Oct
19

“Towards A Reform of Aikido Technique (1): Background,” by Stanley Pranin

morihei-ueshiba-tamura-sword

“What was done instead was to de-emphasize the martial pedigree of aikido’s techniques, and eschew practice conditions that led to the cultivation of a strong martial spirit.”

Kisshomaru Ueshiba demonstrating at Aikikai Hombu Dojo c. 1962

Revival of aikido after World War II

The typical aikido practitioner — this also includes many instructors — has only the vaguest of notions of how the art took roots in Japan and abroad following World War II. This is not due to a lack of availability of information on the subject. It is possible to study about the events of this period, but the necessary information is scattered among multiple sources, which require a reading ability in Japanese, English, and other European languages.

Certainly, the Internet has facilitated this task, but it is still difficult to gain a basic perspective of how aikido reemerged, first in Japan, and then abroad, after the cataclysmic events of the Great War. There is little incentive for scholars to do the necessary research because only a relatively small number of people are interested in such historical matters pertaining to aikido.

Who were the Prime Movers?
[Read more...]

Sep
19

“How to find anything you want on Aikido Journal in seconds!” by Stanley Pranin

“We’ve just saved a ton of time to find exactly what we’re looking for!”

Readers of Aikido Journal already know that the suite of websites we offer contain an incredible amount of information on aikido and related subjects. It’s almost too much in the sense that no one could ever consume all of it. There are literally thousands of articles, interviews, photos, videos, audio recordings, screencasts, and an assortment of miscellaneous documents such as charts and drawings.

Believe it or not, I have faced this exact dilemma constantly when attempting to locate some specific bit of information for a particular task. The problem is that you need to search more than one Aikido Journal website — admittedly cumbersome — if you want to be sure you haven’t missed something of importance. Think how much time you could save if you could search all of our websites in one go! Let me show you how to do just that.

Let’s take the following example. Say you are writing a school paper or article about aikido and you think it would be interesting to focus on Admiral Isamu Takeshita, the famous naval officer who was a student and patron of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba. You know Aikido Journal has published a lot of information on this fascinating historical character and you want to do some quick fact-checking.

You would do a google search and enter the following: “Isamu Takeshita site:aikidojournal.com” (without quotes)

Dead simple and straightforward… But by doing this you would have searched all of our sites at once, almost instantly! This includes blog.aikidojournal.com, members.aikidojournal.com, store.aikidojournal.com, schools.aikidojournal.com, and www.aikidojournal.com

As I did this search just now, I came up with 112 hits that span all of our sites with results prioritized according to google’s relevancy algorithms. We’ve just saved a ton of time to find exactly what we’re looking for!

I have tested this with both google and bing search engines and the syntax for constructing a search works exactly the same. I assume that this would be the case for the other major search engines. You can do a lot more fancy and complicated things if you want to learn more about searching. If interested, start here: http://www.google.ca/advanced_search

In some cases, your search at Aikido Journal will yield a link to content that is reserved for subscribers. This is especially the case for the Aikido Journal Members Site (members.aikidojournal.com), the largest of our websites. Here you have a couple of options. You can sign up for a free subscription on the spot and gain access to about 1/3 of the site content for free. Even when the content is reserved for subscribers, you’ll be able to read the first few paragraphs or an excerpt to determine if the article has the information you need.

The best solution would be to invest in a subscription to the Aikido Journal Members Site which gives you full access to a vast world of aikido documents unequalled anywhere else. This is the way to become fully informed about all areas of the art and push your aikido to new heights!

Sep
18

“The Elusive Chinese Influence on Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

“Proponents of the theory of Aikido’s Chinese origin must provide proof.”

I received an email this morning asking my opinion of the remarks of a gentleman who states that he trained with Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in the late 1960s. He makes the claim that Morihei’s aikido was directly influenced by “bagua zhang,” a Chinese internal art. Here is a quote from his article:

“The entering, turning and leading of one’s opponent, as well as the hundreds of subtle energy projections of aikido are fundamental bagua techniques that existed long before Ueshiba’s birth. Because of this, I believe that Ueshiba learned bagua while he was in Manchuria, China.”

