Aikido is a Japanese Art of Self Defense, which is based on blending and harmonizing with the aggressor’s energies. The Art of Aikido was developed during the first half of the twentieth century, by Morihei Ueshiba (or O-Sensei), and it is based on the refinement and revision of traditional Japanese martial arts. In this tradition, Aikido is not a competitive endeavor, and the only possible victory one can accomplish is victory over one's self, or Masakatsu-Agatsu.
The literal definition of Ai-Di-Do means:
Way of, or Art of – DO, which is represented with the Kanji:
Blending or harmonizing – Ai, which is represented with the Kanji:
Energy – Ki, which is represented with the Kanji:
In order to blend effectively with the attacker’s energies, the movements in Aikido are soft and circular. These movements make effective use of the power that naturally exists in bodily movements, and of understanding the relationship between uke (attacker) and nage (defender/harmonizer). Instead of trying to overcome the attach with brutal force, or competing with the attacker over dexterity and speed, or becoming the aggressor, the Art of Aikido is based on blending with the attack and with the intention is materializes, and so powerful attacks are neutralized effortlessly.
The body work (tai-sabaki) in aikido is based on four fundamental principles of Unification of Mind and Body.
First, the origin of any and every body movement is from the center of the body, called the “One Point” (or Seika-no-Itten). This point is the center of the body’s Ki, the body’s Hara, and is also positioned in the center of the body’s gravity center. All the energy leaves the body from this point and enters the body into this point. The One Point is located an inch or two beneath the navel.
Second, free flow of Ki. The Aikido practice seeks to open the bodily channels through which Ki can flow freely and powerfully. Every thing in the universe has existential energy or Ki, and a health body has plenty of Ki. In the practice we seek to enhance and to cultivate one’s energies, in order to employ is effectively and to the benefit of our partners.
Third, in order to move and to act smoothly and effectively, our muscles must be relaxed to a certain degree. In a tense body, or in a body where there’s no knowledge or control of the different tensions in the different organs and limbs, movements are inaccurate and relatively slow. Under conditions of tension muscles close up, and the possibility of achieving Mind and Body coordination, and with it the materialization of the body’s Ki, are seriously restricted. Aikido practitioners learn how to relax their bodies—mainly through correct breathing and through breathing exercises or Misogi.
Fourth, since on Earth gravity is working constantly, the forth principle concerns acknowledging the natural and pervasive power of gravity, in order to preserve and/or undermine the body’s balance. This is the principle of stability of, as we sometimes call it, the principle of “weight underside”. During practice, it is easy to witness how practitioners of the art (aikidoka) can control their weight: one minute they are light and easy movable, and the other they extremely “heavy,” and cannot be moved at all.
The successful application of these four Aikido principles of Mind and Body Unification, allow the body to function in an effective, healthy and pleasurable way, in order to blend and harmonize with the surrounding. Blending with aggressive energies achieves, at its highest level, the denial of the attack itself. During routine practice, blending with the attack is made possible first and foremost by stepping off the line of the attack, or sometimes, by deflecting the line of energy. The basic exercises we practice in order to achieve this aim are mostly circular motions (tenkan), which allow one to exit the line of attack and have the attacker under control (hito-ashi-yokete). Only one blending has been achieved, can one proceed effortlessly to lead control and neutralize the aggression. The energy of the aggressor(s), can then be lead into a throw, a fall, or an immobilization.