The Benefits of Aikido

The benefits of Aikido are many, and can last a lifetime. As a path of self-development, Aikido leads towards the integration of mind, body, and spirit – towards making us complete human beings, which not only benefits us, but benefits the people around us.

Physically and psychologically, Aikido is at the same time very complex and yet very simple. The changes it can make in our lives begin at the surface and go as deep as we let it.

Specifically, physical benefits of Aikido practice include increased balance, coordination, reaction, and sense of timing; improved posture, flexibility and aerobic conditioning; a greater awareness of our bodies and how we express ourselves through our bodies; and a more relaxed and confident presence.

Mental benefits include this increased self-awareness and relaxation; better ability to resolve conflicts and deal with stressful situations in a calmer and more positive manner; greater self-confidence and self-discipline; and the constant challenge of self-development and learning new skills.

Spiritual benefits include being able to improve one’s own quality of living; to break or change old habits and conditioning; to see things with greater clarity and perceptiveness; and to have a greater intuitive understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

Aikido is well-suited for self-defense. Aikido techniques are done against a variety of attacks – kicks, punches, strikes, chops, grabs by one or both hands to wrists, elbows, shoulders (from front or back), combination attacks, some knife or gun attacks, and attacks by more than one person. Because it trains not only the body, but the mind and spirit as well, it is a holistic approach to defense and self-protection. Aikido training develops one’s energy and expression of energy and enables the practitioner to maintain a calm state of mind under adverse conditions. On one level, with increased awareness and self-confidence and better posture and movement, you will be able to avoid potential situations. On another level, if someone does attack you, your training will enable you to react in a way the attacker may not expect, which may diffuse the attack by itself.

Yet on another level, if you are in a situation where you do have to do something, Aikido teaches you basic, effective body movement, techniques, escapes, and immobilizations that you can use to protect yourself in many situations.

The Birth of Aikido in India

Yin and Yan of Aikido. (Sensei Paritos Kar with the author as uke.)

Pic: CMA Times. January, 2007 (New Delhi)

The New Delhi Aikido Dojo was opened in November 2004 by Sensei Paritos Kar, a 4th Dan Black Belt from Aikikai Hombu Dojo Tokyo, who returned to India after living for 15 years of in Japan.

Sensei Paritos Kar is one of the few martial art instructors in India to have the courage to start teaching aikido professionally. To come to Delhi to open an aikido dojo was undoubtedly a big decision for him to make: aikido is almost unheard of in India and it is considered to be a non-competitive “sport” and so it does not interest schools. Moreover, it requires mats and a dedicated space. However, Sensei Kar’s sincerity and dedication helped him to overcome the initial difficulties and attracted like-minded people to help him in his mission.

During the two years of the dojo’s existence, the active membership has grown stronger: as of now, there are about 30 adults, Indians and foreigners, men and women, all training cooperatively. Many current dojo members have a martial arts background. However it is often said that once you start practicing aikido, it is practically impossible to go back to other martial arts because aikido is so different in its approach.

The uniqueness of aikido lies it its spiritual philosophy which was taught by the founder, O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba and encompasses an attitude of peace and love for all living beings and a oneness with nature and the cosmos. As peace and love have no enemies, an aikido practitioner has no enemies, no opponents to fight. Any aggressive force directed at an aikido practitioner is redirected and effectively neutralized without doing harm to the attacker. The aikidoka’s response is fast, the technique is invisible and it utilizes the aggressor’s own energy and turns it against him. This normally is enough to stop the aggressor in his tracks and to prevent an escalation of the conflict.

Aikido training is not soft or easy by any means. In fact, it is considered one of the most technically difficult and even “esoteric” martial arts. However, the good news is that there are no age limits in aikido. In the Hombu Dojo (The World Aikido Headquarters), Tokyo, I saw many senior people, some in their seventies and even eighties, practicing aikido on a regular basis. There was an elderly man who had knee replacement surgery who was a regular in the early morning class, always with a small foldable stool to help him to do the sitting techniques. The age factor is not a problem in aikido. On the contrary, with many years of practice the techniques become awesomely powerful and imperceptible. The practitioner does not rely on muscle strength but invisibly blends and utilizes the energy of his or her partner/opponent.

