What is Aikido?
Aikido is a martial art that has its origins with Aiki-jujutsu, but there are substantial variations of how it’s taught and practiced.
There are two defining features of Aikido:
1. It is the art of overcoming opponents using minimum effort. Koichi Tohei, in ‘Ki Sayings‘ (1973), said something along the lines of: ‘the power we ordinarily use is like the visible segment of an iceberg‘. The hidden strength is manifested with relaxation and co-ordnation, so we’re no longer using just one part of the body to make a technique work.
2. Aikido should encourage physical and mental self-improvement. Practice with confidence, project ourselves and improve our ability to remain relaxed under pressure.
What is ‘Ki’?
Ki is a widely misunderstood concept in the martial arts. Even though Aiki is the cornerstone of Aikido, it’s not easily defined. My personal understanding of ‘Ki’ is it’s the physical force carried across the conection between the centres of gravity of two physical objects. This connection is what makes for a perfectly-executed technique, but for this to happen, Aikido practitioners must themselves be moving in co-ordination with their centres of gravity (often referred to as the ‘Ki point’).
In the above picture you’ll see the opening of a technique where one person is ‘extending Ki’ through his arm – the whole body is used in the technique rather than just the arm. Because of this, he is able to utilise all his strength and body mass to much greater effect. It is from this that all our techniques follow.
So how does this work for self-defence?
Very few, if any, techniques are used in self-defence as practiced on the mat – they are really just the vehicle for teaching Aiki. This is probably true of almost all martial arts. Therefore, as we progress, we look at the principles behind the techniques and develop ways of achieving the same results with minimal effort. This gives us a basis on which to improvise and adapt under pressure. This skill, rather than the ability to memorise techniques, is what’s tested in our gradings at higher levels.
TAGS: Aikido, Cardiff, Wales, Welsh Aikido Society