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The Realm of Aiki
The Realm of Aiki
by Francis Takahashi
10-19-2011
The Realm of Aiki

The word "realm" may well refer to a field of interest or study. It may also describe an area of activity, unfettered by any lack of imagination or genius, that represents significant evidence of proven accomplishment and undisputed value.

For me, both the notion and the existence of "Aiki" fit the definition above, not as a kingdom or province ruled by fallible humans, but of an unconditional state of endless promise to any and all who dare to explore and benefit from its treasures. Thus, it is not only the possible genesis for the "Aikido" we choose to champion and study, but essentially for any valid expression of human need for knowledge, inspiration, identity, enlightenment, fulfillment and wisdom. From the beginning of human consciousness and reason, there has been "Aiki", available to those who appreciated its value and were willing to do whatever it took to incorporate its principles into achievement. For those fortunate few amongst us, it is possible to build our very own "realm of aiki", in honor of and appreciation for the infinitely larger model.

In my very limited view, I can recognize and honor the existence and application of Aiki Principles in all cultures, philosophies and movement towards civilized attempts at harmonious co-existence with nature, and with one another. The fact that it has not, is not, and may never really be a major resource in society, attests to the inherent difficulty of realizing the potential of what is really a simple concept. We simply need to step up our respective game, discard petty ideological squabbles, and to work with true diligence, individually or in cohesive groups, to reap the benefits of successfully applying those principles in our societal structures and mutually beneficial activities.

The magnificent and priceless resources of works like the Aikido Journal, Aiki Web, and of previous and sundry other attempts to provide working forums for mutual co operation and exchange, must not be squandered, or taken for granted. These, and future forums to be, are essential guideposts, oases even, in our trek through the realm of aiki. This realm is only user friendly to those who are willing to dedicate themselves to the often solitary work of discovering how to appropriately apply aiki principles to their "works in progress", and to appreciate others doing the same.

This generation can do much to preserve an open environment of amazing resources and growth potential for serious students of Aiki, and create their own templates of the Founder's original pioneering model. And well we should, if we choose to willingly heed the Founder's mission cry for the building and maintenance of his "Silver Bridge", which must become OUR Silver Bridge, sooner than later. We need to train harder, study deeper, share wider, and think and feel in dimensions beyond our current place and pace in our respective journeys. We must be kinder to ourselves and to one another, realizing how truly difficult an endeavor it real is, and how vitally important it is to be mutually supportive, and to share our findings openly without thoughts of dominion or personal gain.

It remains unclear to me as to what emphasis the Founder placed on the word "aiki", or even if it was the single most essential building block of his Aikido. Opinions surely do vary, and proofs still prove inconclusive, elusive or, at times, downright abusive. That has to stop. If arguments over the origin of "aiki" concepts are in vogue, let us allow them to run their course, and eventually drift away. Does it really matter which society, country or system needs to take credit for what has essentially been a universal resource over the ages? Rather, let us focus on obtaining the highest benefits from its study, and work to enhance Aiki's applicability to the challenges we face today. If you want to train like a maniacal warrior, go for it. If you prefer to use your aiki sensibilities to create a more serene foundation for meditation and enlightenment, do so by all means. And for those who simply enjoy the occasional release of emotions and daily tensions by training at the dojo of choice, no need to feel guilty, inadequate or lacking in any way. It is your Aiki, and be grateful and content that it can happen in your very own Realm.

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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Old 10-19-2011, 11:32 AM   #2
crbateman
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Another thought-provoking article, Francis Sensei. I try to think of aiki as a natural way; something that is simply there, if one allows himself to merge with its flow and form, rather than forcing actions and methods that are not natural. It's not something that happens by itself, for me anyway, but becomes less difficult with practice, and more evident if one remembers to be aware of it, yet not focus specifically on it. It's also something that it seems can be embraced equally on a mental level as well as a physical one. Someday, even I may get it right (but don't bet the farm on it... ) .

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts with us.
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Old 10-19-2011, 12:38 PM   #3
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Hi Francis -

I see the foundation of the concept of Aiki as being one of inclusion rather than of exclusivity. Arguments as to the correct interpretation of translations of original writings notwithstanding, it's clear to me that O Sensei intended Aikido to be shared with the world and knew that its form would assume many guises. This, in my view, precludes any one Way claiming to be the "True" Way of Aiki.

