“Aikido and Karate: A Love Love Relationship,” by Nathan Ray

“In closing, the true spirit of Aikido and
Karate-Do is one of perfect harmony and unity.”

First, I would like to thank Aikido Journal for raising this very interesting question, and allowing me the opportunity to express a part of my research on this matter.

Over the past 30 plus years, I have been asked a multitude of times about my experience of being a Karate and Aikido practitioner. How do you manage doing both at once? It reminds me of a question that my friends used to ask in school, “If you had to fight, would you use Karate or would you fight them normal?” I would chuckle, because for me this question made no sense in that I wasn’t doing Karate; it was actually me. How do you separate you from yourself? Answer… you don’t. It is very much the same with Aikido and Karate. Both arts are perfect complements to each other.

To quantify this idea and to prove it in basis of fact, I will use a few examples. First, in Aikido, it is a fact that in many dojo atemi (the striking art of aikido) overall has been lessened or altogether omitted. Historically, atemi was a vital part of Aikido training.

The lessening of atemi in the training hall was for the purpose of strengthening the other major aspects of the art. All of this is true and documented. Knowing atemi and not using it puts one in a much better place, than not knowing atemi and needing it. I have found that the use of atemi and the knowledge of the striking and kicking of Karate has strengthened my understanding and research of Aikido.

Secondly, proficiency in Karate training has greatly advanced general Aikido training in our dojo as the attacks by the uke are genuine and firm. Our Aikido students are taught sound striking and kicking techniques to be able to better deal with such energy. In essence, the better the quality and technical ability of the uke (attacker) the more efficiency and precision the nage (defender) must express.

Aikido offers the perfect solution in the form of pins, joint locks, and controls. This allows for the control of an attacker while 911 dispatches the police – no rope or duct tape is necessary!

Another necessary skill which Aikido helps to enhance in the Karate practitioner is the proper use of relaxation. Though relaxing is espoused in Karate in general, it is developed much later. Aikido offers the ideal methodology and curriculum to enhance relaxation in Karate and other martial arts as a whole. Perfect examples of this are in the Aikido basics of tai no henko and morotedori kokyuho.

Finally, one of the greatest advantages of studying Aikido as a Karate practitioner is in the study of karate kata bunkai and oyo (the analysis of the karate kata movements). Aikido has greatly assisted me in this process. Seeing the great care and details that Morihiro Saito put into research and training has been an inspiration and guiding light in how to perform an in-depth break down of Karate kata for me. Saito Shihan left a legacy of not only technical detail in the form of books, tapes, and know how as bequeathed to him by the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba; but also a thought pattern of how to approach the study of any art or subject for that matter.

In closing, the true spirit of Aikido and Karate-Do is one of perfect harmony and unity. I have found that the synergy of both arts lead to the unlimited goal of uplifting humanity through martial arts excellence.

Contact Nathan Ray Sensei at Supreme Martial Arts & Fitness


  1. Beautifully written Ray Sensei….wonderful insights…

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