Aikido is a highly refined martial art, developed in the last century as a means of self-defence and spiritual training. Aikido develops coordination of mind and body. Through its philosophy and techniques, Aikido brings us in harmony with our environment, other people and ourselves. Unlike many martial arts aikido requires no advantage in strength or speed, and is practised successfully by people of all ages and abilities. Aikido practice develops flexibility, coordination, concentration, improved health and fitness, effective communication skills and self-esteem.
Central to Aikido is the idea of being in harmony with your opponents, rather than in conflict with them. The movement and energy of an attack is redirected without the need for collision or the use of force. The physical practice of this fundamental principle of Aikido leads to a better understanding of people and nature, while teaching the essential skills for the resolution of conflict. The movements of Aikido are circular and flowing. They are designed on the principles of nature and move in circles and spirals. When Aikido is performed well there is great beauty and composure in the movements of both partners.
The Aikido dojo (meaning ‘place of The Way’) provides a secure and friendly environment where we can begin to see and understand our fears, anxieties, reactions and habits. Aikido training is entirely non-competitive and fosters a cooperative and supportive attitude. The concentration and discipline required for Aikido training brings focus to our daily lives. Aikido challenges us to improve our skills and attempt new things. By achieving these skills, we gain confidence in our ability to maintain stability whenever we encounter difficulty. The first thing you notice about someone is their attitude. If your attitude and thoughts are positive, your life reflects positive results.
Training in Aikido requires consistent and diligent practice. Although as a beginner you might train just once a week, you should be prepared to make a commitment to train at least two or three times a week if you want to make progress in the future. Sincere and dedicated practice is required to attain a state of being in which philosophy, technique, attitude and spirit merge. When there is no longer a distinction between daily life and the practice of Aikido we truly will be following the ‘Way of Harmony’.
The physical aspects of Aikido, as graceful and dynamic as they can be, are only the outward manifestation of what is, most importantly, a real and direct way to improve our quality of life.