If we, via our training, are seeking to obtain "the highest benefits from its study" then we must ignore the calls for the narrowing of the scope of Aiki's applicability and, each of us, follow the path that lays before our feet.

Thanks again for your continued contributions to this web site. Your voice of tolerance and reason is a welcome respite to the discord that characterizes so many of the discussions here.

Best,

Ron

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Old 10-19-2011, 04:07 PM   #4
SeiserL
 
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

I always enjoy being in the realm of Takahashi.

Compliments and appreciation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:07 PM   #5
Diana Frese
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Seiser Sensei is right, there is a "realm of Takahashi" within the realm of Aiki that is expansive, reaches far and sees many things, but also reminds us where each of us is standing as individuals.
It makes life more enjoyable whenever we share this point of view, and furthermore it makes difficult things seem less difficult and seemingly impossible things possibly ... possible. And within this realm are some of my friends who no longer train but who are still part of the realm of Aiki. I'll be sure to let them know, even though some don't, or rarely do, use computers

Maybe there is some connection between the name and the silver bridge? Or have his occasional puns had a subtle influence on our minds?

Last edited by Diana Frese : 10-25-2011 at 02:10 PM. Reason: changed "they" to "some"
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Old 10-25-2011, 02:27 PM   #6
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Ron has explained a very wise point of view and Clark, great suggestions for each as an individual. Thanks!
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Old 10-28-2011, 08:35 AM   #7
Diana Frese
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Me again, with another of my many "memories"... Marianne was working very diligently at the main library in our city (though she has been back on Long Island for many years and expects to test for Nidan there in December )

The last paragraph reminded me of our two hour classes at the local YMCA: we had plenty of time for general warm ups, then basic aikido movements (get our own balance before working with a partner) then some techniques with a partner, and then often free style based on the techniques taught that day....

Marianne said that if she had a headache after work, after twenty minutes she felt great and enjoyed the classes. That was in the late seventies, so even though she wasn't training for a while on Long Island, it really is a testimony to how people enjoy Aikido in the beginning, then even if they stop for a while, eventually they might find a dojo near home and stick with it! It becomes an important part of their lives. They have claimed it as part of their personal realm, and they are part of the Realm of Aikido...
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Old 01-17-2012, 12:55 PM   #8
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

For my first 20 years I just learned techniques and while I thought I advanced, I got nowhere. For the last ten or so I have been searching / researching / looking / trying / testing out my understanding of aiki. I have no frame of reference for comparison becuase few others think likewise. Everywhere I go it's technique technique technique. Kokyu ho and kokyu nage and kokyu ryoku are all just more techniques on a syllabus for most people out there. All this waffle on about harmony, peace, universal, nature, ki, and such like is for those who simply have no idea and need something to attach to and cling on to. For me, aiki is a practical skill that can be learned and it is the very core of what we should be chasing. And you have to chase it becuase there is no one out there who will show you. I know I'm on to something and strangely, no one out there is remotley interested. If someone does express interest and I listen, they spend 90% of their time telling me what they think and from the very first word they utter I know they have no clue, and the more I have to listen the less I am likely to say anything at all. However, threads like this indicate that people are becoming interested. I don't even know if I am headed in the right direction but from my perspective, most people advance to a certain stage and then stagnate or worse, slowly deteriorate, for the rest of their lives.
Just my 2c.

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Old 01-18-2012, 05:34 AM   #9
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Quote:
Rupert Atkinson wrote: View Post
For my first 20 years I just learned techniques and while I thought I advanced, I got nowhere. For the last ten or so I have been searching / researching / looking / trying / testing out my understanding of aiki. I have no frame of reference for comparison becuase few others think likewise. Everywhere I go it's technique technique technique. Kokyu ho and kokyu nage and kokyu ryoku are all just more techniques on a syllabus for most people out there. All this waffle on about harmony, peace, universal, nature, ki, and such like is for those who simply have no idea and need something to attach to and cling on to. For me, aiki is a practical skill that can be learned and it is the very core of what we should be chasing. And you have to chase it becuase there is no one out there who will show you. I know I'm on to something and strangely, no one out there is remotley interested. If someone does express interest and I listen, they spend 90% of their time telling me what they think and from the very first word they utter I know they have no clue, and the more I have to listen the less I am likely to say anything at all. However, threads like this indicate that people are becoming interested. I don't even know if I am headed in the right direction but from my perspective, most people advance to a certain stage and then stagnate or worse, slowly deteriorate, for the rest of their lives.
Just my 2c.
Hi Rupert

