Aikido – An Introduction
When you think of martial arts, what do you think of? Do you think of karate and tae-kwon-do and cringe at the focus on striking and aggression? We don’t ask if aikido is the best martial art… we ask if it’s the best martial art for you!Let’s list the obvious for a start. Aikido is fun. It’s about movement and aerobic activity. As understanding is acquired there is the satisfaction of working with others to improve and refine and become better at the art. The atmosphere in an aikido dojo is friendly and fun, respectful and safe. If it isn’t, you need to ask yourself why. The founder of aikido wanted people to train with joy. There’s no reason not to! Of course, we’re learning a martial art which has a serious side, but there’s no reason not to have fun with the people that are helping us learn the skills.
An aikido dojo should be a place where everyone has something to contribute and everyone is valued on the mat. Beginners are included in this because they bring a sense of wonder and enthusiasm to something they’re not familiar with. This is not be underestimated in what it can contribute to a dojo. Aikido Synergy values it’s beginners and welcomes their input. Aikido also has a strong social aspect because everyone is on the mat participating in an activity they enjoy with people who have a similar interest, so that friendships are developed as people get top train with others and get to know them. Aikido also has the advantage of being a unique useful self-defence skill which also translates into the application of calmness, awareness, confidence and relaxation into the difficult or stressful sides of our everyday lives that sometimes we just can’t avoid. Handling difficult situations in an aikido way can be of enormous benefit to our sanity levels!
Aikido develops health and well-being, fitness and flexibility. Aikido values a body which is relaxed at the same time the mind is focussed. This leads to a strong mind-body unity which aikido techniques reinforce. Aikido relies on the extension of ki and classes include ki training. Ki is part of the body’s energy systems and can be developed through aikido, and to improve aikido. The training involves relaxation and breathing techniques. Students are introduced to these concepts slowly so that ki extension is developed as physical aikido skills progress. This dual approach enhances the effectiveness of aikido. The wonderful aspect of aikido is that much of the non-technique aikido which is taught can be positively applied to home life and work to enhance the work-life balance and make for a calmer and more peaceful existence. self-defence. Overall, aikido develops and enhances and enriches our lives in many positive ways.
This does not diminish the self-defence within aikido. Improved ki extension means more effective aikido and more effective. Aikido is a true form of self-defence. The primary goal is to avoid injury to the defender and attacker by controlling the attack, immobilising the attacker, and not being part of the conflict through the technique. This means focus is on defence of self and not meeting the attack with aggression and conflict. It’s a questionable self-defence model and mindset to resolve conflict through further conflict or greater force.
Some people question the effectiveness of aikido because of the lack of physical attack and the complete focus on defence and because there is no focus on striking as a form of that defence. Aikido is called the art of peace and an aggressive mindset considers this weakness. It is, in fact, a significant and powerful strength for the flexibility of mindset that it engenders. A relaxed and focussed mind is far more powerful than physical strength and power.
Aikido sometimes looks like a form of dancing because of graceful circular movements often contained within technique. It doesn’t look like fighting because it genuinely isn’t. It uses an attacker’s own strength, momentum and speed, which many may consider advantages, against the attacker. It’s ideal self-defence. Aggression can be defended without aggression. Force can be defended without force. Speed can be defended without speed, momentum without momentum. Instead, it is returned to the attacker. It may sound counter-intuitive but it’s the way aikido work. It’s a bit more sophisticated than ‘hit them back harder’, but that’s a good thing. An attacker can be denied the response they are expecting and have all their strength and aggression redirected back to them so they end up pinned and controlled with complete bewilderment as to how they arrived in their dilemma and with a strong suspicion that they somehow caused it.
Aikido is a martial art which doesn’t attract aggressive or confrontational people. They find other martial arts. Those that find and embrace aikido appreciate the values of calmness, respect, relaxation, confidence and the ability to resolve conflict without conflict that comes with aikido training.