I have never met a person who claimed that they had perfected their aikido. The aiki spirit is ever elusive and the search for perfection lasts a life time. It becomes a way of life for many practitioners. In our dojo we have regular visitors from abroad. This is another tradition: an aikidoka while traveling prefers to carry his keiko-gi (practice uniform) and a hakama (black traditional samurai pants) with him – just in case there is an opportunity to practice.

Aikido practitioners from different counties are welcome to practice in our dojo. Through them we get exposure to different styles and, indirectly, to the teaching of various great aikido masters.

In 2006 the dojo was fortunate to hold 3 seminars conducted by distinguished aikido masters: Shihan Gaku Homma Sensei, the founder and chief instructor of the Nippon Kan, Denver, USA, Shihan Terry Ezra Sensei, the founder and chief instructor of Komyokan Aikido, UK, and K. Sakurai Sensei, 6th dan from the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Not only did these senseis came and stayed in New Delhi at their own expense, they also taught the students for free. Their mastery of the art combined with their goodwill has helped to boost the nascent art of aikido in India and give tremendous encouragement and experience to our pioneering aikido students.

It is evident that after the two years of hard work and sacrifice on the part of Sensei Paritos Kar, the New Delhi Aikido Dojo has finally established itself and is poised for new growth. We hope that the year 2007 will be rich in aikido experiences and events and that the dojo will attract more dedicated, talented Indian students capable of becoming aikido instructors.

Report: Aikido gains popularity in India (2)

NDTV.com, Sports Section
Thursday, March 16, 2006 (New Delhi)

A martial art similar to Kung Fu called Aikido is gaining popularity in India.

In spite of there being just a single instructor in the whole country, Aikido has definitely made a small beginning in the Capital.

A narrow corridor leads you to the Aikido centre in New Delhi. A small but dedicated lot of aikido students meditate just before starting the day’s practice.

This Aikido centre was started about a year back by Sensei Paritos Kar and is the only one of its kind in India.

“Aikido is a self defence martial art but the difference between Aikido and other martial arts is the way to harmony.

“Aikido is not only physical but it’s also a physio, psycho and spiritual martial art. So in the physical aspect, it helps very much,” said Paritos Kar, Aikido instructor.

Hands-on approach

Aikido promotes a hands-on approach to healing. It energises the joints, improves circulation and even coordinates breathing.

Paritos Kar, a fourth dan black belt has been practicing Aikido for 15 years in Japan.

What’s striking about this art is that there are no competitions. It simply encourages a person to follow his own path of Aikido.

“A proper exercise is something that exercises you completely and not just physically. It’s also an exercise where you’re emotionally and spiritually involved because what you are doing is not just normal moves,” said Manisha Mathur, an Aikido student.

In a bid to popularise the art form in India, the Aikido foundation hopes to bring in some more instructors and even introduce it in schools.

Aikido may be in its nascent stage but with the growing awareness of alternative sport and sophisticated fight sequences in Bollywood, it may soon become extremely popular with the common man.

Report: Aikido gains popularity in India

NDTV.com, Sports Section
Tuesday, February 28, 2006 (New Delhi)

The Aikido centre in New Delhi, which was started about a year ago by Sensei Paritos Kar, is the only one of its kind in India.

The art involves no punches, no kicks but simply involves the dynamics of movement.

“Aikido is a self-defensive martial art. But the difference between Aikido and other martial arts is [that it is] the way to harmony. It is not only physical but it’s also a physiological, psychological and spiritual martial art. In the physical aspect, it helps very much,” said Paritos Kar, the Aikido instructor.

