Aikido — the Art of Peace

Ai-Ki-Do

What is the Literal Meaning of Aikido?

Ai-Ki-Do

The Japanese word Aikido consists of three characters. The first two kanji characters that comprise the word aiki or ai, mean “to come together, to blend, to join,” while ki refers to “life

force” or “spirit.” Do, the third character in the word, means “Path” or “Way”. Thus Aikido can be translated as “the way of unity with the fundamental force of the universe”.

  What is Aikido?

Aikido

Aikido is a true Budo, or a “Martial Way.” It has evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts. Since Aikido’s movements and techniques arise from the most efficient utilization of the entire person, the practitioner, regardless of physical strength, can develop great power. Instead of an emphasis on punches or kicks against opponents, Aikido uses the energy of their attacks to throw or gain control of them. Rather than being a static martial art, there is a great emphasis on circular movement around a stable, dynamic center.

Aikido Practice

Aikido is a unique, contemporary Japanese martial art. While it is an effective form of self-defense, based on decades of applied technical research and practice, Aikido can also nurture the inner strength and spiritual side of an individual-the body, mind and spirit. Practice encompasses a broad range of training styles, and allows people to train based on their individual stage of development. People from all walks of life practice Aikido: men, women, the elderly, children, business people, students, athletes, professional dancers, and practitioners of other martial arts. Even physically handicapped people have practiced Aikido and benefited from it.

History

O'Sensei

The Japanese word Aikido Morihei Ueshiba introduced Aikido in Japan in

the early twentieth century, by synthesizing and transforming several traditional Japanese fighting arts. From an early age, Morihei Ueshiba, known to millions of Aikido practitioners as O-Sensei (or Great Teacher), was an extraordinary martial artist, a master of the sword, staff and Ju-Jitsu. Yet O-Sensei was a deeply spiritual man, and troubled by the futility of a path based solely on victory over others. He desired a system that could enrich and empower individuals in their daily life, where a person could ultimately achieve success through a development of power, calmness, and confidence. O-Sensei’s Aikido came from this spiritual desire to promote peace in society, through the development of harmony in thought, word and action.

Because of O-Sensei’s teachings and the efforts of many dedicated teachers and students, Aikido has become increasingly popular in many other parts of the world outside of Japan. Today it is practiced in places like the United States, South America, Europe, South-East Asia and Russia.

Aikido Training and Health

Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Like any system of physical training, Aikido is good for one’s health. Regular

practice stretches the body, improves circulation and helps to coordinate one’s breathing with balanced, harmonious movement. Aikido practice and the meditative space of the Dojo can help to decrease and transform our day-to-day and nervous stresses. Furthermore, by stimulating both physical and mental faculties, Aikido encourages harmony in the whole being. It helps us manifest both our inner and outer beauty.

Aikido training works on many levels of each practitioner. Careful training with a partner allows one to train without injuries – it is a style of training that easily adapts to the needs of each person. This combination of physical and intellectual exercise benefits all, regardless of age, gender, race, or religion.

Aikido and Healing Arts

Traditional Asian medicine often promotes a “hands-on” approach to healing. So while the locks and pins in Aikido are designed to immobilize an opponent, they also stimulate the joints and serve as a vigorous form of massage. Aikido is a healing art. Perhaps its greatest value is as a system that promotes good physical and mental health. We all, at some point, must face up to illness, aging, death and the loss of loved ones. While Aikido practice does not guarantee freedom from physical and psychological ailments, it can help us accept the challenge, root out its source, work with it, and not accept defeat.

Medicine for a Sick World

Aikido is medicine for a sick world. O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba – the founder of Aikido – once wrote that evil and disorder exist in the world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. To cure the world of this sickness, he felt that we needed to return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, pretty desires, and anger – this is what he considered the path of aiki. As a result, in Aikido there are no competitions. There is no need for achievement based on artificial standards. Each trains according to their capability. The struggle is ultimately with oneself, on one’s own path of Aikido.

“While Sensei’s Away…”

On 4th May 2006 the Dojo Head Paritos Kar Sensei left for Tokyo, Japan, to train in the Hombu Dojo.

Manisha writes:

A fortnight’s over, a month-and-a-half more to go and we miss him already. That’s how long it will take for Paritos Sensei to return from his two-month long trip to Tokyo, Japan.

