It was an interesting revelation to me, when I got a peep at one of the core philosophies of Aikido.
I really didn’t pay much attention early on in my studies to what Aikido meant or stood for, all I knew after watching a demonstration was ‘I wanna be able to do that’.
After a little digging you get to learn that the word Aikido can stand for ‘The way of the spirit of harmony’ or ‘the way of unifying life energy…’ and that in Japanese the Ai means harmony, Ki translates to spirit or energy and Do is the path, system or way. What did all this mean to me? Not much, I had more important things to do, like powering through Ikkyo.
On a purely physical level, Aikido is a martial art involving the displacement of your opponent’s centre through body positioning, throws and joint locks. Aikido is a hybrid of a variety of martial arts, a core contributor being Daito-ryu, one of the many styles of Jujitsu.
People come to Aikido for many reasons, self-defense, body movement, keep fit, adding another martial art to their repertoire, or just to meet people. After some years, practitioners usually turn a corner (one of many) in their personal understanding of Aikido and what they were looking for; which they may like or may not.
Is Aikido good for self-defense? Perhaps it’s a noble spiritual path? maybe Aikido is good for physical health and peace of mind. It can be all of these things and more, but then again, so can any disciple, pastime or hobby, they all have the ability to contribute to your growth or keep you static or just put you in reverse gear.
Aikido was originally developed by one man, Morihei Usehiba, fondly referred to as O’Sensei. O’Sensei’s Aikido evolved in alignment with his personal and spiritual growth. The many different interpretations of his teachings can be attributed to the many students who trained under him, that eventually opened their own dojos. Each of them teaching their own preferred personalised take on what they were taught.
O’Sensei emphasised the moral and spiritual aspects of his art, placing great weight on the development of harmony and peace.
Back to where I came in. I highly recommend that you read ‘The Spirit of Aikido’ by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, a short but very illuminating read. Here Kisshomaru gives a description of aikido that really resonated and touched me. In short; Aikido is the Way (method) to Harmonise with Ki, both your own Ki (internal) and the external ki (the universe).
Great! So what’s ki?