- Category: Dojo News
- Published on Wednesday, 30 April 2014 04:12
- Written by paritos
- Hits: 367
Aikido: the art of fighting without fighting
April 5, 2014 Last Updated at 00:15 IST (Business Standard)
In his interview with the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, Congress Vice-president Rahul Gandhi mentioned he loved swimming and running, and also did meditation and aikido. This last revelation might have left a few scratching their heads, or reaching out for Google, and with good reason. A Japanese martial art that originated in the early 20th century, aikido has not attracted the kind of following karate, judo or taekwondo has in India.
"It takes a long time to master aikido and people prefer martial arts where you can master some kicks and punches in a few classes," says Paritos Kar, who has been teaching aikido in Delhi for 10 years and whose students include the Gandhi scion. Kar spent 10 years in Japan learning the martial art, and another few teaching it in Russia, before returning to India.
Kar says aikido is different because though it is used in self-defence, it is a non-aggressive martial art. "There is no winner or loser, and there are no tournaments. The objective is not to beat anybody." It is not a sport, but a way of life, he adds.
The Aikido World Headquarters website says the goal of aikido training "is not perfection of a step or skill, but rather improving one's character according to the rules of nature. One becomes 'resilient' inside yet this strength is expressed softly." If that sounds a bit esoteric, it goes on to add that "a pure budo (or way of martial arts) comes with the unification of technique, body and heart" and that its manifestation depends on the practitioner's heart. The aim of aikido, it says, "is a kindness of heart expressed through this spirit of budo". Not exactly what one might expect to read on a martial arts website but the idea of peace and harmony is central to the philosophy of aikido, as paradoxical as it might sound.
The martial art was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, referred to as O Sensei, in pre-war Japan, though it is said to have been consolidated in its present form in the 1940s, with the word "aikido" being used first in 1942, according to a website dedicated to the history of aikido. After Ueshiba's death, many different style of aikido developed. Kar follows aikikai, the method helmed by O Sensei's grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba. There are other schools all over the country teaching different styles, including in smaller cities like Varanasi, while the aikikai style is taught in Mumbai and Chennai, apart from the capital.
Coming to the more practical aspects, aikido focuses on developing power, irrespective of actual physical strength. Practitioners are taught to use the energy of the attacker to control them, rather than punching or kicking them. It's a martial art that can be learnt by anybody, but to practice, one needs a partner.
There are different levels, and it would take a beginner at least five years to reach the first black belt, before which there are a couple of preliminary exams to be cleared. The final level is ninth and only a few people in the world are said to have reached it in the aikikai style. Kar himself is at the fifth level, while Rahul Gandhi is reported to have a first-level black belt. Courses begin at Rs 2,000 for 12 classes a month.
Though there are three centres in Delhi, growth has been at a snail's pace, say Kar. "There aren't too many people learning aikido because it requires a lot of patience. And in Delhi people don't have patience," he says bluntly.
- Category: Dojo News
- Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:14
- Written by paritos
- Hits: 1266
New Delhi Dojo has moved.
Our new addresses are:
For Morning Classes:
56, Anand Lok,3rd Floor, On Khelgaon Road,Opposite Gargi College,New Delhi.
For Evening Classes:
Thyagaraj Sports Complex.Shri Ganganath Marg, I N A Colony
Near INA Metro Station
- Category: Aikido for Life
- Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:04
- Written by Kathleen Schaub
- Hits: 1162
Martial artists have spent thousands of years discovering special skills that enable them to respond to life's challenges quickly and with maximum efficiency. Aikido, which in Japanese means "the way of uniting Ki spirit," is an art that does just that, and my own Aikido practice has given me much practical counsel. Some of my most vivid lessons were from the first day I participated in randori--an exercise where, instead of defending against just one partner, several people attack at once. Business complexity often arises from a similar spirited interaction of many players with independent motives.
1. Keep your center: In Aikido, your center (or hara) is a physical place where energy and balance originate. It's also a state of mind. Staying calm, one avoids over-confidence, anger, and fear -- those destroyers of intelligence. Keeping your center means you will always act from the position of your greatest power.
2. Start in a logical place: Complex situations, like randori, throw lots of things at you simultaneously. Like many people, my natural instinct was to react first to the nearest danger. I call this the LIFO (last-in, first-out) reaction to complexity. LIFO people react to stress by abandoning important objectives for whatever threat lands in their lap next. However, this reaction allows opponents to dictate the situation. In randori, a LIFO reaction gets you blown hither and yon, frustrating you and accomplishing little. Randori taught me to start proactively in a thoughtful place -- at one end, regardless of the onslaught's source. In complex situations, picking a logical entry point for action (The highest priority? The task with the longest lead time? The player with the most influence?) puts you in control.
