|Shihan Rick Stickles|
Aikido is first and foremost a martial art. In Japanese, the traditional term is "Budo," which means "the warrior's way." Aikido was developed during the 1920's by its founder, Master Morihei Ueshiba . Although primarily a martial medium, the purpose of Aikido training is to transcend the self-defense techniques and move into the realm of body, mind, and spirit unification. The powerfully effective martial movements are not based on pitting one's strength against another's but seek to resolve conflict by harmonizing with an opponent's energy, neutralizing the attack without inflicting injury. Its ultimate goal is the peaceful resolution of conflict in all forms. Aikido practitioners embody these principles, take them beyond the dojo (training hall), and apply them to all their personal affairs.
Aikido is an extremely effective means of self-defense. Its hand-to-hand technical roots lie in the cutting motion of the sword (kenjitsu) and the locking motions of ju-jitsu.
A stable, triangular structure is established. With circular movements, an Aikido practitioner blends and harmonizes with an attack (musubi), redirects the flow of the oncoming force, and neutralizes it with a projection (throw) or an immobilization (lock). Its defensive techniques are based in offensive theory, so a more aggressive approach to a dangerous situation is always an option.
An Aikido class is a great workout. You move at your own pace and challenge yourself on many physical levels. Its circular, flowing movements are fun and easy to perform, improving core strength and joint flexibility. Interval training methodology make it a superior cardiovascular activity that burns fat without sacrificing muscle and uses the muscular and skeletal systems in a natural and logical way. Both solo and partner exercises are performed in each class. Aikido is a terrific way to get in shape, lose weight and reduce stress.
Most long-term practitioners (and many beginners as well) use the principles of Aikido for personal growth and spiritual development. The practical and powerful self-defense techniques serve as a springboard for a deeper understanding of human nature.
"Bushin" is a Japanese term that translates as "the spirit-mind of stopping the sword." The first part of the phrase, "Bu", means "a way to put an end to contentious swords," and the second part, "shin," means "the mind and spirit which are one". While warrior arts (Budo) of the past have translated "Bushin" as "warrior spirit," the essence of the phrase has evolved away from a mere warrior into a person seeking a Method of Natural Harmony and Right Livelihood. The method of Aikido promotes this concept as a primary philosophy.
In the context of Aikido, Ueshiba Sensei called this condition "Takemusu Aiki." This is when the practitioner transcends technique and moves into pure awareness. In meditation arts this enlightened state is called "satori" (Japanese) or "rigpa" (Tibetan). It is the ultimate goal of Aikido practice.