View Full Version : What is Aikido?

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09-21-2004, 09:57 PM
Dear forum'ers,

I have been in the Yoshinkan style for umpteen years. I have been very comfortable with their teaching style, i.e., step by step, each technique broken down to its core and analyzed and reconnected.

Now that I am in my Dan grades, on many occasion I surprise my self, b'coz in randori, what I did is not aikido, well, not 'kata' type anyway. The funny thing is, instead of correcting me, my sensei encourages me to 'find' my aikido. Also, pls note I have never cross train with other type of MA. I find it very surprising that I can come out with some totally new stuff that is out of the standard Yoshinkan syllables.

Right now, i have feeling inside, it's nagging me. To describe it... it is like, I am at a threshold of understanding something deeper, which I still cannot comprehend. i do not know what is it that i will come to understand but my mind is busy searching for an answer. Right now, if pressed for a question... I will have to ask myself - What is my aikido?

However there is something I have come to understand, but i dare not comfirm it. I see that there is no style in MA. In this forum, there are many thread discussing what to do if Aikido vs ving Tsun, Aikido vs BJJ etc. My understanding conclude that how a person utilises MA is entirely situational, and the movement must be at its most economical, most natural and doesn't go against the natural personality of the practitioner.

I hope, I am making sense because I am myself not sure what question to ask. So as my title goes - What is aikido?. I hope to seek answer from those who may have experience similar thoughts as well those experience teachers to enlighten me.

Humbly yours,

Jeff Baldwin
09-21-2004, 10:17 PM
one of those things you need to answer for your self...which also looks like you have done in what you wrote. Let go of it.

David Yap
09-21-2004, 11:18 PM
one of those things you need to answer for your self...which also looks like you have done in what you wrote. Let go of it.

"Let go of it" - Totally agreed.

Attended the 9th IAF Training in Tokyo just more than a week ago. Okumura Shihan (9th Dan & in his 80's) gave us a lecture or rather he asked us (the attendees) "what is aikido?". He started by asking this question, "Can Aikido be in the Olympic Games?". Most attendees agreed that it cannot because of the non-competition nature of aikido. Okumura Shihan then discussed on the techniques used by MA sports (Judo & TKD) in the Olympic Games and the techniques of Aikido. Finally, he gave us a handout that quoted O Sensei's explanation of "What is aikido?". Interestingly, O Sensei's explanation was in response to the same questions posted by journalists to him many years ago.

If I can find the handout, I will reproduce them here.

From the lectures given by the senior Shihans, these are messages I received (others might received differently) and these were transmitted from O Sensei to them:

When one has muscular power, one may not require techniques.
When one has no muscular power (women & children especially), then one has to apply techniques.
Techniques (the details) are not important and not meant to be remembered.

IMO, the above reflects the path of form to no form.

Also interesting, of all the participants who attended the day trainings (techniques), only a hand of them attended the evening lectures that covered the spiritual side - the "do" part of Ai-Ki-Do which, IMHO, is the key of O Sensei's teaching



09-22-2004, 03:41 AM
The best definition I ever heard for Aikido was to focus all your power and all your energy at a single point at a single time. I've extrapolated that to be that every movement of every technique should (ideally) be with that idea of balance/power/energy in mind as you move through the series of points that make up the technique.

I've also been studying Yoshinkan for umpteen years and I have thought about the points you bring up.

I think that the Yoshinkan teaching methodology is a way (not necessarily the only way) of teaching you to be balanced and focused through-out the technique. I also think that in some cases that the dissecting of the technique has unfortunately become the goal instead of the tool.

That not withstanding, I feel that the training we do in class is just a way of teaching you to move your body to various stimuli. This training is done with techniques that get broken up into smaller and smaller components that we can understand individually. Putting everything back together - as we advance - will hopefully bring up a smooth, powerful, focused technique as well as the ability to react to attacks/situations that we haven't trained for specifically.

If that's the case then it isn't surprising that you have come up with "new stuff" based upon the training you have done. In fact, it might not be "new stuff" but just "old stuff" revisited in a less basic manner (note: in this case I mean basic in the Yoshinkan sense of the basic movements and how they apply to basic techniques).

I wouldn't say "Let go of it" because I think it is a good idea to look at what you are doing and how that might be derived from your basics, but I would suggest you not worry about it.

An aside about this Yoshinkan training methodology (I've only heard this second hand so it might not be 100% accurate):

One day (a long time ago) one of the foreign instructors at the Yoshinkan Hombu dojo went into Shioda Kancho Sensei's office with a question on Tai no henko ni. "I don't know how to do this pivot thing" he said, looking for enlightenment. Kancho Sensei looked at him and said "I don't know. I never do that."

This just highlights to me that the step-by-step method is a training methodology and not the goal of Yoshinkan.

*my* thoughts,


Mark Bilson
09-22-2004, 06:58 PM
Xu Wenfung
Your sense of something deeper within you is correct. Aikido is a physical representation of where you currently are in your life experience.

In Aikido there are no techniques. Search for the form of no form and your eyes will be opened.

Mark Bilson