This author’s thesis is based on his personal observation of Morihei’s art at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo during the late 1960s, the author’s analysis of “old films” of Morihei and the perceived similiarities in Ueshiba’s technique to various Chinese martial arts, and the fact that O-Sensei spent time in Manchuria during his lifetime.

I have heard this and similar theories about an “obvious” and unacknowledged Chinese connection that influenced the development of aikido repeatedly for the last 30 years or so. You will notice that that above-mentioned author provides no specifics to support his claim. In my experience, this is always the case when such a theory is advanced. Let’s take a closer look at this subject using our knowledge of Morihei’s life to consider the feasibility of such a theory.

Morihei Ueshiba did indeed spent time in Manchuria on three occasions during his life: as an infantryman during the Russo-Japanese in the 1904-1905 period; as a bodyguard to Onisaburo Deguchi on an ill-fated expedition through Manchuria and possibly Mongolia over a half-year period in 1924; as a visiting martial arts instructor during short stays in Japanese-controlled Manchukuo in 1939, 1940, and 1942.
[Read more...]

Sep
09

“My List of Problem Areas in Today’s Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

“It is very common to find students and teachers alike resort to
the forcible application of strength in order to make a technique work.”

In the last several years, I have becomed focused on a number of areas that I have identified as commonly lacking in training and deserving of the attention of aikido instructors. I regard these problem areas as widespread across styles and detrimental to the development of the art. Among my observations — voiced here and elsewhere — are the following:

  • In training, it is very common to find students and teachers alike resort to the forcible application of strength in order to make a technique work. This increases the risk of dojo injuries.
  • Most dojo training is reactive in nature. By that I mean, the common dojo training paradigm involves uke initiating the attack and nage responding. This practice is suitable for the beginning student as a way to learn the mechanics of a technique, but breeds bad habits in more advanced practitioners who attempt to execute flowing techniques. Nage’s response time is too limited due to lack of initiative and sloppy execution of technique can result.
  • Training unfolds with little attention given to breaking uke’s balance. As a result, as the technique is executed, uke may have opportunities to hinder, stop, or counter nage’s technique. One solution to this problem is to stress the importance of nage operating from uke’s blind spot — diagonally to the rear — in order to safely execute techniques.
  • Many practitioners are not in sufficiently good physical condition to execute some of aikido’s more advanced techniques that require above-average body flexibility and agility.
  • Few students understand the concept and methods of locking uke’s body structure to break his balance, and apply techniques and pins. This allows aikido’s devastating techniques to be practiced safely as undue force become unnecessary. For example, assume you’re applying a nikyo. Instead of applying force to the wrist joint, causing pain and risking injury, you immobilize the entire arm to shoulder structure which in turn “locks” the body. From there, a simple hip lowering will cause uke to fall, but without injury.
  • There is a lack of awareness of the specifics of Founder Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido technique. A careful study of Morihei’s art as seen in his films and photos will impart a deeper understanding of his techniques and intentions for aikido, and raise the bar to a much higher level for aikidoka today.

I would invite you to comment on the points I have raised, and offer your observations about training problems as you perceive them, and ways of improving the technical level of contemporary aikido.

——————————————

Click here for detailed information on Stanley Pranin's Zone Theory of Aikido Course

Jul
17

Las Vegas Seminar Update: Second weekend dates added due to larger-than-expected demand

“Second weekend added to handle overflow of applicants…”

Stanley Pranin’s weekend seminar announced last week to be held in Las Vegas from October 5-7 is nearly full. We have decided to add a second weekend — November 2-4 — to handle the larger-than-expected number of applications. When signing up, you will receive a welcome email. Please respond with your choice of dates to participate, indicating either the October 5-7 or November 2-4 weekend. At the time of this writing, there are only 3 spots left for the October weekend.

This is Stanley Pranin! I would like to cordially invite you to join me October 5-7 or November 2-4 — your choice — in Las Vegas, Nevada. I will be conducting a weekend seminar–the first of its kind–whose theme will be “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido.” During the weekend, we will spend quality time together in a private dojo setting limited to 15 attendees. I would like to explore with you what I consider to be the salient points of Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido that have been largely lost in today’s practice. If you wish to have a preview of what the seminar content will cover, I refer you to my article “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido” where I discuss my views and offer supporting documentation.

