How is Aikido a non-violent way in a conflict?
Patrick Low, Shodan Roban, 1 July 2017
The First Start
My journey in Aikido started in Malaysia at the KL YMCA Aikido Club, one of the oldest dojos in Malaysia led by Raymond Sensei. We practiced some pretty hard aikido there and I felt that it was quite martial arty.
I migrated to Melbourne and was introduced to Robert Boterill Sensei of Aikikai Australia in his Glen Waverley dojo.
I trained there for a while but I had to stop my training when we had a baby and I was also trying to find my place in Australia. This was the intermission in my training until my daughter expressed an interest in continuing Aikido. Natalie had trained at the KL YMCA children’s class and because of her interest, I started looking for a local dojo when I saw an advert in the local Leader newspaper on Aikido classes in Mitcham.
The Second Start
I called Steve Sensei to enquire and make an appointment to go for the class. Maurice and Julie were there and with Natalie and me, that made 4.
I did not mention to Steve Sensei of my pervious kyu grade as I wanted Natalie to feel that we were doing it together.
I discovered that this was a much softer training and Steve Sensei wasn’t half as hard as what I was used to in Malaysia.
Now I’m spoiled.
The Ah Ha Moment
I have discovered so much in so short a time.
I have discovered that you don’t need strength to do aikido.
I have discovered that softer is better and is actually more effective and we can actually connect with our uke.
Bob Nadeau Shihan has shown me another level of energy and the ability to tap from it, which I never knew existed; the receptive – positive; the setting up of our base and preparing the body and am still trying to catch-up and understand some of what Bob Shihan has said.
I have had a wonderful ‘ah ha’ moment when I discovered from Henry Sensei that the pins and locks were actually energy flow and because it’s energy, we can actually short circuit it.
I have learnt from Danny Sensei the difference centring makes and our posture and the softer side of aikido that is even softer then what we do in Mitcham.
Steve Sensei has opened up a whole new world of aikido to me and of “slowing down” the uke when they come in instead of matching them; the use of Ju Tai (soft force) and Bu Tai (flowing force) in our Aikido instead of just Ko Tai (the hard force).
These are the most influential people in my Aikido Journey and I have learnt so much from them but the person that has made it all happen and helped me and given so much of his time and energy is Steve Sensei. Without Steve Sensei, I would not have had these opportunities; I would not have been able to go to the Friendship camps, learnt from them, meet all the wonderful people in Riai and be able to practice aiki in my life.
Aikido to me is like water.
It’s soft and it is all encompassing but it is also hard and strong.
It bends without breaking; it moves around and envelops our uke and they, in turn are taken up in it.
It cleanses the body and its surroundings.
But hit it and you will find that it is hard as a rock. Crash into it and it is known to even take off the car bumper. Even using a little aikido in our lives can be like a drop of water, which after time cracks even the biggest rock.
And as water, when aikido is used correctly; our opponent is never harmed.
My Aikido has evolved so much since I started and with the group in Riai led by Henry Sensei, Aikido has made a big difference in me.
In the beginning, I never understood how a martial art can be an Art of Peace but the more I delve into it; the more it makes sense that AIKIDO is “The Art of Peace” and I look forward to years more of ‘O’ Sensei’s: “Non-violent way to victory in a conflict.”