3. Keep moving: A mass of attackers comes at you from all sides. Your gut screams, What are you doing walking into that swarm? But your gut is wrong. One of my early senseis, who mashed up Aikido technique with a little street fighting, said, "When you're in a knife fight, you are going to get cut. Your objective is not to die." I learned from Aikido that you can't succeed if you fear moving forward. In complex business situations, inexperienced people tend to freeze up, and a common reaction is completing only the minimal requirements in hopes that the situation will resolve itself. Randoriwisdom teaches that even when things are extremely uncertain, you must act, proactively seeking a better position of power.
4. Anticipate: Randori throws you into a pack of circling wolves, and you do not want to end up in the middle. Keeping attackers in front of you could save your life. However, randori attacks are fast and random, making it difficult to plan maneuvers. As the Star Wars sensei Yoda said, "Always moving is the future."
I found this positioning task the greatest randori challenge, because it requires an extraordinary degree of anticipation. You have to sense where your opponents will go next. Aikido trained me to anticipate by extending my attention beyond the action in my face to see the larger situation. Everyone can do this -- otherwise we'd be watching the windshield wipers instead of the road. In business, this is an information task. Expanding your horizons with diverse experiences and data from a wide range of sources helps you envision a more accurate future. This dynamic vision gives you a place to anchor information as the wolves circle. You can prioritize actions and make better choices.
5. Extend Ki: Finally, randori requires you to reach out to the world with gusto. Ki (the energy force) transforms the situation in an inexplicable way. Situations with energy cycle through to resolution, while situations without energy muddle endlessly. We often underestimate how much power we add to the environment simply with our own personal force. Self-discipline and leading effectively are the simple and practical principles behind many martial-arts techniques. (FORBES)
- Category: Aikido for Life
- Published on Wednesday, 18 April 2012 20:02
- Written by Rajiv Jain
- Hits: 1757
I don’t like going to the gym. I have tried and tried hard. In the years during my under-graduate studies, MA training was not available where I studied. So I tried to do running, gym, games like soccer, basketball etc. I did something or the other throughout. But I did not diligently train any particular thing. That is I burned calories, in many different ways, but there was very little skill acquired for all the work I put in. There just wasn’t enough motivation to continue training beyond a few weeks when the initial tempo gave out and sustained motivation was required to train diligently.
Surprisingly I could not pin point the exact reason why I did not feel motivated. I like being fit. I don’t mind physical hardwork and pain. And I love the feel when after long practice , things I was clumsy and ungainly with initially, I execute with economy and beauty.
One exception to this was martial arts. I have practiced karate and jeet kune do at different times. As long as I was practicing in the dojo, nothing was too hard, over strenuous or boring. Even on days when the practice involved huge number of repetitions, arms and legs felt like lead but inside I was raring to go for the next class.
This feeling was even more pronounced when I started Aikido with Sensei Kar in March 2007. Even with twisted elbows and knees, pain in the back from so many botched ukemies, the desire to go to the next class was always as strong.
My friends and peers frequently ask what is so great about going to my class in spite of the injuries and pain. I used to say that look –
• I have lost 14 kgs in 10 months, without dieting!
• I am so much fitter and strong
• my stamina is up
• I feel full of energy
• I am so much more flexible
• I feel relaxed
What else do you want? But they say, you can get the same benefit by going to a gym, yoga, jogging or any combination of these, and so safe and soft on the body.
I had no answer.
But now I think I see the difference. The difference lies in my objective. If my objective was to get fit and nice looking body and no more, then he gym approach is good. But that alone did not satisfy me so very soon I get bored with only the physical exercise.
My satisfaction seemed to relate to the control and awareness over my body that results from taking ukemi, the loss of fear. The ever increasing capacity to adapt my body in response to the stress put on it.
Learning to take ukemi I think is the key to the heart of Aikido. To adapt to the force and its direction as applied by the Nage, to go along with its application and finding your balance again without loosing the combat initiative.
The sense of relaxation was, I think, a result of reduced anxiety. Anxiety and fear for getting hurt, over uncertainty about a situation, physical or otherwise. It is this loss of fear and the accompanying confidence in my capacity to control my body to ever changing physical and social environment, that makes me feel relaxed and aware at the same time.
‘Relaxed and aware’, I think yogis call this state the ‘witness state’ where one is able to look at one’s circumstance without being emotionally effected by it. To be able to maintain it permanently, for it to become part one’s nature, is the elusive goal for most of us, even though many may not be aware of it.