Kar, a 4th dan black belt, has been practicing Aikido for the past 15 years in Japan.

The sport promotes a hands-on approach to healing. It energizes the joints, improves circulation and even coordinates breathing.

“A proper exercise is something that exercises you completely not just physically. It is also an exercise where you are emotionally and spiritually involved because what you are doing is not just normal moves,” said Manisha Mathur, an Aikido student.

Follow the path

Perhaps one of the most striking things about this martial art is that there are no competitions. It simply encourages a person to follow his own path of Aikido.

“I’m also a physician and I can tell you that Aikido has tremendous health aspects and its warm up exercises, the stretching, the flexibility and learning to blend with other people’s energies, works well both at home and the workplace and the real world,” said Dr Ken Dekleva, an Aikido student.

Aikido includes sword and staff techniques and also open hand skills. In a bid to popularize this martial art form in India, the Aikido Foundation of India hopes to bring in some more instructors and even introduce it in schools.

Although the idea of a martial art as striving for peace and harmony may seem like an oxymoron, it definitely is the basic essence of this art form.

Aikido may be in its nascent stages but with the growing awareness of alternative sport and sophisticated fight sequences in Bollywood, it may soon become extremely popular with the common masses.

A Martial Manifestation

Martial arts enthusiasts are in for a treat this weekend in Delhi with the visit of an American grandmaster.

Shihan Gaku Homma Sensei, a student of Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido will hold a seminar and public demonstration of this spiritual martial art based on harmony (ai), spirit (ki) and finding ones way in life (do).

Adapted from the more violent fighting art jujutsu, this gentle martial art combines circular movements, breathing and meditation which increase a person’s energy, fitness and peace of mind.

It can also prove very effective for self defence. Rather than meet an attacker head on, aikido practitioners use circular movements to avoid an attack and use their opponents own force against them.

“You don’t have to be strong and you certainly don’t have to be aggressive to do Aikido,” said Delhi’s only Aikido master Paritos Kar, who trained in Japan for more than 15 years.

The lessons students learn about neutralising aggression can help to bring harmony to everyday life, he added, explaining that the spiritual aspects of the art have to be practiced to be properly understood.

“We are very fortunate to have a teacher of this calibre visiting us in Delhi.”

Shihan Gaku Homma Sensei who hails from the Rocky Mountains is known for his spiritual approach to martial arts. He also has a unique teaching method which combines kenjutsu (sword) and jojutsu (staff) and taijitsu (open hand).

Seminar with Gaku Homma Sensei

International Aikido Seminar conducted by Gaku Homma Sensei on 4-5 February 2006 in New Delhi: PRESS RELEASE

If Steven Seagal’s quick movements (or his seeming lack of movement) have fascinated you or if you’ve been left open-mouthed with his martial art technique that seems to be so smooth, so swift and yet so very effective even without the usual kicks and punches, then the International Seminar held by the Aikido Foundation of India at the Sanskriti School gymnasium was where you ought to be. Seagal is an Aikido black belt.

The seminar, (4th – 5th February), will see 15 Aikido black belts and 20 students (more are expected to join on-the-spot) practicing this art for ten hours. Demonstration will open for the public in the afternoon of the first day. The event is co-sponsored by the Sun Group.

The delegation from USA is headed by the Shihan Gaku Homma Sensei, a direct student of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. He is accompanied by seven high-ranking Aikido practitioners. Homma Sensei is the founder and chief instructor of the Nippon Kan School, which is the biggest school in the Rocky Mountain area in the US. His unique teaching methods combine sword and staff techniques with the open-hand techniques.

The Aikido Foundation of India was founded in Delhi by Sensei Paritos Kar in 2004. Paritos Sensei is fourth Dan (degree black belt), who did his entire 15 years of training in Japan. The Aikido dojo (training centre) in Andrews Gunj has 19 students, only 6 of whom are children.

Those interested can contact the dojo at 9811155388.

