- 1 Aikido
- 2 Beginnings And First Principles
- 3 The Laws Of Nature: Its Basis And Power
- 4 Gratitude
- 5 The Spirit Of Loving Protection For All Nature
- 6 Pain
- 7 Nature's Laws - Self-Discipline
- 8 Self-Improvement / Partner Improvement
- 9 Yin/Yang And Love
- 10 The Rational Of Nonresistance
- 11 Meditation In Aikido
- 12 Motto
Since ancient times, Jiu-Jitsu, Kenjitsu and Sumo have been practiced in Japan to such an extent that even little children have some knowledge about these arts. Together they were called the ancient Martial arts.
As conditions changed, Jiu-Jitsu and Kenjitsu became altered to suit the times and transformed into Judo and Kendo. Then from China came Kempo and from Okinawa, Karate. Each of these arts has its devotees and all are assiduously practiced. In the early 1900's the principles of Aikido were originated by its founder, Professor Morihei Ueshiba, who became known as "O'Sensei" (great teacher) by his students.
Beginnings And First Principles ∞
"A stream that does not have a clear source cannot have a clear outlet." He who would understand Aikido correctly and gain a correct knowledge of it, must pursue its fundamental truths and then build upon this base of truth. It should be emphasized at the beginning that merely to learn the art of Aikido does not mean that one can attain the exquisite skill that complete mastery brings.
The Laws Of Nature: Its Basis And Power ∞
Mankind affirms the omnipotence of nature. From such large bodies as the sun, moon and stars to such small objects as a tree, a blade of grass or a piece of wood, all are manifestations of Nature's power. We may call it God or Buddha or Eternal Truth, but men everywhere revere Nature's almighty power.
To learn nature's secret of power, we may turn to philosophy or religion in an effort to gain similar power for ourselves.
Science recognizes that Mother Nature jealously guards many secrets as yet undiscovered, and through research hopes to learn more and more. It is not strange that great scientists are often devout believers in a Divine Power.
Nature's power is so great, so strong, yet so close to us. Her truths are revealed to us even in the smallest event, such as the falling of a leaf from a shrub. Not even for a moment could we exist without the operation of Her laws. If the law of gravity ceased to work, our bodies would float weightlessly and we would die.
As a fish in water is not conscious of the element in which it lives, we receive the bounties of Nature and take things so much for granted that we become oblivious of Nature.
All truths are discovered by those whose eyes are opened to observe Mother Nature. All the cardinal points that govern our lives must emanate from our hearts' thankfulness to Her for Her great gifts to us.
The Martial Arts begin with gratitude. If there is an error at the important starting point, the Martial Arts can become dangerous to others and merely brutal fighting arts. Civilization then becomes a murderous weapon with which one nation threatens another.
Aikido strives truly to understand Nature, to be grateful for Her wonderful gifts to us, to make Her heart its heart, and to become one with Her. This striving for understanding and the practical application of the laws of Nature, is expressed in the words "ai" and "ki," from the fundamental concept of the art of Aikido. Indeed, it was the starting point of the Founder himself, and it is the reason that he was able to continue his studies to perfect the art he originated, well into his 80's.
The Spirit Of Loving Protection For All Nature ∞
The Bible says, "God is Love" - 1 John 4:8. The Buddha too preached mercy toward all living creatures. Yes, Nature is love; all creation expresses the spirit of loving protection. Not only toward human beings, but loving protection for all things down to each blade of grass, each shrub. It may be a nameless plant in an unfrequented locality but in its season it blossoms out of Nature's love poured upon that plant. In the cosmic scheme, all things receive Nature's blessing in equal measure. In return, all things must be equally grateful for these blessings.
Someone may argue that this is a cruel world; why do you call it a loving Nature when She can inflict so much pain?
That pain exists in the world is agreed, but even this is a manifestation of love. For without experiencing pain, we cannot appreciate comfort. Only as we suffer pain and discomfort can we understand ease and comfort. No matter how luxurious the comfort, if we lose our capacity to enjoy it, it is no longer comforting to us. No matter how delicious the food we eat, if we lose our sense of taste, the finest feast is wasted on us.
