Recommended reading: “When Is Aikido Not Aikido?” by David Lynch

The article below has been selected from the extensive archives of the Online Aikido Journal. We believe that an informed readership with knowledge of the history, techniques and philosophy of aikido is essential to the growth of the art and its adherence to the principles espoused by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba.

Aikido is not a system of fighting, but a way of not fighting, intended not to protect or enhance the ego but, potentially, to eradicate it. Its value lies in promoting qualities diametrically opposed to those advocated for use “in the street.” Speaking for myself, the day I have to face a life and death situation will be soon enough to prove the effectiveness, or otherwise, of my aikido. I have never had to use the physical techniques outside the dojo in 40 years of training, so I am not going to lose any sleep over that

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  1. bruce baker says:

    I am gonna have to slightly disagree on a couple of points.

    Aikido … CAN BE a system of fighting if the practitioner can decipher it’s shorthand notes. WE, the practitioners, choose not to fight and we choose not to embrace the animal instincts we possess so we might bring about a more peaceful resolution without resorting to the sword that takes life … we prefer to think about and embrace the policies of the sword that gives life.

    Every time I see some 9th or 10 dan master who is giving a seminar … somehow, someway … the angles and directions of the movements within Aikido are adapted and used in their demonstrations. Students, teachers, and even master practitioners must get this through their heads …. it is not the absence of knowledge for fighting we seek, but knowledge so we can choose a less destructive path than our animal instincts would have us take.

    I have accidentally knocked people out, and at times been knocked out since I was five years old. Learning through the school of hard knocks often misses lessons learned along the road because they are not ingrained into mind, memory, into routines that make them easy to recall. My memory is gained through repetition of movements. When I practice the movements within Aikido … I find many old friends, that is … I find the same angles and directions from movements I have stumbled upon over the years. The shorthand is then integrated with memories, and those memories are awakened to become living breathing practices.

    Aikido, as it is practiced, and by itself is not a fighting system. With that I agree, but if you look, if you study, if you get around and watch the masters who try to impart some of their knowledge in the minds of students … you will see many familiar movements you practice in aikido being used in many arts outside of your non-fighting, non-combative aikido.

    Figure out what the shorthand in aikido means ….

  2. Dear David:

    Considering what O Sensei said mentioned in your article:
    “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something. Be grateful even for hardships, setbacks and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training.”..then I will give here my oppinion:

    After 40 years of Aikido training too, I think that Aikido is a very effective Budo in martial arts terms, cause it´s tecnical basics comes from Daito Ryu, that was a strategy used in the battlefield used with swords and with tai jutsu. Basically the idea is that one of the spider when it catches the fly.
    First the fly is glued in the web and then the spider envolves it with more produced in the moment in a thread and it becomes imobilized. Then it is easy to throw it or give a final imobilization.

    The technique movements that are taught in all schools mentioned are not for use in the moment of the attack but training methods in order the aikidoist will learn how to produce that “glue” of the spider, and not the technique itself.
    After years of correct training that basics, “aiki” or “kokyu” is developed and then in the moment of contact, uke becomes imovilized, due to a phisical action but done based on high level perception and correct distribution and projection of the weight. This action is invisible to the common practiconer cause in is done using “ki” lines that runs inside of the body, that are not seen by the eyes, but can be detected easily but higher perception developed by the experienced aikidoist.
    In other words, to aikido techniques be really effective it is indispensable to develop higher perception to use the weaks points of uke, produces leverage and other mechanical machines , and find out in the moment of contacts the weak lines of resistance.

    Once this is very difficult and take many years of correct training, this is the reason that so view persons can be sure that Aikido is yes really effective as a martial art.

    It took me decades to find this out.
    My only complain that I only find it out now that I am 60 years old, cause nobody told me this before when I was younger and so I lost many good years just doing phisical exercices.
    There are indeed, many ways to the top mount Fuji, but one must to start down in the plains and try to go up and not, walking away in the groud or try to walk another mountain thinking it will lead to the top of Mount Fuji.
    Unfortunatelly, the truth is that the real way to train Aikido is hidden, and those that knows it do not teaches it to everybody. So, as O Sensei said, the big secrets, hide by thenselves.

    About ego, I think that ego is something very important. Nobody would survive without having a ego. Ego is one of the best motivations in order one can progress, it is something natural. It is the Ego that creates the centrifugal forces that allows the atoms from food, light, and heat to produce the cells of our body and giving then shape. Ego is something good.
    The problem is when Ego loses control and the individual forgets about the relations that ego must have with the universe and that the individual and the universe must interelated and work together in harmony.
    This is the meaning of the two claps in shinto , the sound of the first clap must be echo in the universe and joining both hands together they will reverberate in divine harmony.

    Once Aikido training develops percepction (that it a better way to discribe this sort of ki)of course that the aikidoist will open his eyes and mind to see how the laws of the universe reall works, and the subjective word of Ana (like it is said in kotodama theory), will the realized in the brain due to Mana, producing the hear vybrations Kana.

    In essence this is what O Sensei wanted us to learn….that we would purify ourselves, our 5 senses and our minds in order we could reverberate with the universe and would be able to say : “I am (part) of the Universe” (we are the same).

    This conscienciouness is the goal of all traditional religions and Ways.

    So, it is a fact…we train a very effective Budo which strategy is to use higher perception and this higher perception allows people to know who they are, and what they have to do.

    In the words of O Sensei…..AIkido is “Yama Biko” …)Like the echo of the mountain) ….reveberations…….

    Finally I recomend everybody to know David Lynch Dojo, it is something really extraordinary. Only a real deep lover of Aikido would expend his savings doing something like that, a paradise to Aikidoists, a big dome, full of wood everwhere, inside of a forest, sorrounded by fountains and water falls in the middle of birds singing bringing peace, and the feeling of beeing one with nature event to the most sceptic materialistic guy that only see the efficacy of aikido based on atemi.

    Wagner Bull

  3. O Sensei said something like “never fighting is ever victorious”. All the same, I think it’s a confusion to believe that aikido won’t win a fight. It might only win, however, if the aikidoka forgets fighting. Terry Dobson pointed out that fights involve a mutual agreement. Battles involve a certain consent on the part of both generals. Sensing the signs that ask consent for a fight and then switching on the aikido has worked for me. Might be something Musashi talked about, too.

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