Aikido: “The Art of Peace”
by Dennis Main SenseiÂ Â
Aikido, a martial art originating in Japan during the early 20th century, has ideals that are not just meant for the feudal battlefield but are also appropriate for everyday life. While Aikido adheres to the language and techniques of physical confrontation, the lessons are intended to help students recognize and blend with the harmonious nature of the Universe.
The principles of Aikido are founded on high moral and spiritual ideals. Founder Morihei Ueshiba, O-Sensei’s beliefs seem to contradict what most people think of martial arts. In 1942, during the worst of the fighting of World War II, O-Sensei had a vision of the Great Spirit of Peace, a path that could lead to the elimination of all strife and the reconciliation of humankind. He said, "The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love." O-Sensei secluded himself in the country and devoted every minute of his life thereafter to refining and spreading Aikido.
Within the techniques of Aikido is a philosophy of true love and protection for the whole world. This is often difficult to connect with the practice and techniques of Aikido because fighting techniques involve the painful manipulation of joints, throwing your partner around forcefully and occasionally hitting people outright. Underlying the physical aspect of Aikido, however, is a basic philosophical value of harmonizing, which is present in all of its techniques. Aikido teaches that all things are connected, and that by working in harmony with the energy of the universe and all things within it, one can accomplish anything without conflict.
These principles can translate into our daily experiences. In Aikido, trying to avoid conflict is always the first course of action. Conflicts arise not only on a battlefield but also in everyday situations on the street, at home, at work or in negotiations. Aikido stresses keeping a calm mind and spirit in the face of a conflict. The martial aspect of dealing with an attacker says if you are defeated in your mind, your body will be defeated as well.
When conflict cannot be avoided, Aikido instructs not to resist or try to hit an opponent head on, but instead to be non-resistant. Blend with the attack and move through it. Take the opponent past his expected point of control over you and throw him off balance. This enables even a small person to control a much larger adversary. This technique will cause an opponent to lose focus. In this instant you can take control of the situation. A trained Aikido practitioner will protect himself by using the least amount of force possible.
Students of Aikido feel their practice offers a spiritual path that seeks to purify them and to achieve oneness with God and the Universe. Importantly, Aikido does not specify anything about one particular God or deity. Practitioners can tailor the particulars of Aikido to suit their particular own world-view. The Aikido ideals of non-aggressive action, non-resistance and non-violence play an important part in keeping a moral character that will earn high esteem in today’s society.
Dennis Main Sensei has been studying Aikido for the past 37 years and currently holds the rank of Yondan (4th Degree Black Belt) as recognized by the United States Aikido Federation and the Aikikai World Headquarters. He instructs at Aikido of Charlotte and can be reached at 704-366-6322.