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Aikido is the Way of Harmony. Most people look at Aikido as a method of self defense but fail to look at it's deeper spiritual significance. I would like to bring more awareness to this aspect of the art because it is not just a martial art but a whole system of living and coexisting with nature and humanity.
Aikido is not a religion yet it encompasses many aspects of religious thought. O Sensei once said, "To practice properly Aikido, you must: Calm the spirit and return to the source. Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire." Regardless of your religious heritage these are concepts that will not only make our Aikido practice better but will enhance the whole of our lives. How many people would like to calm the spirit? Just about everyone I can think of.
Calming the spirit is peace. How do we get peace? This is where Aikido comes in. If we don't have peace what do we have? Conflict of some sort. A resistance to what is. A struggle against that which we do not desire at the moment. What does Aikido teach us from the very beginning? It teaches that by struggling against those who mean us harm we create a barrier to the energy or chi (or prana to those who are familiar with Hinduism) that flows through all things. In many cases that barrier or blocked energy can destroy us. This concept doesn't have to only apply to self defense situations. If we struggle against people or situations and we cannot accept what is we also block that universal energy and can destroy ourselves and others.
To avoid this we have to absorb our opponent's energy and redirect the flow. Aikido has taught me to better see things from the perspective of the other person. I can see the way their mind is moving, not just their body. If it's criticism or anger or some other negative emotion or situation that comes across my daily path I can see it for what it is...just energy. I can admit that they may have a point and validate their feelings (absorb the energy) and then calmly point out another way of seeing the problem (redirect the flow into an area where there can be harmony), or I could just do Kotegaeshi and slam them on the mat...BAM!!...just kidding.
While Aikido is not a religion, it offers us many useful lessons for dealing with life, even if we never face a real life attacker. Let's hope we never ever have to face one.
"A true warrior is always armed with three things: the radiant sword of pacification; the mirror of bravery, wisdom, and friendship; and the precious jewel of enlightenment. Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. Aikido is invincible because it contends with nothing." ~ Morihei Ueshiba