Are you really practicing Morihei Ueshiba’s Aikido?
Or something else?
The Founder of Aikido penned (or brushed) six “Rules of Training.” These were often displayed on the wall of a dojo. These precepts have appeared variously in such publications as, “AIKIDO” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and; “AIKIDO, The Arts of Self-Defense” by Koichi Tohei Edited by Morihei Ueshiba, and also some exclusively Japanese Aikido publications.
Let’s look at Morihei Ueshiba’s six rules of practice.
At a cursory glance, they may appear simple.
Don’t be deceived by their brevity, however.
Because of their succinctness and apparent simplicity, it may be possible that these vital admonitions have been largely overlooked or have not been considered with the seriousness they deserve.
Whilst there are several renditions, they are all the same in essence. The following issues are addressed:
Point 1: Cautions on the real and present risk of injury and death during training and highlights the instructor’s primary role as a keeper of safety. It disparages competition.
Point 2: Emphasizes multiple attack training as a key component of Aikido practice.
Point 3: Exhorts a positive frame of mind.
Point 4: Adjures the vital importance of self-reliance, self-motivation and proper exploration of the art, whilst accentuating the relative significance of an instructor.
Point 5: Spotlights the importance of warming up and modulating intensity appropriately.
Point 6: Highlights the body-mind connection, the secret nature of true aiki, the unique method of direct transmission and sincerity of purpose being a requirement. It also cautions on the value of discretion and prohibits revealing Aikido’s secrets to bad characters.
So, are you practicing Aikido or something else?
Let’s look at it.
Regarding Point 1 – In today’s world, from the much discussion on the subject, it would appear that “aikido” is deemed a safe and easy social pastime by many; instead of Budo, a serious discipline and a viable means to stop violence. How did this state of affairs come about?
Does your school rely only on taking money for “insurance.” Or is the primary focus on the active and responsible prevention of “accidents?”
Has a culture of sneaky or even open competitiveness infected your school? Or does the spirit of camaraderie and supportiveness, albeit that of providing a good and authentically challenging attack prevail?
Regarding Point 2 – As for multiple attack training, many “aikido” schools claim to have never heard of it, and those that have, seldom if ever practice it. Why is this?
Regarding Point 3 – During practice, frivolity is not positive in the face of the real and present risk potential. Rather ongoing vigilance. Nor are scowls and anger as sometimes found. On the other hand, a pleasant and joyful atmosphere denotes humour, humility, the presence of mutual respect and a conscious addressing of limitations. Which variables prevail in your dojo?
Regarding Point 4 – Training once a week denotes no self-motivation, rather a casual surface interest. No athlete can progress by practicing when he feels like it or there is nothing on TV. That’s not good enough and it is not Aikido. Nor are excuses. Excuses reveal insincerity and do not enable survival.
Is personalty worship prevalent or is your teacher more interested in imparting a high standard of excellence? Does he place your safety first? Does he exemplify?
Regarding Point 5 – Injuries and sprains are a sign of insufficient jyumbi taiso. The admonishment that there must be no overexertion in some renditions of O’Sensei’s Six Rules, speaks of deep insight into paramount coaching techniques: Primarily that of training inside one’s limit, which results in sustainable progression.
The reference that elderly people can practice with pleasure speaks to adjusting training to make Aikido available. In other words Aikido is for everyone and can render benefit concurrent to your present ability.
Are all age groups and genders welcome at your school? What about people with disabilities? How welcoming are you? Do you and the senior students accommodate new applicants well? Do your senior students assist the juniors in their development? Or do they shun them to gratify selfish gains? Is the focus on improving and helping each other learn and grow? Or merely on self-absorbed proving of something?
Regarding Point 6 – For a living example of addressing the body-mind connection with full sincerity one would need to study the life and interests of the Founder himself and glean what one can to incorporate into one’s own life. But do you have what it takes?
By not properly screening candidates for admission to a dojo and vetting for unstable characters, we not only open ourselves to the risks cautioned in rule one in the dojo, but it also places people in society at risk.
