Aikido: the art of fighting without fighting

Aikido: the art of fighting without fighting

Indulekha Aravind 

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.

Aikido Principle

Aikido Principles

Merge with energy to shape actions.
All human actions result from the merger of intention and energy. When someone punches you in the face he is combining energy stored in his arm with the intention to strike you. In traditional martial arts like Karate or boxing, a punch is defeated by blocking it physically. Aikido chooses a more harmonious route. Aikido teaches you to get control of the punch by observing and acting on its structural components – namely energy and intent. Learn to merge with the energy of an attacker. You can use your opponent’s energy to reshape his actions.

Energy cannot be owned.
Energy is mobile and has its own trajectory. It flows constantly. It is what the Hindu’s call Bhram and the Japanese term Ki. Ki can never be owned. Once applied, energy can be used by anyone. Once a person throws a punch and puts energy behind his intention, he has no control over the punch. You can easily use his energy. The belief that energy can be owned makes you inflexible.

Attachments blind you.
When someone punches you, your reaction is to flinch and move out of the way. People call this instinct but it is your attachment to the idea of avoiding pain that makes you move. We think of this as fear but it is simpler than that, it is attachment. This attachment prevents you from observing the true nature of the punch and coopting its energy. You are scared of the punch because you fear what happens when you will be hit. Detach yourself from the fear that the punch creates and you will be able to observe both the energy and intent behind it. You will instantly understand how to use the energy behind your opponents intention.

Balance is fluid.
Properly observing the relationship between intent, energy and action will allow you to understand balance. In a system of two aikido practitioners you derive balance by creating imbalance and vice versa. Don’t allow your opponent balance and he will not be able to apply energy against you. Learn to get comfortable in a state of imbalance. Understand that imbalance and balance are actually the same thing.

There is no enemy.
Your opponent in Aikido is not the enemy, rather he is your partner. He is an integral part of your system. He is you without your attachments. You are him without his attachments. When you fall, learn to protect the mat.

Conflict ends when harmony is created.
You will never end conflict except through harmony. Use observation to restore harmony, not to crush or hurt your opponent, remember he is your partner. Have compassion for him because he is a reflection of you.

Nippon Budokan of Japan is sending delegations of Japanese Martial Arts

Dear Aikido Lovers,
Nippon Budokan of Japan is sending delegations of Japanese Martial Arts which includes Sumo,Aikido,Judo,Kendo,Kyudo,Karatedo etc for a grand demonstration in New Delhi in the month of November 2012.The demonstraion will be held at Indira Gandhi Stadium on 03/11/2012 Saturday.
A group of six members from Aikikai Hombu Dojo will represent Aikido headed by Shihan Yoshiaki Yokota Sensei,7th Dan.
Yokota sensei has agreed to conduct a seminar in our dojo at Thyagraj Stadium in the evening of 2nd November 2012, where other five senior Aikidokas from Hombu will assist him.
Kindly make your plan well in advance to attend the seminar and the demonstration.Thanking you.

With Regards,
Paritos kar Dojo Cho,New Delhi Aikido

New Address for New Delhi Dojo


New Delhi Dojo has moved.

Our new addresses are:

For Morning Classes:

Reinforced Earth India Private Limited

B-1 Extension, E-11, Mathura Rd, Mohan Cooperative Industrial Estate, New Delhi, Delhi 110044

011 4645 7600

For Evening Classes:

Thyagaraj Sports Complex.Shri Ganganath Road

Paritos Kar

Dojo Cho