The Las Vegas seminar will be a special event with an intimate format. I hope to spend many hours training and conversing with the participants and am sure that this experience will be life-changing for all of us. We are in a position to offer very affordable accommodations for most of the seminar participants to keep costs to a minimum. Since the dojo is limited in size, I would encourage you to reserve a place early if you are certain you would like to attend. When this seminar fills up, we will make an announcement to this effect on the website. The link to make your reservation is below.

Dates: October 5-7, 2012 / November 2-4, 2012 (indicate your choice when registering)
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Enrollment: $135.00

Theme: “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido”
Instructor: Stanley Pranin

Participation limited to 15 persons on a first-come, first-served basis

Event Schedule (subject to change)

Friday:

  • Check-in – 6:00 pm
  • 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Informal group chat

Saturday:

  • Morning Session: 9:30 am – 11:30 am
  • (Lunch break)
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Q & A period: 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Pot-luck party: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Sunday:

  • 9:30 am – 10:30am
  • 10:45 am – 11:45 am
  • Informal group chat
  • Pick-up gift pack / Departure

Stanley Pranin Bio

Stanley Pranin began aikido in 1962 in a Yoshinkan Aikido dojo. After a few months, he joined an Aikikai group learning from instructors trained by Koichi Tohei, from whom he received his shodan and nidan rankings. Pranin relocated to Japan in 1977 where he lived for 20 years. He studied in Iwama under Morihiro Saito for several years, and accompanied Saito Sensei during the 1980s as his interpreter to the USA, Canada, and numerous European countries.

In 1974, Pranin began a newsletter called “Aiki News,” which later was renamed as “Aikido Journal.” The successor of this publication continues today on the Internet as the “Aikido Journal” suite of websites. Pranin has published hundreds of articles, interviews, books, and videos during his career as an aikido journalist/historian. He is the organizer of the trail-blazing Aiki Expo events held in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Pranin brings with him 50 years of aikido training and teaching experience, and a vast knowledge of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art.

Suggested reading: “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

Those making reservations will be sent detailed information concerning the location of the event, optional accommodations for attendees, and notification of the deadline for payment of the balance of the seminar tuition.

Click here to make a non-refundable $25 deposit to reserve a place at the seminar (Event limited to 15 attendees)

Jul
11

October 5-7: Weekend Seminar with Stanley Pranin in Las Vegas!

“Practice Aikido in Fabulous Las Vegas with the Founder of Aikido Journal”

This is Stanley Pranin! I would like to cordially invite you to join me October 5-7, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. I will be conducting a weekend seminar–the first of its kind–whose theme will be “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido.” During the weekend, we will spend quality time together in a private dojo setting limited to 15 attendees. I would like to explore with you what I consider to be the salient points of Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido that have been largely lost in today’s practice. If you wish to have a preview of what the seminar content will cover, I refer you to my article “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido” where I discuss my views and offer supporting documentation.

The Las Vegas seminar will be a special event with an intimate format. I hope to spend many hours training and chatting with the participants and am sure that this experience will be life-changing for all of us. We are in a position to offer very affordable accommodations for most of the seminar participants to keep costs to a minimum. Since the dojo is limited in size, I would encourage you to reserve a place early if you are certain you would like to attend. If this seminar fills up, we will make an announcement to this effect on the website. The link to make your reservation is below.

Dates: October 5-7, 2012
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
Enrollment: $135.00

Theme: “Exploring Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei’s Aikido”
Instructor: Stanley Pranin

Participation limited to 15 persons on a first-come, first-served basis

Event Schedule (subject to change)

Friday:

  • Check-in – 6:00 pm
  • 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Informal group chat

Saturday:

  • Morning Session: 9:30 am – 11:30 am
  • (Lunch break)
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Q & A period: 4:00 pm – 4:45 pm
  • Pot-luck party: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Sunday:

  • 9:30 am – 10:30am
  • 10:45 am – 11:45 am
  • Informal group chat
  • Pick-up gift pack / Departure

Stanley Pranin Bio

Stanley Pranin began aikido in 1962 in a Yoshinkan Aikido dojo. After a few months, he joined an Aikikai group learning from instructors trained by Koichi Tohei, from whom he received his shodan and nidan rankings. Pranin relocated to Japan in 1977 where he lived for 20 years. He studied in Iwama under Morihiro Saito for several years, and accompanied Saito Sensei during the 1980s as his interpreter to the USA, Canada, and numerous European countries.

