While driving a group of students on one of my trips this summer the
subject of fighting came up and I commented that "Aikidoists don't
fight." Some of you may now be asking, "If this won't help me in
fighting, why am I studying it?" That is a fair question. Let's
explore the answer.
While Aikido is indeed a martial art, that does not automatically make
it a fighting art. We are an art of peace, not fighting. Our object
is not to fight, but rather to restore peace where it is absent. This
is not done by reducing your antagonist to a bloody hulk. Our
techniques are developed to a place of calm rather than one of
agitated tension. We work on harmonious relationships rather than
contentious ones. We espouse relaxation in the face of tension. None
of our behaviors support the concept of fighting.
Now, what is fighting? Fighting is "To struggle against in battle or
physical combat." (Britannica World Language Dictionary). In my view
it takes two or more to have a fight. An antagonist may try to fight
us but his efforts are ineffective because his perspective is flawed.
While he is fighting or struggling against us, we are simply trying to
find a resolving action to bring the individual into harmony with us
and the nature around us. If we elect to fight we have changed our
mind set to one which is not consistent with Aikido philosophy and so
have departed from the practice of aikido.
This "attitude adjustment" is what takes so long for most of us who
study aikido. The techniques can be learned in a relatively short
period of time but it can be years before they become as effective as
they can be because of the time it takes to learn and internalize the
spirit of aikido. Until that time, most of us are simply using aikido
techniques to fight more effectively but we are not truly practicing
aikido as the founder, O Sensei, and Master Tohei envision it.
Eto Sensei, during his seminars in Virginia and Maryland, stressed the
absence of "fighting mind." When he learned to throw away fighting
mind, he was able to truly find the power of aikido. Should we do any
less in our lives?
When you study aikido to become a better fighter, you will learn some
good techniques to help you in your quest but you will never find the
path to true aikido. Only by setting aside the goal of becoming a
better fighter and adopting the goal of developing a non-fighting mind
will you find the true path to aikido and its message for the
During daily training you will find this path by seeking the flow
associated with a technique: Where is the power of the opponent and
how can it help me in creating harmony of movement? How can I lead
this power during a technique? If I have mis-read the power or it has
changed, how can I find the path to achieve a state of harmony? These
are the real questions, not how quickly can I throw or trash an
opponent. These latter questions are those of fighting while the more
complex questions asked earlier are those of the questor for aikido
Reprinted with permission from Virginia Ki Society's "Ki Notes" Newsletter.