Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba – ‘ The art of peace’


Aikido

Aikido, created by the Japanese master Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), the word means “The art (or way) of peace.”

Aikido (合気道 Aikidō?) is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as “the Way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the Way of harmonious spirit.” Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements. The techniques are completed with various throws or joint locks.

Aikido derives mainly from the martial art of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, but began to diverge from it in the late 1920s, partly due to Ueshiba’s involvement with the Ōmoto-kyō religion. Ueshiba’s early students’ documents bear the term aiki-jūjutsu.

Ueshiba’s senior students have different approaches to aikido, depending partly on when they studied with him. Today aikido is found all over the world in a number of styles, with broad ranges of interpretation and emphasis. However, they all share techniques learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker.

Ueshiba, who is known by those who practice Aikido as “The Grand Master”, left behind a series of philosophical practices, during his conferences, in his poetry and conversations with disciples. Here are a few of his main teachings.

Where to begin the art of peace

The art of peace begins inside you; work to manage to keep it at your side. Everyone has a spirit which can be perfected, a body which can be trained, and a path to follow.


You are here to fulfill these three tasks, and to do so two things will be necessary: maintain calm, and practice the Art in everything you do. None of us needs money, power or status in order to practice the Art; at this precise moment you are one step away from Paradise, and should train now.

The universe and us

The whole universe comes from the same source. This source, which we call life, contains our past, the present, and the future. As man moves forward, he can either dissolve or harmonize his vital energy. Evil is born the moment we start to believe that that which belongs to all, belongs only to ourselves; this causes pride, useless desires, and anger. But anyone not possessed by things, eventually becomes lord of all.

The eight forces

In order to practice the Art of Peace, one must at some point delve alternately into the eight opposing forces which make up the Universe:

Movement and inertia
Solidity and adaptation,
Contraction and distention,
Unification and division.

These are present in everything, from the vast space to the smallest plants; each thing carries a gigantic reserve of universal energy, which can be used for the benefit of all.

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