In 1974, Pranin began a newsletter called “Aiki News,” which later was renamed as “Aikido Journal.” The successor of this publication continues today on the Internet as the “Aikido Journal” suite of websites. Pranin has published hundreds of articles, interviews, books, and videos during his career as an aikido journalist/historian. He is the organizer of the trail-blazing Aiki Expo events held in Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Pranin brings with him 50 years of aikido training and teaching experience, and a vast knowledge of Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art.

Suggested reading: “Exploring the Founder’s Aikido,” by Stanley Pranin

Those making reservations will be sent detailed information concerning the location of the event, optional accommodations for attendees, and notification of the deadline for payment of the balance of the seminar tuition.

Click here to make a non-refundable $25 deposit to reserve a place at the seminar (Event limited to 15 attendees)

Jul
09

“Trolls not allowed here!,” by Stanley Pranin

Once upon a time many years ago, Aikido Journal had a bulletin board or forum that attracted a great deal of participation and discussion. Together with the forum of aikiweb.com, which still exists, I believe we were at the forefront of happenings in the aikido world.

As the forum grew, it became more and more demanding to manage, and I had too little time to moderate it properly. I then made a poor judgement in allowing discussions to take place in other languages to enlarge the scope of our efforts. Little by little, I let people carry on their own discussions in different languages without hardly any policing! BIG, DUMB MISTAKE!

Flame-wars began erupting with some people criticizing participants  and making degrading personal attacks. One jolly fellow began to post pornographic images inside the forum every few seconds to thumb his nose at both his opponent and the operator of the website–that would be me!– in one fell swoop! I was in sheer panic!
[Read more...]

Jun
30

“Whose Aikido Are You Practicing?” by Stanley Pranin

Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Iwama Taisai c. 1992

Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba at Iwama Taisai c. 1992

Kisshomaru Ueshiba: “Architect of Today’s Aikido”

Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba (1921-1999)

Today’s world of aikido bears the stamp of Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba more than any other person. There is no other figure who is more influential, not even the Founder Morihei Ueshiba himself. I realize that, for many of the aikido faithful, this will be a shocking statement. Allow me to elaborate.

First of all, aikido is a post-World War II phenomenon. Morihei Ueshiba and his fledgling martial art were known primarily in martial arts circles, not by the general public, prior to the war. What has become aikido today has been shaped primarily by the Ueshiba family through the auspices of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo system after 1955.

The arbiter of this process of dissemination and the content of Aikikai aikido is none other than Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Founder’s son. In 1942, Kisshomaru assumed operational control of what would become the Aikikai at the tender age of 21. Morihei had retired to Iwama, World War II raged, and Tokyo would soon be bombed. Kisshomaru was thrust into a leadership position for which he was ill-equipped while a university student. He would continue uninterrupted as head of the Aikikai, the world’s largest aikido organization, until his passing in 1999.

The Aikikai was barely functioning as an entity after the war until around 1955. During that period, Kisshomaru was simply attempting to hold the remnants of the aikido structure together until better times, without much thought to the future direction of the art. In fact, he was obliged to hold down a full-time job in a securities company to support himself and the rundown Aikikai dojo.

Later on, as aikido began to gather some attention among the general public, it was Kisshomaru, in consultation with a group of elders and peers, who gradually began shaping the policies that would lead to a steady, if not spectacular, growth of aikido.
[Read more...]

Jun
15

“Autobiographical article (2): Koichi Tohei–Training in Japan,” by Stanley Pranin

“I felt poorly prepared for the fast pace of training and the variety of styles
where the same techniques were executed in fundamentally different ways.”

This article is the second in a series of four autobiographical articles by Aiki News Editor-in-chief Stanley Pranin and was first published in 1990 in Wushu, a Japanese-language magazine dealing with Chinese martial arts.

In my last article I covered the circumstances under which I began my practice of aikido in 1962 and some of my strongest memories from those first few years. I would like to pick up the thread of my narration where I left off last time. The year is 1965 and I am a student at the University of California at Los Angeles. In the intervening two years I had been promoted to ikkyu by Takahashi Sensei. Although the demands on my time for studies were heavy I managed to continue training on Fridays and weekends. Also, my interest in aikido had grown to the point that I began to take Japanese language classes as an elective at the university.

