In Aikido we investigate the traditional path of “Budo”, Japanese Martial arts.
Aikido, a martial art based on rich Japanese traditions, was developed by O Sensei (“great teacher”) Morihei Ueshiba over a period of more than 60 years.
Morihei Ueshiba lived from 14th December 1883 to 26th April 1969. He was the most famous student of Sokaku Takeda, head of the Daito Ryu Jyujitsu—the most-practiced Jyujitsu style in Japan, with a 900-year tradition.
In the period before the 2nd World War, the influence of Daito Ryu was evident in the martial art that O-Sensei practiced, but it gradually evolved into what is now modern Aikido. In the years just before and after the war, O-Sensei underwent a spiritual evolution which led to a pacifist philosophy, which he incorporated into his Aikido.
O-sensei’s Aikido was dynamic, constantly evolving as he aged, even up to a few months before his death.
Modern Aikido practitioners are faced with a dual challenge: Firstly, O-Sensei’s last lessons call for practitioners to achieve a balance between the pacifist and martial natures of Aikido.
Secondly, we are faced with a question of which Aikido is “right”?
Pre-war, post-war, ki-Aikido, or other Aikido styles that have been introduced by major students of O-Sensei.
Spiritual > < martial
In Aikido we investigate the traditional path of “Budo”, Japanese Martial arts. From this perspective, all Aikido techniques are essentially dangerous.
In the original characters of BU (-DO), however, lies the meaning of “stop the spear”. In other words, “how can we avoid a fight”. Tomita-sensei speaks in this context of a “life-giving sword” as opposed to a “life-taking sword”. These spiritual, pacifist aspects are embraced in the BUDO tradition that Aikido is.
It is the practitioner’s task to understand this.
Aikido Forms and -techniques
Every learning process starts with practicing basic forms; each school of Japanese martial art has its own underlying tradition that emphasises certain ideas, strategies, and physical and mental preparations. These are usually encoded in kata, or fixed exercises.
Emphasising these forms too strongly, however, is dangerous: at best, it leads to a dead martial art that has a museum-like quality; at worst, there is the danger of losing the substance of the art, leaving only the outer shell.
Thus, once the basice forms are learned, the rules must then be broken, allowing the art to come alive (katashi), and making an infinite number of new forms possible.
O-sensei named this Takemusu Aikido: new techniques born from the necessity of the moment.
Those who have practiced for years discover the wonderful logic, beauty and strength that is Aikido. The genius of O-Sensei permeates all the techniques.
Thus, in every lesson, we practice “The way of O-Sensei”.