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The deception of aikido, as I see it right now, seems to stem from the point that not only is the discipline a matter of reacting and defending, but a matter of (passively?) accepting and actively manipulating the circumstances of an attack to reveal perfect control. Control here is shown to include pain as an option rather than a requirement is showing dominance. Aikido, then, can never be considered a traditional self-defence, although it's true that tradition plays an important role, and defence is most certainly achieved through the process of controlling the situation. Neither can it be simply passed off as a martial art, for while it's certainly a precise art, and is potentially lethally martial, aikido isn't involved with the practitioner's focus of competition and reputation for beng an untouchable badass that's so common elsewhere, in so many walks of life outside.
What, after all, is therefore involved in the pursuit of learning aikido? And how can we as practitioners acknowledge the journey involved in learning this discipline?
In aikido, we enter. This is proactive, this is honest, and above all this is a reflection of how we accept and flow with the changes and challenges that happen all around us. We choose to be involved, and so honour our opponent and our circumstance by adding the value of acknowledgement and attention. This concept of entering is called ‘irimi', and can be considered the cornerstone by which we build relationship within our world. But entering, even when boldly or with the strength of calm acceptance, is not enough to sustain us. For these moments following the irimi, we must learn to ‘tenkan', to turn. We must learn to turn ourselves, with grace and humility, with an open mind, with an adventurous spirit. We must also learn to turn the state of whatever has caused us to enter, whether it is a circumstance that calls us to fight, or a relationship that causes us to be stretched. Not turned as in towards our own opinion or preference, but turned so that both aims, both parties can look towards a common horizon and find empowered completion as well as peace with how they've resolved.