What is Aikido?

Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba, also known as O Sensei. Aikido was founded when O Sensei, dissatisfied despite his mastery in jujitsu, began looking for a deeper meaning to life. He finally incorporated his martial arts training to his religious and political ideologies to create aikido or “The Way of Harmony of the Spirit”.

Aikido is a defensive non-aggressive art. It seeks to unify mind and body so that the student trains at remaining calm and centered in the face of an attack. Practitioners, rather than tiring themselves out with kicks and punches, use the opponent’s own strength to gain control over them and throw them off, with emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement. Thus Aikido is unique in that it can be learned and practiced by anyone from six to 80 years.

Because aikido combines martial arts, religious and political ideology, there is no unified philosophy of aikido. There is, instead, a collection of religious, ethical, and metaphysical beliefs. Some examples: “Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family.” “The essence of aikido is the cultivation of ki [a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual energy].” “The secret of aikido is to become one with the universe.” “Aikido is primarily a way to achieve physical and psychological self-mastery.” “The body is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created by the universe.” And so forth.

At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads: (1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible. (2) A commitment to self-improvement through aikido training.

Dance your way to de-stress

Sensei Paritos Kar and Takahiro Noguchi

Looking for a way to keep fit, de-stress and also learn self defence into the bargain? Aikido, a non-aggressive martial art from Japan, offers just that.

Watching people practicing aikido you could easily get the impression that you have accidentally stumbled across some kind of modern dance class.

Small groups of women, men and even children move back and forth with graceful, coordinated movements which often appear to have little to do with self-defense. Adapted from the more violent fighting art jujutsu, this gentle martial art combines circular movements, breathing and meditation to increase a person’s internal energy or ki. But it is still very effective in fending off unwelcome approaches.

Jo PracticeRather than meet an attacker head on, aikido practitioners learn to move out of the way of their opponent and use their energy against them. Participants take turns performing dance-like movements, simulating attacks and defenses which provide an energetic workout. But for many, aikido – known as one of the more spiritual martial arts – is as much about the mind and spirit as the body.

“I was inspired by the philosophy of aikido which says that we must blend and harmonise with the universe and other people,” says 24-year-old Sajan Nair. “Since I took it up last April I feel more at peace with myself. I am able to keep my cool.”

Alan Nykamp, an American student who started practicing three months ago, claims to have the best of both worlds since he replaced body building and football with the Japanese martial art: “On a physical level I have lost about 10 kgs and have much more energy than before. I feel charged with a great deal of positive energy.” Involving a lot of twisting from the waist, bending, rolling on gym mats and stretching, aikido is an excellent way to trim abs, increase flexibility and build up strength without bulking out muscles. This often makes it popular with women as brute force is not part of the training.

Aikido is a gentle martial art which combines breathing and meditation.“You will gain inner peace, stay fit and get stronger through regular practice,” explains Paritos Kar, the Bengali aikido master who studied in Tokyo for 15 years before returning to India to open a dojo (martial arts centre) in South Delhi. “It’s not just about the body but also the mind and oneness with the spirit. Only by combining all of these can we really be healthy.”

(Published in HT City on 29th August 2005. Photos: Rajesh Kashyap.)

Experience the Power of Aikido

Experience the Power of Aikido

Aikido is a non-aggressive Japanese martial art with graceful flowing circular movements and powerful techniques. The word Aikido can be translated as “the Way of Harmony with the Universal Energy”. This spiritual art has been born out of enlightenment of the great teacher Morihei Ueshiba (known as O-Sensei) in the early 20th century. Aikido emphasizes the idea of striving towards harmony and unity with every living being by following the rules of Nature.

