Master Shoji Nishio once said that AIKIDO is nothing but a
method that can be applied in any martial art. It is undeniable
that practicing AIKIDO almost always means practicing martial
arts. If AIKIDO is a method, are you sure you are limited to
A friend of mine, who has been my training partner for more
than 10 years, told me that his daughter loved riding, and
he regularly took her to the horse riding school. One day,
as he was waiting for her to finish her riding lesson, he
decided to try horseback riding himself. He enthusiastically
recounted that riding, "working" with the horse was actually
AIKIDO. It was the same feeling as performing an exercise in
just the optimal rhythm, position and timing. He had never
ridden a horse before, but he knew this feeling, and he
tried to find it in riding, as he did in training. But what
is this feeling?
I am writing this during my summer holiday at Lake Balaton.
I love this place, I love the water and water sports. I
learned to windsurf as a child, before I became acquainted
with AIKIDO. Very pleasant sport and great challenge as
well. It’s hard to describe the power of a strong wind
blowing into a 6-square-foot sail. This AIKIDO is much more
“cruel” than training. There is no grace here, no slight or
missed hit :-) So many things must be aligned to get on the
board in wavy conditions, stand upright and use the power of
high winds. Balance, gradation, direction, position and
rhythm are all important. If we are skillful we can dominate
the situation, but it may change from moment to moment and
we can easily become "uke" from "tori". If we fail to create
the ideal conditions, we have no chance to work with the
wind. After practicing AIKIDO for many years, I think
surfing is very sophisticated AIKIDO.
I could give countless more examples from different areas of
life, where we can meet a similar feeling and find that this
feeling is related to AIKIDO. I gave the above examples to see,
it’s true that we start practicing AIKIDO through a form of
movement, but it’s important to see, it’s not just martial arts
or self-defense. It's just a way to practice. By learning about
AIKIDO, we can gain skills that can be used well in other areas
of our lives. Practice teaches cooperation, develops a sense of
connecting to another movement almost unnoticed, cooperating
with it, and even taking control of it if necessary.
The second example clearly shows that if we rely on our mere
strength we stand no chance against much stronger "opponents"
such as high winds. It is important to understand that
training is not about fighting.
What true Martial Art
teaches us is to avoid fighting. Not to run
away or to be a coward but pure technical solutions. During
practising we observe where tensions arise in our bodies,
“blockages” in our movements or breaks in our contacts with our
partners. Be ahead of the "attacker" by a quarter or half a
pace, make sure your position prevents him from completing his
attack without taking away his hope. Our practice needn't be
spectacular, large throws and falls are often based on a
pre-planned scenario and intended to dazzle the audience. Inner
feelings are the most important to control your partner and
yourself as well. This control is not violent for the partner,
it rather feels like riding a horse. I might as well have
written that riding together with a horse, but I believe it is
clear for the reader anyway. In AIKIDO, unfortunately, this is
not always that clear.
We all have a choice in what we want to practice and in what
direction we would like to improve.