At that point in time I did most of my training at the Los Angeles Aikikai. It was one of the first dojos established in the mainland U.S. and continues to operate today. Besides the chief instructor Isao Takahashi Sensei, most of the senior students were nisei or sansei and several of them had moved to California from Hawaii where they had earlier begun their aikido training. As I recall, more than half of the dojo members were of Japanese descent. Some of those early aikidoka did much to spread aikido in California during the early years and such names as Clem Yoshida, Rod Kobayashi, Dan Mizukami, Francis Takahashi, and Daniel (Kensho) Furuya stand out most in my mind.

That summer at the dojo was a very exciting time for everyone as we were anticipating a visit from the Head of the Instructors’ Staff (Shihan Bucho) of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, the famous Koichi Tohei Sensei. Tohei Sensei was at that time perhaps the most well-known aikido teacher in the west due to his frequent travels to America and the publication of his early books in English. He had introduced aikido to Hawaii in 1953 and remained there teaching for about two years. At that point in time, the image of aikido in the minds of most foreigners was primarily shaped by his concept of the art which emphasized kiand, in this sense, Tohei was more influential outside of Japan than even the Founder Morihei Ueshiba. Tohei was known for his unrivaled technique, and easy-to-understand, entertaining teaching approach. For those of us who had never met him, we were anticipating a man almost bigger than life.

Koichi Tohei in New York, c. 1967

When Tohei Sensei actually walked into the dojo that warm summer day in 1965 I indeed felt a powerful presence. Since his English, though quite serviceable, was difficult to understand, one had to pay close attention to his words. When he stepped on to the tatami to teach, he would often smile and relate amusing anecdotes to convey key points regarding techniques. Tohei Sensei’s movements were very graceful and he would often jump or hop while executing them. Although he was heavily muscled, even a bit stout, I found his motions more dance-like than martial. At the same time, there was certainly no doubt that he had plenty of power in reserve if he ever cared to call upon it.

Being raised in health-conscious California I was somewhat disappointed to find that he smoke and drank, although in retrospect having lived in this country (Japan) for many years, I now understand that there is nothing surprising about any man having such habits from the Japanese cultural standpoint. I also had occasion to seen him in social contexts and he was very charming and entertaining and quite adept at social dancing.

Tohei Sensei’s approach to teaching was simplicity itself. He started presenting a series of preparatory exercises done alone or with a partner designed to teach one to move in a relaxed, circular fashion. He had also developed a series of “ki testing” drills where one would check to ensure that his partner was “extending ki” properly. These exercises were a lot of fun and were something you could show to impress and mystify your friends. I remember in particular the “unbendable arm” and “unliftable posture.” Tohei Sensei taught a core of some 50 aikido techniques and each was executed in a highly individualistic way and clearly bore his stamp. He would demonstrate techniques in a casual, playful manner, as if to suggest that if one mastered the movements of aikido executing them was mere child’s play. We were taught that it was wrong to attempt to develop or resort to physical strength as this would impede our ability to learn to apply ki when executing techniques. What we were doing was in one very real sense an “unlearning” process in that we were reprogramming our bodies and minds to deal with physical reality in a new, more efficient manner.
[Read more...]

Jun
06

“O-Sensei’s Spiritual Writings: Where did they really come from?” by Stanley Pranin

“The published books containing quotations attributed to Morihei Ueshiba available in various Western languages are based on “sanitized” Japanese versions of Morihei’s words.”

Recently, due to the publication of a series of books whose authorship has been attributed to Morihei Ueshiba, founder of aikido, I have felt compelled to weigh in on the subject of what O-Sensei actually did write during his career as a martial artist. The answer is in brief, “almost nothing.”

Works attributed to him–both before and after the war–were based on his spoken words and lectures rather than on texts that he had composed himself. They were transcribed and edited primarily by his son, Second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and by several trusted students having varying degrees of literary skills. This is especially the case after World War II. Much of what we think of as the spiritual writings of Morihei is based on material published in the “Aikido Shimbun” of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo starting in 1959 and continuing following his passing in 1969. What was published in the “Aikido Shimbun” as “Doka” (Songs of the Way) were actually culled from heavily edited transcriptions of tape-recorded talks and lectures given by O-Sensei inside the dojo and elsewhere.