Aikido enjoyed a steady growth in popularity both in Japan and abroad starting in the early 1950s. India, however, is still a virgin territory for this martial art. The good news are that now New Delhi can be proud of its own active Aikido dojo where classes are held twice daily, thanks to the sole effort of a selfless, dedicated individual. New Delhi Aikido dojo was opened in November 2004 by Sensei Paritos Kar who is a 4th degree black belt from Aikikai Hombu Dojo, Tokyo. Sensei Kar has been living for 15 years in Japan learning this art before he decided to come back to India to promote Aikido in his birth country. According to him, this is his life’s goal and sole purpose.

Although Aikido is considered to be one of the most technically difficult martial arts, is can be practiced by everyone, men and women, till a very mature age, unlike other martial arts. In fact, newcomers are very easily get assimilated into Aikido and in a very short period of time they start experiencing positive effects of their practice: higher levels of physical fitness and overall energy, calm mind, increased self-confidence, and ability to remain relaxed and centered in adverse circumstances.

Whatever one’s motive for learning Aikido is, one should remember that, like in all true paths of self-development, a life-long dedicated practice is the only secret of success.

Popularizing Aikido in India may not be an easy task for a single individual to accomplish, but Sensei Paritos Kar’s single-minded determination and love for this martial art, combined with help of his enthusiastic students, will surely bear good fruits in the nearest future.

Words of the Founder – Morihei Ueshiba, O-Sensei

Aikido manifests a way to order the world to be united as one family. It is to help God build a paradise on earth.

The unity of the world comes from the unity of each country, and the unity of a country depends upon that of each family. As a unit of the universe as well as a part of a family, each person should fulfill his duty to unite the world. What he should first do is train himself well enough for the purpose. Without completing one’s training, it is impossible to be of service to God. Every creature on the earth pursues its own way. Even if it is an animal or a plant, its way should not be thwarted. This is the law of Nature. Obey Heaven and God. Respect others and yourself. That is the spirit of Aikido.

God created man as a medium between heaven and earth. The spirit of man, which is his inner part is a means of communication with the heavens, and the body, his outer part, a means of communicating with the earth.

As the body is under the influence of the spirit, our mind should be one with that of God to bring peace and happiness to the human society. It is regrettable, however, that we are too involved in the matters of the physical domain to take the spirit into careful consideration.

Force is frequently used in the material world. Weapons of all sorts are needed there. So long as the two worlds, material and spiritual, are not in parallel with each other, demilitarization is just a dream.

There is no technique of killing in the true Bu, which is based upon the spiritual world. True Bu does not need any weapons. It absorbs everything with bare hands and has a perfect command of the opponent. Aiming to be in accord with the dispensation of nature, true Bu makes more of spiritual training than technical skill. That is what Aikido has as its principle.

Characteristics of Aikido Techniques

(From the Aikikai Foundation (Aikido World Headquarters) Brochure)

The goal of Aikido training is not perfection of a step or skill, but to improve one’s character worshipping the rule of nature so that one becomes “tough” inside in such a way that this strength is expressed softly in movement. This is exactly like nature: Nature’s movements are efficient, rational, and soft, but the center is immovable, firm, and stable. This can be said for Space and Earth – they all have a hard core – and must be true for human beings. These cores should become as one, so that the culmination of nature can be expressed.

Maintaining this firm, stable center, Aikido movement, with its emphasis on spherical rotation, is characterized by flowing, almost dance-like, circular motions (pivoting, entering, circling) that are used to overcome and control the strength of the opponent. The principle of spherical rotation makes it possible to defend one’s self from an opponent of superior size, strength, and experience.

Although Aikido movements are as soft, rational, and smooth as nature, by applying a bit of force, it can become “tough” and devastating. The soft or gentle quality of Aikido makes it appealing to people of all ages. In fact, Aikido can be enjoyed by all men and women (regardless of age) and children. It not only offers spiritual development, but also provides exercise and teaches proper etiquette and behavior.

At the heart of Aikido is the Oriental concept of the universal creative principle, Ki. Aikido (“the way of harmony with Ki“) seeks to achieve the total unification of this universal Ki with the Ki (life force or breath) of the individual self.