What is Aikido?
The word Aikido (eye-kee-doh) can be broken down into three parts:
AI = HarmonyKI = Universal EnergyDO = WaySo, it can be translated as the way to harmony with the universe, or the way to become one with the universe.
The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), also known as O-Sensei (Grand Master), was skilled in many martial arts.It was following World War II that Aikido began to attract many students, including Koichi Tohei, who would become chief instructor of the Tokyo dojo.He was later chosen to introduce Aikido to the west, visiting the island of Maui in 1953.
Following O-Sensei’s death, there was a split in the organization, which led Tohei Sensei to found Ki Society International (Ki No Kenkyukai) in 1971 and Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido (Aikido with mind and body coordination, also known as Ki-Aikido) in 1974.
“The body has limits, the mind does not. It is fine to train your body, but you should not stop there. You must train your mind. The body ages but the mind does not.”
– Tohei Sensei
The Four Principles
Tohei Sensei developed a system of teaching Ki to Western students based on Four Principles:
1) Keep One Point
2) Relax Completely
3) Keep Weight Underside
4) Extend Ki
“Softness means the opposite of rigidity, and is synonymous with suppleness, adaptability, endurance. Anyone who has seen a Tai ch’i or Aikido master doing ‘not doing’ will know how powerful this softness is.”
– Stephen Mitchell
(Foreword to his translation of Tao te Ching)
The first and fourth are principles of the mind. The second and third are principles of the body. These terms become a common language among students.
Aikido techniques or arts do not rely on strength, but rather blend or join with an attacker’s energy. This is achieved through KI development.
Without KI development, martial art techniques are simply physical movements, often performed with brute strength rather than grace and fluidity. Mind and body coordination, through KI development, creates strength through relaxation. This is why people of varying ages and physical builds are able to be successful at Aikido. Students will also be taught how to fall and roll safely.
There are approximately 150 Aikido arts, plus 30 taigi (forms) involving single and multiple persons and weapons. Aikido students also train with Bokken (wooden sword) and Jo (staff).
Training Requirements: An open mind, patience, plenty of questions and a good sense of humor.