Dojo: ACE Aikido
Location: Los Angeles
Join Date: Jun 2000
Re: Aikido as a "Budo"?
Hi Jun et al.,
I would say that in my world, Budo is an aspect of Aikido, in that, what Aikido is to me expresses itself in the practice and manifestation of Budo.
For me, Budo implies two fundamental aspects: one, what I call Martial Responsibility, and two, a positive sense of "generative development" or "refinement" of one's body, one's character, and one's "spirit."
Martial responsibility involves the understanding of physical, technical, relational, and strategic principles that allow for safe and successful self-defense. People have different ideas about how this is achieved, and in my experience, some more successfully than others.
At any rate, this context of self-defense is mitigated by the sense that Aikido adds the ideas of compassion and of not specifically intending to do harm, but to engage the notion of Aiki and "work" towards a more benevolent conclusion, coming out of interpretations of O Sensei's spirituality and "Budo is love" etc.
This is where the two realms overlap (the martial and the developmental), which to me is a lot of what makes Aikido rather unique. The process of "refinement" is reflected in the actuality of the intention and execution of the art, which for me involves the redefinition of martial principles into a more subtle process of conscious response and intentionality.
Specifically, we can speak of this in terms of Musubi, Tsukuri, Kuzushi, and Waza.
One may speak of Musubi (or Ki Musubi), as the process of joining oneself to an attacker's physical and energetic intention and movement - perhaps an integral aspect of Aiki in-and-of-itself. To bring this more into the realm of "do" and not "jutsu" I think of it in terms of not only tracking my partner properly, but also expanding that connection from my center to something "higher" or "larger than myself" thus bringing in the notion of being guided by something more than my own personal limitations of experience, knowledge, and understanding of reality at any given moment.
Tsukuri can be looked at different ways, but traditionally it is often thought of as putting yourself into an optimal position to apply technique. I think of this, superficially, as a combination of Maai, Tai Sabaki and Shikaku, but beyond that, in the transformational process into Budo, I redefine it as movement and relationship that allows for the release of energy that naturally leads to Kuzushi, thus allowing for a generative conclusion to unfold.
Kuzushi refers of course to the process of unbalancing an opponent, and here the notion of transformation can be seen the most, I think, if we redefine it to carry more of a sense of allowing someone to lose their balance, instead of breaking their balance, or executing/doing something to them so they lose their balance. This changes how I go about the process, and makes me far more sensitive to the moment, rather than what I think or want to moment to be or become.
Finally, although it is very important to understand the actual movement and functional elements of technique fully, we can redefine Waza from the perspective of not doing something to someone, but allowing something to happen out of the mutual process described above (something that I have been taking about for almost 30 years) instead of applying a technique to someone. I think this what O Sensei referred to as Take Musu Aiki: creative higher expression through an unfolding martial process, or the spontaneous creative experience of Aiki made conscious through the martial process.
This difference in "thinking" or perspective, leads to a difference in intent, and therefore in experience and consciousness, which is the key to this refinement and development. Aikido, then, is where I engage in a mutual process that has positive intent, higher aspirations and influences, and safe, responsible martial response - not me doing something to someone that involves intentional violence and references that may be reacted against or countered, within a context of polarization and duality of purpose and intention.
This, for me, is what Budo is more about, and this is what I teach on the mat. It's not necessarily for everyone, but I like it.
Happy New Year.