Of course, Sensei was as excited about his leaving, as we were not! The reason for his excitement – he intended to practice four sessions per day at the Aikiki Hombu dojo, each session being an hour long. But a recent email mentioned five sessions!!

And while Sensei’s away, everyone, but everyone, is trying his / her best to keep things running as smoothly as possible. The evening classes are being taken alternately by blackbelts Ken, Jean and Taka. Hats-off to them. The morning classes are being taught by our dear Julia. She’s always there for us to fall back on, thank God.

Guess who else is putting in an effort by being more regular? Good ol’ Rana Dutta! (Poor Sensei tried so hard to make this happen in his presence.)

Well, all in all, if students are willing to go out of their way to take classes; if Rana is suddenly more regular; if Yulia and Manisha are trying to keep the dojo free of dust (and intruders) so that Sensei doesn’t faint when he returns, its all because of our love and respect for him. Its because we all know that he’s giving us so much more than we’re giving him, and its not just aikido I’m talking about. Thank you Sensei.

“A Wonderful Learning Environment”

[Our senior dojo member Kenneth Dekleva, a 3rd Dan Black Belt trained under Sensei Bill Sosa, Texas, USA, left New Delhi on 17.05.2006. Below is his letter to us.]

I wanted to share with you and your fellow students how much I have enjoyed training with you in Sensei Kar’s dojo. I felt welcome and I appreciated the strong spirit therein and the good ki extended to me and to each other.

It made for a wonderful learning environment in which to further our knowledge in this beautiful martial art of aikido.

My Sensei – the late Bill Sosa – always told me that we all have an obligation to develop the art of aikido, and to build upon it and make it real and alive. Aikido is a brotherhood and it is also budo. We have an obligation to each other as well as to the martial traditions that O-Sensei left us.

In this light I was also honored to be able to share with you and your dojo training partners some of the practical, ‘street’ aikido techniques bequeathed to me by Sensei Bill Sosa and his son Sensei Ricardo Sosa.

I depart India with wistful feelings, but with joy at having had the opportunity to get to train with you, Sensei Kar, and the other students.

Ken

“Aikido — a physical discipline with a strong spiritual foundation…”

My name is Alan Nykamp. I am currently staying at a spiritual community Gobind Sadan (The House of God without Walls) and learning a great deal about the truths of all religions and their practical applications in life from my great teacher His Holiness Baba Virsa Singh Ji. I am originally from Michigan, U.S.A.

I decided to take Aikido because it was a physical discipline with a strong spiritual foundation. I was looking for a physical activity, which would also compliment my spiritual endeavor, and Aikido was the perfect match.

I have not practiced any other martial arts regularly before, but I did play college football. When I was younger I also played baseball and loved weightlifting. I also practiced to become a professional wrestler for about 6 months, before I decided it wasn’t for me.

I have been practicing Aikido for roughly 3 months now. I believe I started sometime in May, 2005.

Since practicing Aikido I have a strong sense of well-being and confidence, which allows me to be more open and receptive with people. Also, on a physical level I have lost about 10 kgs and have much more energy than before. Although, we work hard during our training, at the end of the class I feel charged with a great deal of positive energy.

Alan Nykamp
(July’ 2005)

My Most Memorable Aikido Experience

I encountered the word aikido on 1992 while going through a movie review of Steven Seagal. Then eventually I saw the movie and made up my mind if there is anything I want to learn that is AIKIDO.

I am one of those lucky ones practicing aikido since the dawn of aikido in India. My first teacher was Sylvie Wiedmann. But meeting Sensei Paritos Kar is the most memorable aikido experience.

It was a Monday evening when I first met Sensei Kar. Although I trained with people physically stronger then me and European masters naturally of bigger built. May be that could be the reason I never realized the true essence of aikido and the power of big circular movements. After a brief conversation I felt that I am with someone who really understand a student’s mind and who can impart the knowledge. He is not only an Indian who lived and practiced in Japan under some very renowned masters. He is also an excellent human being full of humor and has this amazing capability to laugh under any circumstances. In one word, a true aikidoka with one intention to spread aikido and O-Sensei’s message of peace.

Rana Dutta
(July’ 2005)