Aikido and Purpose
Mokuteki, means "purpose" in Japanese, referring to an objective, a purpose or an intention. How does this word relate to understanding, and improving one's Aikido?
Paraphrasing the words of the Founder of Aikido, the purpose of learning and applying the Principles of Aiki is to better communicate with, and to interact more harmoniously in synch with the elements of our environment, as well as with those people we encounter in our daily lives. Our Aikido training itself is purposed, in part, to prepare us to respond appropriately, and to maximize the potential benefits from these encounters, and to capitalize fully on these given opportunities with a grateful spirit of genuine respect and appreciation.
By choosing not to be primarily concerned with merely overcoming potential opponents, we can then focus more productively on the ongoing construction and subconscious retooling of our non confrontational behavior. By choosing to focus on fashioning and reinforcing the foundations of mutual interests, we can happily achieve a genuine and much needed appreciation for the needs of the others we interact with. This has as an added benefit, the ability to attend to any shifting priorities, and to better enhance our short, medium, and long distance goals.
By practicing Aikido kata and waza with our enlightened peers, we will undoubtedly and more efficiently learn proper body mechanics, harmonious interaction with another moving body, and to share in the well earned discovery of workable solutions and proven techniques, that are personally satisfying, and mutually productive.
Aikido techniques must be genuinely and meticulously developed from following a training regimen that has proven effectiveness, even of lethality. In turn, these reformatted techniques can also prove useful in promoting the maintenance of good health, provide realistic and humane resolution of conflicts, and to encourage the welcome practice of honest empathy, compassion, and those "random acts of kindness, and senseless acts of beauty".
For those who seek quick fixes, ready to use systems, reformulated behavior responses and predetermined mindsets to "do battle with the enemy", countless choices abound. Now is the time to take the time to completely re-examine our basic motives, and notions of fairness, need for mutual respect, preserving an environment of security, and the wisdom to appreciate the uniqueness we find in one another. We can begin this search anew each time we train together on the mat.
Aikido's purpose is not to only offer a system to grow from within, but to also structure a foundation upon which we may choose how best to create, recreate, reconstruct and to constantly grow within one's crafted sense of aikido.
Each genuine movement in Aikido must have valid principles imbedded in its intent and purpose, and be consistently evident in daily practice. The techniques themselves must have the capacity to translate the "No Harm" training motto into a workable and pragmatic capacity to restrain, redirect and to render ineffective an actual aggressor, and to thus subdue actual conflict.
Unfortunately, we also operate within a very real environment of SH (Shit Happens). This really means that we must assume full responsibility for any significant harm that does result, and to ensure that it did not arise from malicious intent, or from insufficient training, but rather from unavoidable and unpredictable circumstances.
Any misunderstandings that continue to exist, may well be caused by an unfortunate and perhaps, unconscious "intent to do harm". Congruent with the unmistakable right to act in effective self defense, or to take appropriate protective measures on behalf of another person or persons, we must always strive to be clear and transparent in our intent, and in the actions taken to help address any wrong doing, or to diffuse any unstable situation.
Aikido adepts are encouraged to first employ nonviolent options to resolve any unavoidable disagreements, violent confrontations, or of the threat of imminent harm. They are by no means prohibited from exercising any and all reasonable means and options, including the necessary and unavoidable application of overwhelming force, to effect their purpose. Personal accountability is a given.
Actual fighting may not be the first option to take, but if it proves to be the last viable option available, it is then incumbent on us to do so as well as possible.
The big Why for Aikido's working philosophy is to promote, protect and to propagate good health, as well as to ensure a welcome environment of reasonable security, and an indiscriminating and open opportunity for all.
Authentic students of Ueshiba Aiki are indeed warriors, who seek first to non violently effect peaceful resolutions, and to arrive at mutually satisfying solutions whenever possible. They are by no means to be considered mere "pacifists", seeking only non confrontational solutions at all costs. This is delusional, and inconsistent with surviving logically in an unpredictable and often violent world. In every appropriate sense, we are prepared to proactively maintain the balance, and to hopefully keep the peace.
Genuine students of the Founder's Aikido generally prefer peaceful and non-violent resolutions to confrontations. The techniques used while training with fellow students, are not necessarily the ones to finally and reasonably employ in more unpredictable and acutely dangerous situations. The final decision to choose amongst the many appropriate methods and mind sets, remains strictly within the purview and personal accountability of each individual person.
We should remain committed to continuing our training in the routines of choice, while responsibly doing active and ongoing research into alternative methods of appropriate response to crises. The Way of Aiki is not easy, but it is simple, and it must remain transparently clear.
Finally, we must never forget our primary purposes of survival, security, and the maintenance of the freedom to accomplish our goals in life. Isn't this the very foundation upon which all of our other activities should be based? When we are assured of our survivability, we can then calmly address our other concerns, priorities and goals we have chosen for ourselves.
The Aiki Principles exist to help us do just that. Perhaps we need to further study the Founder's life struggles to see how he actually did it for himself. Yes, this study may very well include other giants of Aiki for us to examine as well.
In the meantime, we have no time to waste. Let us keep training with purpose.
Francis Takahashi was born in 1943, in Honolulu, Hawaii. Francis began his Aikido journey in 1953, simultaneously with the introduction of Aikido to Hawaii by Koichi Tohei, a representative sent from Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. This event was sponsored by the Hawaii Nishi System of Health Engineering, with Noriyasu Kagesa as president. Mr. Kagesa was Francis's grandfather, and was a life long supporter of Mr. Tohei, and of Aikido. In 1961, the Founder visited Hawaii to help commemorate the opening of the new dojo in Honolulu. This was the first, and only time Francis had the opportunity to train with the Founder. In 1963, Francis was inducted into the U.S. Army, and was stationed for two years in Chicago, Illinois. He was the second instructor for the fledgling Chicago Aikido Club, succeeding his childhood friend, Chester Sasaki, who had graduated from the University of Illinois, and was entering the Air Force. Francis is currently ranked 7th dan Aikikai, and enjoys a direct affiliation with Aikikai Foundation for the recommending and granting of dan ranks via his organization, Aikikai Associates West Coast. Francis is the current dojo-cho of Aikido Academy in Alhambra, California.
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