Agree very much with what you have written and am at that 20 year wall right now. Despite some great teachers that I've met and trained with somehow there seems to be something thats not quite as it should be, something more that I don't see. Fortunately there are people that can help, they are here and they do seminars. Unfortunately their style of correspondence seems to upset some people and detracts from their message to a point where they get accused of talking 'Mumbo jumbo'....Its a shame as up close and hands on the message comes across so differently. To add to the issue...normally respectable down to earth average joe types like myself when posting in their support get dismissed as being devotees and cult followers.

Never mind - Like you I carry on working and look forward to seeing some progress in the future, hopefully in the right direction.

Cheers

D
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:19 AM   #10
Abasan
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Aiki... starts with technique, ends with surrender.

Draw strength from stillness. Learn to act without acting. And never underestimate a samurai cat.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:17 AM   #11
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Quote:
Ahmad Abas wrote: View Post
Aiki... starts with technique, ends with surrender.
Aiki starts with composure and acceptance and ends with an appropriate non-resisting technique

As an uke, what you can't feel, you can't resist.

Last edited by David Yap : 01-18-2012 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 01-18-2012, 11:17 AM   #12
DH
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Quote:
Daren Sims wrote: View Post
Hi Rupert

Agree very much with what you have written and am at that 20 year wall right now. Despite some great teachers that I've met and trained with somehow there seems to be something thats not quite as it should be, something more that I don't see. Fortunately there are people that can help, they are here and they do seminars. Unfortunately their style of correspondence seems to upset some people and detracts from their message to a point where they get accused of talking 'Mumbo jumbo'....Its a shame as up close and hands on the message comes across so differently. To add to the issue...normally respectable down to earth average joe types like myself when posting in their support get dismissed as being devotees and cult followers.

Never mind - Like you I carry on working and look forward to seeing some progress in the future, hopefully in the right direction.

Cheers

D
Hmmmm...
How do you think I feel arguing for years with people who couldn't..after all was said and done ....do a damn thing to me in person, over and over and over, because of aiki. Every instinct I have is to walk away, until I remember all of the faces, their joy at finally being able to do these thing and the deeply heart felt thank you's.

As far as so many people saying things and having them attack you for offering their witness? When you think of it, the only tactical recourse to 1so many people saying things so positive as to make it sound rare and unusual is to discredit the witness all together. They have to.
Why? There is no creditable response to be made otherwise. They would have to acknowledge it, and this places some very difficult questions on the table.

Consider the old refrain that truth passed though three phases:
First is it denied
Then it is vehemently opposed
Then it is looked at as common knowledge


Go back a few years and you will find me posting the current trend. I said once it reaches the point that there are too many witnesses and many people adopt it, the next phase will be to personalize everyone expression of aiki to make it okay.

You know what the next step is going to be? When everyone's personal expression of aiki continually fails face to face with those training and using Ueshiba's own defined teachings of Aiki. Then...everyone is going to start advertising teaching internal power and aiki.

The next phase?
The ones who still don't know, will meet those who train Aiki and they will still fail.

In the end, Morihei Ueshiba's teaching are just simply going to win, because he was right, the principles work and are above dispute. They are above debate. I still find it incredible that so many use him as an example, talk about his power, repeat the stories and then...when they are challenged, say "Well, it isn't about being effective, it's about peace." I cannot reconcile that with wearing budo trappings and swinging swords.

