My first contact with aikido was in 1991 when working in Canberra. My flatmate had joined the ANU Aikido Club (John Turnball Sensei) and would come home after class and use me as uke to practice techniques. I became intrigued by the various locks employed in aikido and how effectively they could immobilise someone with apparent ease.
This was a martial art that did not require physical strength or brawn – it was effortless – and I wanted to find out more. 28 years later I’m still on my Aikido Journey. I have spent the past 18 years at Riai Aikido Wellington with the last 5 years supporting Lyn Sensei with the teaching programme at Belmont Dojo.
Aikido can be challenging, puzzling, perplexing, mysterious as well as fun, interesting, joyful, energetic, dynamic, powerful, calming, and peaceful. These aspects can all be experienced within a one-hour class!
Contemporary Aikido is described as being the “Art of Peace, Love and Harmony” while still being described as an effective martial art. Certainly, we learn that the early forms of Aikido had a strong martial component (O-Sensei said, “75% of Aikido is atemi” (striking)). Equally important is the description of Aikido as a mind, body and spirit practice. O-Sensei described Aikido as a form of budo (Japanese martial ways) for training the spirit. It is up to the individual to explore what Aikido means to them. The answers will be as varied as Aikido can be.