The peaceful warrior

Paritos Kar has been teaching Aikido, a non-aggressive Japanese martial art form, in Delhi for five years

WHEN you watch the petite Paritos Kar pin his six-foot-tall opponent down to his knees by simply standing his ground and blocking a punch by a turn of his wrist, it is evident that size does not matter in the world of martial arts. Kar is a fourth-degree black belt in Aikido, a Japanese martial art form which does not rely on speed and power to gain the upper hand in a confrontation. “This form relies on grace and fluid body movements, together with the ability to control one’s thoughts,” explains sensei Kar, who has been running his dojo (classroom) at the Arya Samaj Mandir premises in Greater Kailash, Part II, for the past 10 months. «In this technique, we primarily teach self-defence, not attack. Attack is only used once all other methods have failed,» says Kar, helping his opponent up.

It is evening, and Kar is surrounded by about 25 students in traditional uniforms — a white cotton top and pleated black skirt called the hakama. The class is about to commence. Before the routine kicks in, the students pay tribute to the founder of Aikido, Osensei Morehei Ueshiba, by bowing in respect in front of his black-and-white portrait on the wall. Ueshiba was a 20th Century Japanese martial arts practitioner who believed in a peaceful and non-confrontational technique against an adversary. “AI” stands for harmony, “KI” is the universal energy and “DO” translates into the way.

For Kar, it all began 24 years ago, when he went to Tokyo as a visiting tourist after graduating from university in West Bengal. Smitten by Aikido, he stayed on for 15 years and mastered, apart from Aikido, the Japanese language. Kar has been teaching the martial art form for five years in Delhi after a brief stint in Russia.

Aikido is as much about spirituality as it is about non-aggression and Kar makes it a point to set aside an hour every day for meditation and yoga. “Aikido helps improve flexibility, boosts confidence, increases attention span, humility and tolerance towards others,” Kar says. As Arshad, 40, a sports teacher by profession, lunges towards Kar with a raised leg, in a sudden attack, Kar patiently rotates his hips, grabs hold of Arshad’s leg and pushes it down to the floor in one artistic move. “Being a taekwando student for 30 years, I was unable to connect with my spiritual being. This technique helped me maintain control and also defend myself in case of an attack,” explains Arshad, a first-degree black belt in Aikido, after he falls flat on his back

Kar says there are no age restrictions in Aikido, since it is not physically demanding. “Yet, it is a great way of keeping fit. A one-hour routine can burn 300 calories,” he adds. With only a handful of Aikido practitioners in India, the exclusivity of this technique can be gauged by that fact that there are no competitions held here*.

(*This statement is inaccurate, because in general there are no competitions in Aikido. To quote from “Traditional Aikido”, by Morihiro Saito, Vol. V, “It is a well-known fact that matches are prohibited in Aikido. This is because Aikido has inherited a number of lethal techniques from its Founder, which render matches too dangerous an exercise, and also because the art purports to place no restrictions on every conceivable movement.” – Y.P.)


Gently Strong


n an Aikido class Nandini Nair finds that martial arts can be about harmony


“Because of Aikido I was able to defend myself from an attack,” says Yulia Pal. Aikido helped in saving her when violently attacked while taking a walk in the city’s Jahapanah park. Paritos Kar, fourth Dan of Aikido Aikikai Foundation of India, who has learnt this art from Japan, has been teaching this non-combative art form for four years in Delhi.

Aikido is different from other marital arts because it is not competitive. With Aikido meaning “harmony” it is little surprise that this form is more about a philosophy than competition. But make no mistake, it’s not a soft spot at all as it provides a complete workout and can disarm attackers. Kar says, “Aikido helps in self defence, fitness, confidence and discipline.”

There are only four members in today’s dojo with the festive season keeping most of the others away. But there’s an unusual dignity and serenity about this class located near Lady Shri Ram College. Everyone speaks in hushed tones and addresses each other with a gentle bow. The members are dressed in the traditional white pants and angrakha-like shirts called keikogi. The seniors and Kar himself wear a hakama, a black drape that is tied waist down.

The class begins with a brief meditation. We sit on our knees, with legs folded back and feet touching each other. This is to clear the mind and help in concentration. While Aikido originated more than 100 years ago in Japan, it has no religious leanings. And the meditation is more about clearing one’s mind than about praying to any force.

