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Home > Spiritual > The Importance of Receiving
by D. Messisco <Send E-mail to Author> - 25. September, 2002


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Note: This article was first posted on the Aikido Journal website in this thread on their bulletin board.


The problem that arises out of comparing Aikido to other martial arts is that Aikido exists in the absolute world while other arts deal with the relative world. This is not to say that everyone is in the place of no contest: the absolute, but O'Sensei pointed the way through his practice and his character and gave the art direction. It seems that everyone these days is worrying about Aikido's effectiveness or how it will do against this art or that art. Let me give an example of Aikido training's "effectiveness" from my own experience.

When I was living in Korea I organized and led an Aikido class on the military base gym in Seoul. The martial arts room was divided into two sections, separated by a short wall. On the other side, at the same time as mine was a tae kwon do class. While his students were busy doing their kata, the Korean teacher would lean on the divider and glare at me and my students. Japan or its martial arts were not liked by most Koreans at that time for historical reasons.

One day after both our classes were over, he came over to my side and said: "You! Teach me Aikido!" I could tell from his voice and aggressive posture that he was not interested in learning anything from me. Both of our students had gathered round and the tension was so thick, you could cut it with a knife. I realize that this was a challenge and he only wanted to show his students how Japanese Aikido was inferior to Korean martial arts. I politely told him that he was already a great martial artist and I didn't need me to show him anything. But this only increased his anger. "No," he shouted. "You teach me Aikido, now!" Realizing there was no way out of this. I asked him to extend his hand and grabbed HIS wrist. I asked him to pivot and bend his knees. When he did this I followed his movement and took ukemi for him. This continued with various moves, myself always as uke and taking the ukemi for him. After a few throws, the anger in his face began to fade and finally became a big smile. His students and mine breathed a sigh of relieve as no one had lost face. Finally, he reached out his hand in friendship and said: I like this Aikido!

From then on he smiled whenever we met, and when he watched my class during his breaks, it was with genuine interest, rather than distrust.

The power of Aikido lies in the subtleties of mutual victory. Often the importance of receiving (ukemi) is lost in the rhetoric of this technique versus that technique.

Be careful not to "win the battle, but lose the war."


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