Find your own Aikido

There are many paths to the top of the mountain.image

We are drawn to study Aikido for many reasons. A lot of people that study Aikido love the philosophical area of the art. Some are drawn to the founder’s teachings and beliefs on unity and world peace. Others still again believe in Aikido as a martial art and train the battle field techniques closely related to jujitsu. Others again are drawn to the health benefits that regular exercise and deep breathing and stretching the body give to a balanced lifestyle.

None of these reasons taken in the context of that reason, and promoted as such is a wrong path. But promoting yourself as a martial art and then presenting your teaching as a wellness/lifestyle system is misleading and dishonest. If you teach martial arts or budo, and promote yourself as such, then be what you teach. If you promote lifestyle spirituality and health benefits then be what you teach. But don’t confuse the two.

One can contain elements of the other, that is the paradox of the study of Budo, that it can lead to spiritual realisation. There are many examples of this, including the life of the founder of Aikido. But it doesn’t work the other way around. If you spend a lifetime focusing on just the health, peace and harmony dimension, you will not have created within the body the physical attributes that are necessary for survival in battle. Sure the mind may be serene, and perhaps the spirit ready for death, but the physical body will not be tempered for the heat of the forge that real confrontation needs.

One of the great things about Aikido is that there is a school for everyone.image
In our school, our teacher encourages us to rediscover the teachings of the founder of Aikido through physical practice. The words Tanren and Misogi Harai are supposed to be the defining philosophical attributes in dojo that follow our way. This is daily training, both in technique and in ukemi. One is encouraged in this way to discover for themselves their own Aikido.

A teacher can only point the way. A student, free of preconceived ideologies is encouraged to overcome the fears and anxiety that have clouded their spirit since childhood, making the dojo quite literally a place of rebirth and growth.

Spiritual conditioning through physical conditioning.

The dojo is not a place for long winded spiritual discourse. It is not a place for blowing your own trumpet, pushing misconstrued pseudo Japanese/westernised philosophical dogma, nor a place for selling snake oil. It is a place to study the way.

To work it out by working out…….

Through the process of training in this way, perhaps we will come to a realisation that to find my own aikido is not just about a path to find technique, but rather the journey to discover the true self.

Aikido can be the vehicle for this self discovery, if we surrender our ego to the process. This is the founders definition of love devoid of ego. True love is not a specific man made emotion. True love, universal love is unconditional. This love is about discovering for yourself your purpose in this world. Once this self discovery takes place, we have achieved our goal as a human being. To do this is truly love unconditional, as we begin to live our life not as our ego intended, but as the universe intended.

Overcoming the self, letting go of the self and discovering the self.

Find your own Aikido, and in finding your own aikido you will find the love, peace and harmony that the founder intended. image

“The journey to the true self, is merely the reawakening of the knowledge of where you are always, of what you are forever.

It is a journey without distance, to a goal that has never changed..”


Intelligent intelligence………


Find a sword.
Within its principles lie all principles of aikido

What is intellectual aikido?
Intellectual aikido is aikido that is practiced without understanding principles hidden in form of the technique. It is aikido that seeks to mimic the aikido techniques of others without understanding the basic principles that underlie the technique. Defining movement and sounding like you know what you are doing vs really understanding the essence of the art.

What is true aikido?
Aikido form starts at the basic level – the sole of the foot connected to the (mother) earth and the connection through the body to energy of heaven. The central axis of the body becomes the conduit of that energy. The energy originates at the sole of the foot, is driven by the legs and amplified by the hara. It is then directed by the mind to the kensen which is the movement of the technique.
The integrity of the structure and the connection needs to be maintained in dynamic movement. If the integrity is lost the aikido is lost. This often occurs when the practitioner thinks about the way the movement should look rather than concentrating on the basic form of the technique. In other words tries to intellectualise the technique. Watching the techniques of the masters of aikido will not allow mastery of the technique through osmosis. Seeking the basic principles underlying the techniques and adopting those basics will contribute toward learning a technique. When it doesn’t work, it’s not time to change technique, but time to change principle. Doing something stupid over and over again only makes it something stupid done well.

When doing technique we should feel the earth/heaven connection. Our basic sword cutting principles and good body structure should be natural body movement from the internalisation of corrected repeated practice. This is known as unconscious competence – after a lot of practice of a skill so it becomes “second nature” and can be performed easily. The skill can be performed while executing another task. There is little if any intellect involved. The intuitive body takes over.

Where the mind attaches the mind goes.image

To allow the body to “take over” we must stop any intellectual process. We must have “no mind”. You cannot intellectualise any budo where the highest value is the absence of intellect.(mushin) The great men of old were great because they followed this training method. The spirit does not grow through the intellect, but through detachment from it.

Become less attached to titles and fancy talking and more attached to the essence of training the spirit.

If aikido becomes easy it loses its spiritual value. It’s through the difficulty that one discovers the true self. It’s through overcoming and constant self reflection we grow.
Intellectualising spirituality is absurd. No great spiritual master claims to have advanced the self through the intellect, but rather through detachment from it.

Again the question needs to be asked what it is people hope to get from their art?

If it’s the founders Aikido, then the path is Tanren, and training is Misogi Harai. This is well documented by those that trained with and understood the masters wishes.

The path back to the true teaching must start in the heart. Masakatsu agatsu, victory Over the ego, over the intellect, over preconceived ideology is the first step. This is Tanren, tempering the spirit through the body, breaking the intellect. Misogi Harai is brushing away the dust that dulls the mirror of the soul, this is ukemi.

Once this is understood, one can achieve Katsu Hayahi, speed that transcends space and time.

Mushin, the path beyond intellectual thought.

The study of true budo is at a dire time. What came of the ancient ways is about to get lost to the progress of human intellect. Many say a shift is needed for what we study to remain relevant to this modern world. I would say we need to walk in the opposite direction to discover what created great men of renown of the past. Their virtue, morals, spirit and courage is exactly what this world needs to remember.

For greater perspective on this matter please read The Truth of The Ancient Ways by Anatoly Anshin, it is the greatest book I have read on perspective in this matter by a man of learning, not a warrior.
The are no second alternatives, one chance one life.image