Everyone beginning aikido practice is motivated by a particular purpose or set of goals. Among the most common are a desire to learn self-defense, develop physical fitness, or seek companionship. Over time these initial goals take on a different meaning as one begins to experience the transforming effect aikido has on one’s life.
Since aikido—and martial arts in general—are disciplines that teach techniques capable of injuring and killing an adversary, they should be practiced with a sense of seriousness and attention to minute detail due to the inherent risks involved. Training in such a focused mental state leads progressively to the cultivation of what might be described as a “martial spirit.”
We use the term “martial” here in the same sense as the word “bu” in Japanese as interpreted by the Founder, from “budo,” usually translated as “martial art.” “Bu” encompasses two key concepts. First, it connotes an Oriental system of fighting skills with classical origins primarily aimed at teaching self-defense. Bu also incorporates the notion of an activity or pursuit intended to lead the practitioner along a path of spiritual advancement. Both of these ideas are contained in aikido as conceived by the Founder Morihei Ueshiba.
Training with a martial focus
The bu or martial element is so vital a part of aikido training that to remove it would be to reduce the art to a mere exercise system or health method. It arises from an awareness of the inherent dangers of training thereby introducing a kind of mental tension during practice that in time produces a state of heightened sensitivity. Here are some of the dojo processes that promote the development of this martial mindset.