“The Rules and Limitations of Aikido,” by Nev Sagiba

From the things you hear, one who did not know otherwise would be forgiven for imagining that there is aikido; and then there are other ways to do things; and each is restricted to its own box and way of doing things and woe betide anyone who dares to break out of the calcified, mould encrusted mold.

What is Aikido?

From all the talk, it appears that nobody really knows except that this guy called Ueshiba Morihei or Morihei Ueshiba, (much ado) came up with it and then had all these followers who can’t copy his amazing feats and now that he’s too dead to vindicate himself, some even accuse him of being fake.

What a species of apes. Watching a Richard Attenborough documentary, you at least have an off switch on the TV. In people politics, religion and martial art cults it seems to go on nauseatingly forever.

Let me say this: there is no such thing as “aikido.”

A few barely modified jujitsu forms don’t constitute Aikido. In any event everyone has different opinions about how they should be done.

The origins of the aikijutsu arts were based on survival strategy and I can tell you now those people did not care for anything more than survival.

Watching all and any fighting art from anywhere, all I see are Aikido techniques. Everybody has them.

Blasphemy some say. Indeed.

When any action becomes refined and efficient, whether through practice or simply too tired to do it the stupid way, it resembles Aikido/jujutsu. Sure, there are some strategic principles involved, but these too are universal. And there’s the mysterious “power” that appears to be explosive and came from China and nowhere else; and lots and lots of talk about theories. Which can’t be proven one way or t’other. And there’s those who believe they will never be attacked with weapons so blindedly fail to practice with weapons, bleating all the way to a great following. Or the push and bull brigade, the dancers and others.

All cults of delusion clinging fixatedly to favourite concepts, blinded by bullshit.

Bottom line? When you have to survive or die, you do what you have to, what you can, and what makes sense at the time.

If you pay attention, the so-called Founder of Modern Aikido who had no intention to “found” anything at all; he used atemi, weapons, objects, ran away, cut, broke .. did whatever worked at the time.. that he favoured, modified and refined certain pre-established jujutsu techniques is not in question.

Flexible mind, hosting flexible potentials and possibilities, his Aikido was more referring to an ATTITUDE of mind and heart than any forms which evolved and changed like the wind, in accordance to the necessity and inspiration of the day.

Ueshiba was an explorer. Ai, Ki and Do more of a universally embracing practical compassion attitude. Survival tempered with minimal harm. Influenced by all sorts of natural wisdom including, Buddhism, Shinto, Swedenborg and a long list of others. But mainly a sincere, clear mind with far seeing commonsense about consequences and cause and effect. His Aikido training was his yoga and meditation to clarify the mind.

There are no forms in Aikido, despite the staunch fixation on them as “the way O’Sensei did them.” Oh yeah, which year? Because they changed almost daily.

You see this disease in religions. Each is “THE ONLY ONE” that’s going to go to heaven and all the other beliefs are wrong and it’s OK to wage war and steal from them, because they have different delusions to our extra special delusion. The folly of this distortion of simple logic seems to evade the superstitiously afraid chimpanzee genetics.

They fail to take into account that perhaps, in the face of lack of evidence, there may be no after-life paradise after all!

Oh, those softened Daito-ryu techniques heavily borrowed. Great stuff. The best. You would have to be a lunatic to try to patent them. But wise to embrace and work them.

Are we going to cling to them like deadwood? Or are we going to explore the possibilities they can unlock? Hug them desperately as one drowning clutches at straw, or use them as springboards or launch pads to dive courageously into the unknown and explore further this dimension of aiki?

There are no rules in Aikido training other than SAFETY and RESPECT FOR ALL CONCERNED.

And perhaps one other: “Take what I have refined as a legacy and research it further.”

Who was it that said this?

Above all, Aikido exists to transcend limitation and concepts about limitation. There are no limitations in harmony. Harmony is unlimited adaptation to unlimited possibilities including the appearance of what seems to be attack. Kannagara no michi.

We live, for the time being, in a softened and protected society. This may not last forever. How you comport yourself in the face of more, shall we say, feudal circumstances, greater challenges the future is to bring, remains to be seen.

Will we, under similar circumstances, have the moral integrity and far reaching vision to intend to BUILD a world, a family of humanity, as the ancients displayed, starting out in really bad and primitive conditions? And to forge on despite all adversities that meet us? Who really knows.

While things are comfortable and safe, it’s so easy to spout nice philosophies, talkosopies and theoretical ideals.

One of the good things about Budo training is that you are free to believe nothing, refuse to follow others over a cliff edge, think for yourself and at least thus far, it appears to have largely remained untainted by any entrenched dogma and mind manipulation.

Your size, shape, weight, height, bone density, mindset, gender, leg length, hip structure, ancestral genetics, previous experience, fitness, fatness, muscle tone, flexibility and a host of other variables will unlock an Aikido unique to only one person at this time and place in the history of the entire universe.

Who is that person? It is YOU!

You will unlock and unfold one style, THE STYLE, most suitable for you (provided you leave off the stultifying struggle of trying to become a follower clone).


Even that will change as training exploration refines you without end.

As for the litmus test, what works and what fails will prove itself in the next real attack you experience.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. It may not be either like anything you expected or anything that happens in a dojo.

If you survive, you will learn a lot. Perhaps then you will have something to offer in the way of teaching gullible students.

Please do not misuse this trust.


  1. Brett Jackson says:

    Hi Nev Sensei, thanks for all the openings (in the good sense) in 2009! All the best to you, your students, and dojo for 2010!

  2. bodhi Anderson, gj says:


    Hear, Hear, so true. Thank you for thoughts.

  3. Thank you.
    And to you.
    Keep well and may training always be good to you.

  4. Paul Buchanan says:

    Very possibly your best. Certainly one of them.
    Sincere Thanks.
    All the best from us for the Holidays and the new year.

  5. Thanks Nev ,that has cleared my thinking I now know what to do in the new year

  6. Faisal Ahmed says:


    I have been a big fan of your blog for a long time although this is the first time I am posting a comment. Thank you for sharing your insight. They are very thought provoking and dare I say “entertaining”. At the end of each post, I am left with a smile on my face and re-calibrated focus. I look forward to reading your future posts. I hope you have a wonderful new year!


    Faisal Ahmed
    Albany, NY

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