The Japanese martial art Aikido was founded in the early 20th century by Morehei Ueshiba after he studied jujutsu and other arts involving the sword and staff. In the early 1950s, Ueshiba turned over leadership of Hombu Dojo, the Aikido headquarters, to his son Kisshomaru who was responsible for standardizing the organization. It was during this time that aikido fully developed to its present form.
Aikido is written in three Japanese characters. “Ai” is harmony. “Ki” is energy. “Do” is the way or path. Thus aikido is the way to harmonize with energy. The concept of ki is common in Asian culture and is known as chi or qi in Chinese. Ki is internal energy that we all have and use in our daily life. How we use our energy and interact with the energy of others is the basis of aikido practice.
Our ki can be positive or negative. It is seen as positive when we are happy and joyful and negative when we are sad or angry. Just like night and day, positive and negative ki are opposites that co-exist. There is nothing bad or good—it just is. We can be happy or angry, joyful or sad. We can choose who we are being at each minute.
Applying Aikido Training Concepts
The basic concept in aikido is nonconflict. We look for ways to deflect and redirect the incoming energy. We do not look to overpower or dominate; we look to defuse.
Through aikido training, we explore ways of being and assess our impact on others. We receive immediate feedback through the feeling of our technique and movement. Our partners give us feedback on how the movement feels. Movement that feels free, relaxed and flowing is considered good. Movement that is forced, muscled or rigid is basis for improvement.
We learn remain relaxed in the face of differing interactions. An attack may be slow and considered or it may be fast and strong. We need to deal with each interaction in a relaxed, firm and confident manner. What we learn through this practice, we apply to our daily life. At work, at home or in social situations, we apply our practice to remain consistent in all of our daily interactions.
Being consistent in each interaction requires choice and courage. In the interval between any stimulus—an attack, comment, question, driving a car—and our reaction, we choose how we act. It takes courage to first choose our action and then to follow through with that action. Training in aikido provides opportunities to practice choosing and to develop courage in our action.
Glen Matsuda is 6th dan in Aikido and has been studying since 1970. He started Rockland Aikido in 1996, offering classes for adults and for children ages 7 and up. He has taught in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Buenos Aires, Madrid and Dubai. He is a member of the Northeast Teaching Committee. He offers classes in New City and Orangeburg. For more information and class schedule, contact 914-525-2597 or .