I have touched briefly on the subject and recommend that you give serious consideration to Morihei Ueshiba’s “Rules During Training” and extract from them what gives you most meaning based on your training experience.
Please do not overlook this key Aikido document. It has immense value and has provided a beacon for many serious practitioners over the last 40 years or so, maintaining their Aikido solidly on track.
On this basis the brevity of the document is not an indicator that it was casually written as a hasty throw off. On the contrary, everything about it reveals that it constitutes the considered distillation of many years of hard experience worthy of note. It espouses core values with caring and high integrity, denoting a meaningful depth of understanding and high caliber skill which should be recognizable by every reasonable budoka.
Each and every Aikido school should be apprised of this document.
As with the basic Aikido kihon, it is loaded with immense potential which can be multiply-unlocked and adapted from these apparently simple yet seminal injunctions of how to best practice Aikido.
So, if you find that you’re not complying with the Founder’s precepts I suggest you take the sign down that says “Aikido” and replace it with My-Kido, Your-Kido, Opinion-Kido, Something-Else-Kido, Whatever-You-Want-Kido or I-Kid-You. But not Ai-ki-do.
On the other hand, if you would like to augment and get closer to the practice of O’Sensei’s AIKIDO, for your perusal here are some variables of this document that I could readily find. They present no ambiguity.
I believe there exist also Japanese versions which you could find and translate for yourself.
“Rules During Training” by Morihei Ueshiba
1) One blow in Aikido can kill. When practicing always obey your instructor and do not use training time for needless testing of strength.
2) Aikido is an art where one person learns to face many opponents simultaneously. It therefore requires that you polish and perfect each movement to become invulnerable from any direction.
3) Practice with a feeling of joy and exhilaration.
4) The teachings of your instructor constitute only a small fraction of what you will learn. Your mastery of each movement will depend almost entirely on individual earnest practice.
5) Daily practice begins with light movements gradually increasing in intensity; but there must be no overexertion. Even elderly people can practice with pleasure.
6) The purpose of Aikido is to train both body and mind sincerely. Aikido must not be taught to immoral people or used for evil purposes.
1) Aikido decides life and death in a single strike, so students must carefully follow the instructor’s teaching and not compete to see who is the strongest.
2) Aikido is the way that teaches how one can deal with several enemies. Students must train themselves to be alert not just to the front, but to all sides and the back.
3) Training should always be conducted in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.
4) The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versatile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training.
5) In daily practice first begin by moving your body and then progress to more intensive practice. Never force anything unnaturally or unreasonably. If this rule is followed, then even elderly people will not hurt themselves and they can train in a pleasant and joyful atmosphere.
6) The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and to produce sincere, earnest people. Since all the techniques are to be transmitted person-to-person, do not randomly reveal them to others, for this might lead to their being used by hoodlums.
1) One blow in Aikido is capable of killing an opponent. In practice, obey your instructor, and do not make practice a time for needless testing of strength.
2) Aikido is an art in which one man learns to face many opponents simultaneously and requires therefore that you polish and perfect your execution of each movement so that you can take on not only the one directly before you but also those in every direction around you.
3) Practice at all times with a feeling of pleasurable exhilaration.
4) The teachings of your instructor constitute only a small fraction of what you will learn. Your mastery of each movement will depend almost completely on your earnest practice.
5) The daily practice begins with light movements of the body, gradually increasing in intensity and strength, but there must be no overexertion. That is why even elderly an elderly man can continue to practice without bodily harm but with pleasure and profit and will attain the purpose of his training.
6) The purpose of Aikido is to train both body and mind and to make a man sincere. All Aikido arts are secret in nature and are not to be revealed publicly nor taught to rogues who will use them for evil purposes.
1) One blow/strike is capable of killing. Follow directions of your instructor and don’t needlessly test strength.
2) The ability to face multiple opponents, develops awareness towards all sides.
3) Training atmosphere should be pleasant and joyful.
4) Practice is the primary means to achieve mastery.
5) Training should be natural and reasonable. When this is followed even elderly individuals can develop Aikido’s potentials.
6) The purpose of Aikido is to train mind and body and make an individual sincere.