Nature's Laws - Self-Discipline ∞
If we break Nature's laws, we cannot attain success in any worthy endeavor. We shall some day pay the penalty for our sins. It is of prime importance then for each individual to discipline himself so that he receives Nature's blessings with gratitude and perceives the relative value of each blessing as it is received.
Professor Uyeshiba always said, "The martial arts are based on love." Those who heard this seemingly paradoxical statement received it with suspicion. One student asked, "How can you call it love when you are learning to throw a man, or hit him or give him pain?".
This student was looking at the form and not the spirit of Aikido, whose principles are nothing less than the principles of Nature. In practicing the Martial Arts, this spirit must always be held paramount in every act.
Self-Improvement / Partner Improvement ∞
You are not throwing your partner for mere personal satisfaction, nor are you throwing him merely for the sake of throwing him, or doing it by brute force. You are throwing him or being thrown by him all in accordance with Nature's Laws, and you are both improving and helping each other.
It is because you are following Nature's Laws that you are able to throw your partner. If you do not follow them, you will probably fail in your attempt to move him. The antagonists are not wary enemies fighting one another; each is a mirror in which he can see which one is right and which one is wrong. Together they serve as a whetstone for mutual self-improvement. He who seeks to improve his opponent polishes his own art and for this reason both owe each other thanks.
Yin/Yang And Love ∞
Whether throwing or being thrown, if there is some sense of displeasure in the act, it is time to observe if there has not been some unnatural strain somewhere, some violation of Nature's Laws. It will be time also to begin again from the beginning. To throw another without being thrown, working as one with your opponent, showing your obedience to Nature's Laws in every movement of your bodies, body and spirit invigorated by a magnanimous feeling one for the other, every act in the contest a manifestation of natural love - Aikido.
Those who watch the actual training methods are amazed that Aikido, unlike the traditional martial arts which seek to overawe the new converts with their prestige, strives to practice in earnest but joyfully and harmoniously in unreserved friendliness.
All this serves to prove that Aikido is one of the martial arts which obey the laws of Nature, and that the spirit and special characteristics spoken by Professor Uyeshiba, its founder, when he said, "The Martial Arts are based on Love" are given their finest proof by Aikido in practice.
The Rational Of Nonresistance ∞
Today's high degree of civilization is not an unmixed blessing because on the one hand it has contributed largely to man's happiness, and on the other hand, as is recognized by all, it has led man to the folly of conflict. Once war begins, all mankind will be exposed to the danger of annihilation.
We search for nature's truths: we discover them and by using their basic principles we realize the steady advancement of civilization. Yet perversely we abuse the blessings of Nature and plot our own destruction. It is largely because we allowed Nature's truths to guide us that we were able to make inventions and discoveries for our own betterment. Why then use them to destroy ourselves? The answer is, man's competitive world is their conflict. If we sincerely seek the secrets of Nature and strive to understand her, we must understand not only the little bits and pieces of truth but the fundamental principles of truth, and put the lessons we learn to practical use.
The spirit of universal love and nonresistance cannot bring on conflict. It is man who fights for the sake of fighting; man fights to win. The conflict breeds more conflict. More and more man alienates himself from Nature. He plants the seeds of his own destruction.
There is no one who does not desire peace. But too often this is a desire for a personal peace, limited to one's own immediate surroundings, a greedy, selfish desire, the desire of one who prays to win at all costs, of one who is constantly preparing for conflict.
He who seeks true peace must first understand and endeavor to cultivate the spirit of non-resistance. Simple suppression of one's fighting instinct merely postpones the day when it will violently burst forth.
As for one who habitually practices fighting, we know that he cannot control his spirit. To ask one like him to refrain from fighting is just a futile gesture. Only by practicing non-resistance can we inculcate within us the spirit of peace.
It is not easy to avoid conflict in a world such as ours where the survival of the fitter is the rule and the strong preys upon the weak. All around us are conflicts large and small, internal and external. Too many men spend too much of their time planning ways to surpass or overcome others. The polite and diffident ones must eat their competitor's dust. Those who surrender meekly without fighting are trampled upon. The martial practitioners train themselves to win at all cost. Considering all these factors, is it possible for one not to fight while all around him many others are fighting?
Aikido has the answer to this problem. Aikido is based on the laws of nature and believes that "The martial arts express love." That is why so much is made of the principles of non-resistance. Theory and practice thus go hand in hand in Aikido.
