Aikido Circles

Aikido Circles

Margaret Wallach, Nidan Roban, 4th December 2010

I have always been fascinated by the circles in aikido and love the flow and circular movements in the techniques. To me these movements are designed on the principles of nature and the universe that move in circles and spirals through time and space creating their own dimensions.
O Sensei taught that Ki flows into the body in a great spiral, drawing on the power of the universe.
‘Your mind should be in harmony with the functioning of the universe; your body should be in tune with the movement of the universe; body and mind should be bound as one, unified with the activity of the universe.’
In his book,’Going for a Walk in the World,’ Shihan Ralph Pettman writes;
‘Ueshiba saw himself synchronising his movements with those of the universe. Because he felt himself to be part of the cosmic energy flow there were no surprises in the space and time in which he moved. He never looked out of step. His movements were deliberate. They were also in harmony with those of his opponents. They never had a chance.’
In Aikido we use circles for protection, blending and controlling. Moving in a circular motion will take you out of harm’s way of an attack to a safe distance from your attacker. From this safe position you are then able to move in and deal with your opponent. When uke attacks with a yokomen strike, coming at you in a flowing circular movement, you counteract by blending and moving also in a circle. In mirroring uke’s movement and making a connection with their centre you can then control uke.
The key to making circles work is connection between your centre and uke’s centre. Circular movement will not affect uke if connection is absent. There are times when the energy being given from uke demands a larger circle for redirection and other times a small circle will do. As with everything in aikido it comes back to a balance of things. If we get hung up on “only small” or “only large” then we hamper our ability to flow with the energy at hand. The important element is the connection within the circle which is necessary for keeping uke’s balance and maintaining control once connection has been established.
My favourite aikido techniques are the flowing circular ones in which you connect with uke, and move in to sweep up the energy coming at you, along with all the other energies you can gather up from the universe. Absorb them all, for energy is all around you empowering you. From this position of strength you can then make your move.
Off the mat our lives move in ever renewing circles going round and round; we may think it’s the ‘same old, same old – ground hog day’ at times. But within the circles of life there is constant renewal, revitalisation and growth. Everything in existence participates in this great cycle, including Earth itself. Albert Einstein indirectly spoke of it when he said that energy cannot be created or destroyed; it merely changes form.
In Aikido we are part of this great cycle and in our movements and techniques we create and recreate the circles of life.
We are all connected in the circles of our training.
We are all in harmony in our circles of our friendship.
We are all one with our lives in the great circles of the universe.