What Is Aikido?

aikido_100x280_72dpiAikido is a way to train, study, and understand a method of mental and physical coordination. Aikido believes that mind is the master. Every follower of Aikido must study the laws of the mind, train his mind, letting the body follow and find a way to coordinate with the mind. In order to coordinate the mind and body, Seika-No-Itten, or the One Point, must be understood. To keep the mind to one spot, it must be concentrated somewhere. That place is the Seika-No-itten, or a point about two inches below the navel, the center of the lower abdomen.

Every object has its center of gravity near the bottom. Even a human being must be considered to be an object. When it is allowed to stand naturally, its center of gravity should be at the one point. If the mind is relaxed and concentrated there and the rest of body drained of its strength, then comes true realization. Once you have learned to attain this state of mind it allows your center of gravity to rest where it should. Constant practice soon enables you without conscious effort to get the habit of relaxing at all times, able to use the potential of your mind and body at a moment’s notice.

There can be no true understanding of Aikido without Ki. The name Aikido itself means the way of coordination with Ki, and in daily Aikido practice such expressions as “pour forth Ki”, “Leading your opponent’s Ki”, “Do not draw your Ki inward”, or ” Do not stop the flow of Ki” are used constantly, In oriental thought, the idea of Ki is not difficult to understand, but in the English language the equivalent word is hard to discover.

All things come from Ki. Ki itself has neither beginning nor end, increase nor decrease. We can see many things around us, all made from Ki, and when they lose their shape, their elements return to Ki. Aikido is the way of atonement (at-one-ment) with Cosmic power, or Ki. That is the deep meaning of Ki.

In Aikido training, we make every effort to fill our body with Ki and use it powerfully. You believe that your body is filled with Ki of the universe, so you keep the one point, make it the center of your body, and pour forth Ki from your whole body. Like an unbendable arm, you think your power is gushing out through your arm, it becomes very strong and difficult to bend. Such use of the mind is called pouring forth Ki. If you believe that your Ki is gushing forth, your Ki is really gushing out. For example, as you are walking along somebody pushes you by the shoulder. If you pull your Ki inward or your mind trails behind your body, your attacker will be able to push you back or throw you down. If you pour forth your Ki and your mind is ahead of your body, he will not be able to push you back instead he himself will be pushed back by the impact.

As long as your Ki is being poured forth, your opponent’s Ki does not come upon you. Stop pouring forth your Ki, or pull yours inward, and your opponent’s power will engage you instantly. If you are to gain true understanding, you must practice diligently the art of pouring forth a constant stream of Ki. Master this and you will be able to see whether or not your opponent pours forth Ki merely by looking at his form and posture.

In Aikido, every art was designed in obedience to the law of nature so that there is no strain in its execution. Obey the laws of nature in all your movements. Let your opponent go where he wants to go; let him return when he wants to return and bend in the direction he wants to bend as you lead him, and then let him fall where he wants to fall. There is no need to strain yourself unduly, you can try to turn back a stream, but you will have to use brute force to do it. How much easier it is to honor the power of the stream and lead it wherever you wish.

Again, if a rock weighing 100 pounds is falling toward your head, it would be a tremendous feat to stop it with your bare hands. But if instead of trying to catch it you simply step aside, the rock drops to the ground without doing you any harm. If the rock weighed 1000 pounds, it would be just as easy to step aside. There is a limit to what you can accomplish by physical force, but what you can accomplish by non-violence is limitless.

In Aikido there is no practice in the use of brute force. But there is training in how to use an opponent’s own strength in leading him. This is why women, children and older men may practice the Aikido arts easily and develop amazing strength.