The rhealm of aiki is as rare now as it was then...regardless of the shear volume of people who think they get it and are doing it. All it takes is a touch. Fortunately there are men out there within and outside of aikido who get it and are teaching to various degrees. I think it is beneficial to consider that there are people far better at aiki then most others and those should be our sources for better information and training.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 01-18-2012 at 11:29 AM.
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Old 01-18-2012, 05:09 PM   #13
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Having trained with the writer of the column and the last poster also.
A couple of things.
As long as YOU the person trying to create Aiki or chase Aiki or not chase Aiki have contemplated why you are training and what YOU are training, I believe that is a correct path and the correct path for YOU.
The people who come to the dojo to do the "dance" moves of Aikido or get a cardio workout are fine and creating their own "realm" for THEIR aiki. I.E. " a good workout " or "correct body movements".
As long as you know what YOU are there for and keep it mindful it will all work itself out in the end.
Mainly, staying healthy with a "connected body/mind and not getting my clock cleaned or prematurely dead in a hostile encounter.
Who knows , it may grow to more than that , but , right now this is where my "realm " is

Last edited by Garth : 01-18-2012 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 01-18-2012, 06:48 PM   #14
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Quote:
Gregory Gargiso wrote: View Post
Having trained with the writer of the column and the last poster also.
A couple of things.
As long as YOU the person trying to create Aiki or chase Aiki or not chase Aiki have contemplated why you are training and what YOU are training, I believe that is a correct path and the correct path for YOU.
The people who come to the dojo to do the "dance" moves of Aikido or get a cardio workout are fine and creating their own "realm" for THEIR aiki. I.E. " a good workout " or "correct body movements".
As long as you know what YOU are there for and keep it mindful it will all work itself out in the end.
Mainly, staying healthy with a "connected body/mind and not getting my clock cleaned or prematurely dead in a hostile encounter.
Who knows , it may grow to more than that , but , right now this is where my "realm " is
Hi Greg.....I've never seen you post here!! It was great seeing you again!
I have no trouble with that. The "what is aiki to you?" question is completety different than talking about Ueshiba's aiki.
Further still "what is your aikido?" is completely different from "what is Ueshiba's aikido?". Anyone who wants to discuss Ueshiba's aiki or aikido should be capable of demonstrating at least some degree of exceptional or unusual power, and be able to define some of what he said.
Lacking those things, what are their opinions about Ueshiba really worth?
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:47 PM   #15
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

I'm highly sympathetic to the mindset that Takahashi Sensei points us towards in his column. The principles of aiki should point us towards a harmonious relationship to our world, as O-Sensei suggested. I'm unwilling to cede the term "aiki" for this, though--as Dan posts above, I think O-Sensei had a highly specific set of skills in mind when he talked of aiki, and we should use the term as he did to refer to those skills. Maybe "aiki-do" would be closer to the mark, but shouldn't "aikido" be the martial art based on aiki skills? So I would fall back on talking about the aiki mindset, or aiki spirituality--what happens when you incorporate the body practice and apply it to the spirit--as you must, if you understand that body and spirit are one.

But that suggests that applying "aiki" to our relationship to the world is not easy, or cheap, or free. Just as the body practice of aiki requires discipline, constant practice, and honest no-bullshit feedback, so the spiritual practice of aiki requires the same. You may have your own path, but if it doesn't lead to honest, centered encounters with real connection and real understanding--you've missed the path of aiki. I may honor your effort, but regret to inform you your path is junk.

Tonight's posting brought to you by Taz Pinot Noir of Santa Barbara County, on 50% discount at the NH state liquor store. Highly recommended.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:04 PM   #16
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

I have no trouble with that. The "what is aiki to you?" question is completety different than talking about Ueshiba's aiki.
Further still "what is your aikido?" is completely different from "what is Ueshiba's aikido?". Anyone who wants to discuss Ueshiba's aiki or aikido should be capable of demonstrating at least some degree of exceptional or unusual power, and be able to define some of what he said.
Lacking those things, what are their opinions about Ueshiba really worth?


A worthy endeavor without doubt. All of us in Aikido, and also some not, seek to be like the founder as best we can. Opinions are just that, and misguided and misunderstood at best as the research points to.
Ueshiba certainly did the work to make his "aiki" happen. I would venture to say that his prewar aiki was different from his post war . Without him standing before us , it is up to us , as he said, "to figure it out for yourselves", using whatever guides we can for our particular circumstances.
Practical application, not opinions as Dan points out , is all any of this is worth a damn, spiritual or martial, to me that is

Last edited by Garth : 01-18-2012 at 09:12 PM.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:30 PM   #17
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Re: The Realm of Aiki

Or maybe the question should be, Am I doing my best to do Ueshiba's Aiki or the best Aiki I can do?
No matter the situation or circumstance we find ourselves in.
Imitation is one thing, making the aiki our own is another question worthy of exploring.
My humble two cents
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