Next come the gentle warm up exercises. They include punching the air with one’s fist and drawing back. Then there are body rotations. This is followed by stretches. The stretches are performed standing upright and some other lying on the floor. While standing, the knees are bent gently and rotated. In the floor exercises, one holds the back of ones knees and rolls back and forth like a baby. Then the feet are gently pounded with the hands, followed by a quick and efficient rubbing of the ears and neck. These series of exercises lasts for only about 10 minutes and helps to get the joints lubricated and make the body supple.


With Aikido being mainly about throws, students first pay attention to rolling and falling. Because of the throws, it is practised indoors and with partners. Rolling requires technique and is not about just barrelling down the floor. 


I stare open mouthed as students adroitly roll down the 30 feet of padded mat. First they do so silently, and then with a sonorous thud. This is for the experts, and I decide it’s time to roll out of the class.

Nandini Nair (

Photos: Shanker Chakravarty 

The Hindu (Saturday, Nov 01, 2008)

Self-defense for women: a lonely park scenario

An attact can happen to anyone, at any age, in any place. There are some tips on what you can do in such a situation.

1. Avoid and Prevent

It is best to avoid isolated, dark places. Avoid dressing provocatively – you are inviting trouble.

2. Be aware of your surroundings

In a potentially dangerous place increase your level of alertness. Be aware of who is walking in front of you and behind you. Mentally be prepared for any eventuality.

3. Be firm. Show no fear

If someone makes suggestive remarks to you, be calm, firm, do not insult or inflame the potential aggressor. Show no fear. Immediately head or run towards a safer place.

4. Run

Even if you are trained in martial arts, Running away is still the most sensible option.

5. Never turn your back on a potential aggressor

Attacks frequently happen from behind, unexpectedly.

6. Take your dog on a leash

If you have your dog with you but he is non-aggressive (not likely to attack human beings), immediately take him on the leash and keep close to yourself. Any threat to you will be interpreted by your dog as a threat to him. His aggressive pose, growling or barking is likely to scare off the aggressor.

7. Yell for help

If you have been attacked, do not be shy to shout for help. Yell as loudly as possible, even if there is no one around.

8. Fight on

Do not feel inhibited if your clothes are torn during the fight. When the situation is over, you will receive all necessary help from people/police.

9. Pick up objects of self-defense

Ordinary objects like sticks, rocks, a handbag, an umbrella, keys or a pen can be used. Shoe heals are powerful weapons. Do no hesitate to inflict pain to the aggressor – your life is in danger.

10. Painful/critical points on the body

Temples, eyes, throat, septum of the nose, solar plexus area, groin, knee caps, shin bone, instep (for a heal attack), armpits.

11. Do not loose your mind

Calculate: what is really happening? what is the worst thing that can happen? what are the possible options? what is the best option for you NOW? Then act accordingly and decisively.

12. Assess the threat

An aggressor may threaten to use a knife on you. Access whether the knife threat is real or not. Access whether the attacker is alone or his buddies are nearby.

13. Do not get paralyzed with fear. Do not panic. Do not attribute any powers to the attacker

Put up a resistance. Look for a weakness in your attacker. Look for an opening. Pre-empty. Never mentally assume that your attacker is more powerful than you.

14. In case of a ground fight, do not give up

Continue resistance. Make yourself a hard target. Your endurance for a length of time may wear out your aggressor.

15. Maintain the presence of mind

During a fight, both the sides are in an altered psychological state: their powers are increased manifold, they feel no pain. In such a situation, a person who maintains the presence of mind, who is not overcome with emotion wins.

Remember, people under the influence of narcotic drugs, FEEL NO PAIN. Physical injuries will not deter them.

16. Invoke for Divine guidance, help and protection

In comes as the last point, but this is the first thing I personally advise you to do.


(Yulia Pal. September 2008)

Things Aikido is Giving me

1. Faster Reaction

Recently I was driving home from the aikido class. It was dark. Suddenly the car to my left abruptly swerved, almost “jumped” towards my car. The driver of this car did to avoid an accident – when he was just about to pass a stationary vehicle, its door suddenly opened. Thankfully, I also reacted immediately by “jumping” to the left. I am so grateful to my Aikido training for my fast reaction in this incident.