In Aikido, right is might. You are required only to perform your own mission in life - it is not necessary to think about surpassing or overcoming others. Nor is it necessary to prove that you are strong, because of greater importance is the question of whether you are right or wrong, whether or not you are following the laws.
All the Aikido arts are involved with the principles of non-resistance. A competitive spirit in you arouses a like spirit in your opponent. No matter how strong he may be, you do not oppose his strength with yours but lead him in the direction of his own strength and throw him. This is Aikido. As you practice Aikido you will discover for yourself how great a difference there can be in their application when your mind is governed by the spirit of non-resistance and when it is not.
The combative spirit is almost always accompanied by an uneasy state of mind. If a competitor equal in strength with you approaches and merely stands near you, your mind quakes with apprehension. If through your Aikido experience you understand the principles of non-resistance and have kept up your practice, your mind will be at peace.
Meditation In Aikido ∞
All new born babies utilize their abdomens and diaphragms for breathing during the first three months, and they gradually convert to rib or chest breathing as they mature. No one seems to understand the cause or reason for this transition. But the followers of Aikido, Zen, and Yoga believe that diaphragmatic breathing is the proper way man should breathe.
Deep or controlled breathing should not be confused with meditation. Deep breathing exercises which are getting more and more attention in the United States as a tonic to tension is not new. Singers have been applying it for years. The exercise begins by exhaling very slowly through the mouth. This exhalation is not like blowing a balloon, but instead like clearing your throat. Inhalation is through the nose very slowly. The passage of the air is up through the nose and down through the throat. One must feel a slight tension in the throat as the air is sucked in. There is a slight two or three-second pause after each exhalation and inhalation.
If you are a beginner, do the exercise at a count of eight for both exhaling and inhaling. As you progress the count can be increased to ten, twelve, fifteen, and so forth. In the beginning fifteen minutes a day is sufficient. Eventually as you become accustomed to this method of respiration, you can gradually extend your exercises. The best posture is sitting, but you can also do it lying or standing. Whatever position you select, remember to keep your back straight. If you are doing it properly, you will notice that only your abdomen is moving.
Meditation, as we practice it today, is normally lowering our heads, closing our eyes, and whispering thanks or forgiveness to the Almighty. In Zen, meditation is to sit motionlessly for hours with your eyes closed, legs crossed, and your mind in deep thought. In case you lose control of your thought you can always depend on immediate help from the Zen priest. He will tap your shoulder gently with wooden staff. This action is supposed to aid you to regain your thought and keep your mind from wandering.
There are various approaches to meditation. Each clairvoyant school has its own method of practicing them. Some arts like Yoga and Aikido apply profound concentration with controlled respiration (as described above). Although both seem to utilize the same method, their objectives in focusing their thoughts are widely apart. In Aikido the thought is always on the one point below the navel (Seika-no-itten). In Yoga the focus of concentration varies among the schools. One school may emphasize at a point on their foreheads; another may be on an image of a dead person - in an attempt to make contact; and still another, image of a place or person living in a remote area.
In Aikido, as you practice inhaling and exhaling, your mind or thought must continuously be centered at the one point. In the beginning your thought will tend to wander. You can help prevent this by putting a slight pressure at the point with your thumb. Although you will find it most favorable to meditate in a sitting position in an empty room, it can also be performed standing or walking.
Meditation calls for hard work and you must really self-discipline yourself if you are to succeed. Although you can learn to do it yourself, you will find it easier and more enjoyable to learn it in a group. By self-training you will have the tendency to procrastinate and shorten the exercise. In group participation this tendency is eliminated. A leader can be chosen. Each participant follows his command. As he claps his hands, everyone exhales; when he claps his hands again, everyone inhales. Naturally, the claps between breathing should be at a count of eight or more. As the participants become adapted to this way of meditation, the leader can extend his counts and prolong the exercises.
Our motto are begun by O'Sensei and articulated by Tohei Sensei is as follows:
Let us have a universal spirit that loves and protects all creation and helps all things grow and develop.
To unify mind and body and to become one with the universe is the ultimate purpose of my study.
Roy Y. Suenaka
President and Founder, American International Ki Development and Philosophical Society