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aikido. the perfect style?


okay, so i promised you guys some hot aikido action, so here we go. enjoy...

aikido is what's known as a 'soft style'. soft as opposed to a hard style like

karate, tae kwon do, or kickboxing, to name a few. there's probably a few soft

styles you're already familiar with, but maybe just didn't know what they were

called. soft styles include jui-jutsu, tai chi, and chi kung (qi gong).

the ideas behind aikido can best be understood by thinking about an opponent

facing you. okay, let's say he tries to punch you. a typical karate defense

would involve blocking the advance forcefully, with a powerful strike of your


by comparison, a typical aikido strategy would be to apply your counter in a

curving arc that blends with the attacker's momentum, changing the direction of


since it's easier to change the trajectory of an object in motion than it is to

stop a moving object. the physics are sound.

once you can take control of your opponent's movements, you can direct him or

her into a 'circuit of neutralization', which is basically a joint lock. or

you can simply let go (in which case he or she will simply careen off in

whatever direction their movement is carrying them).

aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) after a rough childhood.

his father was beaten, for political reasons. o-sensei, as aikidoka (

practicioners of aikido) call him, witnessed this as a boy.

he decided then that he wanted to be strong enough to protect himself, and to

take revenge on his father's enemies. he began to study martial arts (various

forms of jujitsu, among other things, as well as fencing, staff, and possibly

spear techniques).

somewhere along the way, o-sensei also began to get into several philosophical

and religious ideologies. slowly, his desire for revenge got lost in his

obsession with perfecting his new art.

literally, aikido translates as harmony (ai), energy (ki--also qi or chi), and

the way (do). i've also heard it interpreted as 'the way of unity with the

fundamental force of the universe,' and 'the art of peace'.

aikido differs from most other styles in that it has very few direct attacks.

some schools don't teach _any_. instead, aikidoka are encouraged to develop a

strong sense of their centre. aikido techniques are non-resistant, fluid, and

utterly davastating.

aikido works smarter, not harder, in the respect that it's a lot easier (from a

physics standpoint) to control the motions of others while allowing their own

momentum to move them, than it is to try and physically control their body

position and movement through your own strength.

maintaining such a conscious mentality of the centre also helps to sustain a

central awareness, lending aikido's usefulness in a multi-opponent situation.

simply by rerouting attacks away from their original direction, a skilled

aikidoka can control the fight, essentially controlling the order of attacks.

bodies out of control (but in the control of the aikidoka) can collide, causing

further disadvantage to the attacking party.

in a one on one environment, fierce joint locks, known as circuits of

neutralization' can be applied from virtually any angle. performed properly,

the techniques cause no permanent, serious harm. after all, if one can control

all the attacks of his enemy, and subdue him when necessary, what's the point

of physically harming him? to do so would be irresponsible.

but control is essential in aikido. it is a very dynamic, fluid art. just a

minor mistake could cause irreversible damage to an opponent. aikido, like

anything, takes an enormous amount of practice. the techniques have to become

first nature--automatic.

aikido helps you to expand and hone your senses, your _awareness_. it also

develops kinaesthetics (the ability to control your motor skills based on

tactile response) to a very high degree. and, like any other skillset which

requires much practice, the hours spent and all the hardships endured helps to

create a sense of confidence and build character.


let me just take a moment to talk about ki (also qi and chi), often described

as internal power. many people disagree as to what ki actually _is_. some say

it is a fundamental force of the universe (use the force, luke?) flowing

through everything, some think of it more as a state or condition of events,

the right thing, if you will. some circles of science refer to ki as kinetic

linking. i've even heard it called 'soul'.

personally, my beliefs lean more toward the right thing (for more about 'the

right thing' read up on the mit tmrc hackers in the '60's) ideology. athletes

call it the 'zone'. zen masters call it 'no mind'.

ki is that perfect way of doing something (anything) that works just right,

just being 'on-point'. and aikido only works when energized with ki.

the techniques require you to be loose and fluid, yet still controlled, not

haphazard. that's again why kinaesthetics take such a big role.

aikido is a very recent art, in the scheme of things, but it is basically the

culmination of centuries worth of japanese martial knowledge, and in japan, is

treated as such. here in the states, however, it has not received the

attention of many traditional styles, therefore it may be difficult for you to

find a school that teaches aikido, but there are plenty of good books out

there, some good resources on the web, and i'll warrant some like-minded

individuals in your neighborhood, just use your head about it.

i'll be posting more when i can (actually, this is a rewrite--my first copy got

wiped out, so this one may not be complete) but rest assured, this won't be the

last. in the mean time, here's a short list of online resources...

have fun....

aikido wiki
aikido online
aikido today magazine

more as it develops. aikido may not be the perfect style, but it's pretty close...


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

your aikido is no match for my kung fu. tiger style. whaahhhh!!