2. A State of Alert Relaxation

In Aikido you learn to consciously keep your body and mind relaxed. When you are relaxed, you are fast and precise in whatever you do. When your body is tense, you become erratic and prone to injury.


3. Falling Correctly

When you fall on the mat 20-30 times during a practice, 7 days a week, 356 days a year, for several years, your body’s response to a fall becomes automatic. Knowing how to fall correctly saved me from injuries at home and on the street on several occasions.

In our dojo we had a student who was a respected martial artist. One day, while driving a motorcycle, he was his hit by a car from behind. The force of the impact propelled him forward but he was able to do an ukemi in the air and landed on his hands, thus saving his head.

4. Peaceful Mind

Learning a martial art gives you peace of mind, the inner confidence that you can protect yourself in case of a need. Normally, knowledge of a martial art does not make a person aggressive. It removes the fear of facing an aggressive person. If a “situation” arises, you need not fight, you may just run away, but you will do it in conscious awareness, without panic.

5. Discipline and Etiquette

Japanese martial arts are famous for their ceremonial etiquette and for the discipline they instill in a student. It gives certain unmistakable grace and dignity to a person, which is rare to find in our “fast everything” times.

6. Good Friends

It seems Aikido attracts certain type of people. They are “intelligentsia” of they martial art world – not “brainless, fight-happy” guys and gals. Aikido is tough, out of hundred newcomers only few students will continue to practice, but whoever stays on, are “good people”.

7. Physical Fitness

It goes without saying that a fit body makes you feel good about yourself.

8. Weapons Training

It may have no practical value, but knowing how to handle the traditional Japanese sword, tanto (knife) and staff is COOL.

Yulia Pal. September 2008.

Aikido Principles for Life

There are some thoughts about O-sensei’s Aikido and its practical application in our lives. There is much more about Aikido, but even these three principles are too much for us to handle…

1. The Principle of Non-resistance to Force

An Aikido response is opposite to what many of us are conditioned to do when facing a difficult situation. The society-conditioned reaction of an average person is to resist or to deny the situation. An aikidoist’ momentary approach would be: “This is the situation. How can I use it to my advantage?” In fact, the whole Aikido training is about ingraining this approach on the level of your intuition.

In aikido you learn to go with the flow, accepting the aggressiveness of your partner and redirecting his own force creatively in order to neutralize him without harming.

“This is the situation. What is the lesson to learn here? How can I use it to my advantage?” – when you apply the same approach in life, your life stops being “hard” or “depressing”. Life becomes interesting, you start evolving.

2. The Principle of Emotional Non-Reaction

Aikido is a unique martial art because it’s not about fighting. There are no opponents – only partners. There is no aggressive sparring – you cooperate with your partner. There are even no competitions and medals – your victory is the victory over your “smaller” self.

Aikido is not even about defending yourself. When you feel no anger – you have no enemy to fight against. When you have no guilt, you have nothing to defend. When you have no emotional reaction to a life situation, you have the power to solve it constructively.

Your shield is your righteousness: when you do the right thing, you harmonize yourself with the Universe. When you are ONE with the Universe, it will automatically protect you through the Law of Karma.

3. The Principle of Ki (Qi) or Life Energy

There are many debates in the Aikido world about the existence of mysterious Кi. Whether you believe in it or not, does not matter. People-who-know work with and use Ki in their Aikido practice. There are many levels of Aikido training. In the beginning, it’s all about techniques and body mechanics. On the higher levels, it’s about energy. And that is why learning Aikido takes a lifetime. You do not learn Aikido, you mature into it.

On the surface, in your training you keep repeating the same basic techniques over and over again; but the act of constant polishing slowly opens a new dimension – the dimension of energy, even to a rationalist. You can get a glimpse of “Aikido magic” while training with a Master. And from that moment on you are hooked for life because you will ever seek to learn THAT-what-you-cannot-put-in-words.

We are multi-dimensional beings, not only physical. However, very few people know what are the implications and practical applications of this fact. When you become aware of the energy aspect of your being and when you learn how to utilize it positively and constructively, you will be able to enhance all aspects of your life – your physical, financial, relationship and spiritual wellbeing.

Yulia Pal. Sept. 2008
New Delhi Aikido Dojo