Meaning of Aikido
The question has been asked many times. It has also probably been answered many times. The problem seems to be that no answer is ever the same.
There are certainly common themes in all the answers and if anyone was asked to explain what aikido is they would probably echo something like
one of the most effective yet graceful of the martial arts, the theory of sphericity of movement and its application in neutralizing and redirecting the force of an opponent’s attack
The above statement certainly provides a surface level explanation of Aikido, but the fact is that just below that is an art of tremendous scope that can mean vastly different things to different people. What each person gets from Aikido is completely unique.
Considering this, brings us back to what Aikido means to me. What I feel is unique about the art and my relationship with Aikido. The overriding sense is that it has been a reliable, consistent and freeing part of my life which has helped me maintain a sense of myself and calm head amid the world of chaos. It also has the power to keep me engaged and keep the motivation for regular training, despite the continuing attempts at life in trying to disrupt my relationship with Aikido. I somehow have always been pulled back to it.
My relationship with Aikido started back in the UK in the year 2000. I was looking to start a martial art and Aikido presented something unique for me; in the sense that it seemed more than merely punching and kicking. It seemed an art that I could adapt to and grow with. An art which had depth and substance. Now in the year 2014, I can certainly say that I have found that Aikido possess all of these things and much more.
My view is that Aikido, and how it is interpreted, is fluid and its implementation can change not only from school to school, but also from person to person. In my own experience this fluidity has also been continually present within my own training. I have found my focus and that of others can change not only over the weeks, months and years of training, but sometimes even during one session. The focus and understanding changes and evolves, one session it may lean towards the understanding and grasping the mechanics of the many different techniques, whereas on another it could be on improving and understanding your own balance and grounding. At other times it may concentrate on the importance of flow and how to use and redirect the attackers power and energy against them. At certain time, particularly during camps, it can be about exploring the idea of being aware of your surroundings and the possibility that energy fields surround us, penetrate us and binds us together, and that these fields can be tap into. Conversely at other times the only thought maybe about the next roll and surviving the training session.
I believe that Aikido are all these things and probably many more. It has so many levels that you never stop learning and every new person you train with gives the opportunity to learn something new. Aikido could be considered as organic as it grows with you and always seems to have more to offer.
This continual development is probably the main reason for the pull Aikido has maintain since I started in the UK back in 2000. It has endured through moving to the other side of the world, house moves, jobs changes and starting a family and all the happy and difficult times that come with life. Aikido, and in particular Riai Aikido Learning Centre, has been constant in allowing me to grow and learn with it and I believe that the journey of understanding and learning the art has only just begun.
Finally I would just like to say thank you to all the people who I have trained with and who have helped me with all my training so far. A special thanks to Henry Sensei and Danny Sensei of Riai Aikido Learning Centre for all their teaching, help and guidance.
Roban for shodan grading
13 December 2014