Discovering Aikido: Principles for Practical Learning  ©





Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.  Mahatma Ghandi


This book outlines training ideas and principles for the committed Aikidoka (Aikido artist). It is hoped that through reading and understanding the various ideas and principles within, one will have the means to map out a personal strategy of dissecting Aikido into its parts and reconstructing the ideas to create new knowledge, and then keeping those ideas in mind, applying it to one’s Aikido practice. Many of the principles within this book also relate to other martial arts. For Aikido beginners or those who practice other arts, a brief introduction of Aikido terminology and training practices is necessary.

Aikido is commonly referred to as The Way of Harmony. Just as a Judoka practices Judo, so an Aikidoka practices Aikido. Japanese terminology is italicised and is further explained in the glossary. The dojo (training hall) is where we train and to make life easy, we use tatami (training mats). The sensei (teacher) sits at the far wall opposite the door and the students line up. Out of respect, teacher and students rei (bow) to a picture of O-sensei (Ueshiba Morihei, the founder of Aikido) and then to each other at the beginning and end of class. Students also rei to each other every time they change training partners.

The attacker is called uke (receiver of applied technique) and the defender is called tori (the do-er). When uke falls, they are said to take ukemi (break-fall). Aikido techniques are done from three positions: tachi-waza (standing techniques), suwari-waza (kneeling techniques), and hanmi-handachi (one standing and one kneeling techniques). Three weapons are incorporated into Aikido training: bokken (sword), jo (staff), and tanto (knife). Two main principles of Aikido are irimi (entering) and tenkan (turning). Sometimes called omote and ura, these two principles usually dictate the training routine. The idea of irimi is to enter uke’s attack and to cross uke’s front. It is quite a difficult concept to comprehend and might be likened to entering the attack with the intent of reversing it back upon uke. Contrasting this, when performing tenkan, tori turns, moves to the rear, and allows uke’s attack to continue in its intended direction. Typically, uke attacks tori four times alternating left and right. The first two times tori performs two irimi techniques, typically one from right posture, and then another from the left. The second two times, tori performs two tenkan techniques, again, from both the left and right. After that, the roles are reversed. Also, in Aikido, the role of uke, the receiver, is often considered of equal, if not more, importance to that of tori since being controlled or thrown offers insight into how the techniques are performed.

Aikido movement can broadly be divided into three types: (1) Basic exercises train the body to move in a predetermined way; (2) Kokyu-ho (breath exercise) and kokyu-nage (breath throw) are mid-way between exercise and technique and consist of simple movements that help tori to harmonise with and move uke in efficient manner; (3) Aikido waza (techniques) consist of immobilizations, where uke is directed to the floor and held down, and projections, where uke is thrown. The technical aim of Aikido is not just to learn a vast array of waza, rather, it is to perfect a limited number. One has to internalise what is learned in the basic exercises and kokyu practice and incorporate it all into the waza; easy to say, very difficult to do. With time, one will become aware of endless variations as the principles of Aikido become more apparent. Unfortunately, many never get this far, which is why I hope this book will be useful.



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