To understand the rationale for the editing of Morihei’s remarks, one must take into consideration the times and psychology of the Japanese during this period. World War II had recently ended, and much of the population were either direct participants, or deeply affected by the war and its outcome. Japan had acquired the stigma of a defeated nation, and many Japanese wished to distance themselves from all things associated with the conflict and those that had led the country into it.

During the early postwar period, subjects related to Japan’s military and political institutions, State Shinto, and the heavy destruction wrought upon the country were topics many Japanese chose to avoid due to the painful associations they held. Moreover, Morihei’s active role in teaching at numerous military installations during the 1930s and early 40s was a subject that the Aikikai chose to mention only in passing for understandable reasons.

Given Morihei’s tendency to speak using religious terminology and concepts, and the difficulty modern Japanese had in interpreting his meaning, the decision-makers at the Hombu Dojo chose to edit O-Sensei’s words in an attempt to make them more palatable to the postwar generation. Another important consideration in this decision was the fact that the effort to disseminate aikido on foreign soil was in full swing. It was thought that foreign enthusiasts of the art would be incapable of understanding such religious imagery anyway, and that some might take offense considering that many early practitioners abroad were themselves war veterans, or adversely affected by the war.
[Read more...]

May
20

Stanley Pranin’s Video Blog: “Should Weapons be a Part of Aikido Training?”

“Where did the Founder Morihei Ueshiba stand on this issue?”

Aikido Journal Editor Stanley Pranin offers a video blog in which he discusses the issue of whether or not Aikido training should involve the practice of weapons. He provides some historical background and explains the reasoning for the two major viewpoints on this subject.

Finally, he discusses two DVDs by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, that present the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo curriculum.

Click here for information on Morihiro Saito’s Aiki Ken video now in hi-res format
May
10

“How to find an Aikido dojo by following these 8 steps,” by Stanley Pranin

“You may find that Aikido offers a new tool for cultivating your body and spirit, and continuing opportunities for forging new friendships.”

Aikido has been practiced in the west for more than 50 years. It is not the best known of the many oriental martial arts on the scene, but it does offer several unique advantages for learning self-defense, and can end up completely altering your world view on human interaction. In the paragraphs that follow, I offer a few suggestions about things to consider before enrolling in an aikido school.

Examine your motives for wanting to learn aikido

Before you start your search for a suitable aikido school, called a “dojo,” it’s worthwhile to carefully consider your motives for learning the art. In most cases, those who have seen a Steven Seagal movie and believe the action scenes reflect training in aikido dojos are likely to be disappointed.

Let me explain why this is so. The founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), was a martial arts master and also a devoutly religious person. He lived through the prelude and horrors of World War II and this cataclysmic event strongly influenced the modern form of the art that was popularized in the postwar era. Morihei was strongly against introducing a competitive element into aikido, or converting it into a sport as had been the case with the old jujutsu schools that were the forerunners of judo.

The founder regarded his martial art as a tool for bettering oneself through the culitvation of one’s body and mind, ultimately achieving a higher spiritual plane by going beyond fighting and conflict. He regarded the world as a single family and aikido as a unifying force.

Although there are many training methods and schools of thought about what aikido is, most dojos and aikido instructors are at least aware of the founder’s vision and sympathetic to his way of thinking.

Read up on the subject

Since the philosophical underpinnings of aikido are rather different from most other martial arts accessible to the public, it would be time well spent to explore the life of Morihei Ueshiba and the history of the art to get a feel for its principles and goals. The Aikido Journal Members Site has vast resources that will help you in your search for accurate information on the subject. There are countless other websites with information on the art–many of those associated with aikido schools–that offer all sorts of introductory articles that may prove useful.

After educating yourself on the subject, you may conclude that aikido is not really suited to your purposes, and seek elsewhere for training options. On the other hand, you may find that Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido will offer a wonderful means for transforming your life, offer a new tool for cultivating your body and spirit, and continuing opportunities for forging new friendships.
[Read more...]