Aikido is a Japanese martial art that is practical for self-defense while offering a peaceful path to conflict resolution. Natural movements and cooperative training enhance mind/body connections, coordination, and balance, and teach how to relax and be grounded under stress.
“Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat an enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.” - O-Sensei
Aikido training is cooperative. In basic practice, one partner makes a specific attack (a grab or a strike) that has the direction and energy that lets the other partner perform a specific technique (a pin or a throw). This way students develop the basic “vocabulary” of aikido using natural movements instead of clashing with each other.
As we gain skill, more advanced practice like jiyuwaza (free-style) and randori (multiple attackers) is possible. The real essence of aikido is to respond in the moment to the energy of an attack with a relaxed movement that both unbalances the attacking partner and allows an appropriate technique to manifest itself.
“In our techniques we enter completely into, blend totally with, and control firmly an attack. Strength resides where one's ki is concentrated and stable.” - O-Sensei
In aikido we learn to read intent and energy (ki) and to accept the reality of an attack - neither arguing with it nor running away from it, we find the safe place from where we can connect with our attacker's ki and guide it with our own.
To develop these skills, each class includes exercises for proper breathing and posture/structure. We learn to do them in a relaxed manner so we can stay calm and focused under pressure.
“There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing.” - O-Sensei
We don’t argue over a space. If there is no attack, no action is needed. If the attacker starts to hunker down or resist, he’s just offering a different energy than expected, so a different response is called for.
“True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature.” - O-Sensei
One of the beauties of aikido is that it allows us to modulate our response to violence. Sometimes we have to protect ourselves and at the same time take responsibility to protect an attacker – an out-of-control kid having a tantrum, a patient having a drug or psychiatric reaction, a drunken belligerent uncle. Aikido has been used successfully in many situations like these.
"Masakatsu Agatsu contains the essence of the spirit of Aikido:
True victory is the victory over the self." - O-Sensei