Aikido at the Aikibudokan
A Traditional Dojo Offering Instruction in Aikido, Koryu ("old flow") Martial Arts, Classical Japanese Samurai Weapons Forms
and Practical Self-Defense
Aikido - The Way of Harmony, is the way (do) of blending with (ai) energy or spirit (ki) of the opponent. It is simultaneously a powerful, sophisticated, elegant and effective Japanese martial art form.
Using throws, joint locks, take downs, striking techniques, strangulations and immobilization's that use ancient principles of strategy, tactics and body dynamics, an
aikido student learns to avoid, redirect and neutralize the force of the opponent's
attack and to use the opponents' weight, muscular force and momentum against them.
Aikido's entering & circular blending movements do not rely on brute strength or athletic prowess for effectiveness; making it a practical and useful study for men and women of all ages, sizes and abilities and at the same time, a highly effective means of self-defense.
Its' graceful and flowing techniques and its' philosophical focus on defensive concepts provide a unique alternative to other martial arts that rely primarily on offensive strikes, kicks, and aggressive attitudes to make them work.
Since its' inception and initial development in the late 1800's and early 1900's and its' world-wide growth after WW II, Aikido has been widely adopted by military and law enforcement agencies for use by officers due to it's effectiveness in controlling and neutralizing a violent situation, but in not unnecessarily harming the suspect unless absolutely necessary.
Today, the vast majority of Aikido practioners are non-military/non-law enforcement civilians who train in Aikido not only for self defense, but also for physical fitness, self confidence and a desire to learn classical Budo (a martial way of life) that emphasizes Do or 'the way' with personal, physical, ethical and spiritual development as their ultimate goal of training.
Long time students have found that Aikido provides what they were looking for, whether it's a study of classical forms from the Samurai of the past, modern day self-defense ability, spiritual enlightenment, physical health, or just peace of mind.
A Brief History: Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969), also known as O'Sensei, ("Great Teacher") developed aikido from samurai
battlefield techniques. Studying and mastering various schools of jujitsu
(primarily aiki-jujutsu), sword, staff and spear, he became one of the greatest
martial artists of the twentieth century.
He was a deeply spiritual man who, subsequent to the destruction of the second world war, struggled to reconcile the violent aspects of martial arts with his search for harmony and internal peace. In a moment of profound enlightenment (satori) he came to realize that martial training was futile when it relied only on victory, dopmination or brute control over others. He concluded that transcending victory and defeat and learning to be more aware of the "big picture" could lead to a higher and more sophisticated understanding of life thereby developing a more mature, centered and balanced human being.
Instead of only victory, "The secret of Aikido is to harmonize with the movements of the universe." With this new awareness (wonderfully and most cryptically phrased in Japanese) O'Sensei developed what is today known as Aikido, a fundamentally different martial art of refinement and elegance, but one that is simultaneously powerful and effective in the same way that Aikido's parent art forms of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujutsu and Kito Ryu Jujutsu were known to be.
Interesting enough, once this realization set in and became a part of his Aikido philosophy and training methodology, the art form became even more powerful than before, with sheer physical strength and aggressive attitudes becoming less important than blending and flowing, not resisting the attackers' physical strength and redirecting the attackers' energy and aggression.
This allowed the practitioner to relax and to apply technique as needed; instead of becoming tense, panicing and making fatal errors. As a result the art form evolved and became more powerful, effective and adaptive to differing situations than it had ever been before.
As O'Sensei (Ueeshiba) became well known and his reputation for teaching high-level martial arts grew, an increasing number of senior and experienced martial artists from other styles (such as Judo) joined his classes to learn Ueshiba Aikibudo, and later Aikido. These students included such well known martial artists as Tomiki, Saito, Mochizuki, Tohei, Shioda, Takashita and many others.
These students later went on to teach their own view of Aikido which today is why styles such as Tomiki Ryu, Shodokan, Yoseikan, Shin Shin Toitsu and Iwama Ryu exist. Each teaches Aikido but each in their own way and view. Aikido is Aikido is Aikido; but the way in which it is taught and the overall emphasis (on hand to hand, focusing on tanto, focusing on self-defense, focusing on sword and stick) is where the difference in teaching pedagogy arises.
A Brief Comment on Muso Zato Isana Tomiki Ryu Aikido: The early forms of martial arts were fairly comprehensive and included an exploration of many areas of combat, both unarmed and armed. As time progressed and as the need for the Samurai vanished but an interest in preserving the old methods grew, the martial arts of Japan became specialized. Weapons were retained in such areas as kenjutsu, kendo, iaido (for example) while the hand to hand forms specialized into striking (karate-do), throwing and grappling (early Kodokan and Kosen Judo) and striking/joint locking/throwing/pinning (aiki-do). Certainly, there was much overlap in many regards and some ancient koryu groups retained broader scope of study but for the most part the three major hand-to-hand forms that survived and that are practiced today are Aikido, Judo and Karate.
Even Aikido (as it evolved from its' pre-WW II beginnings as Aiki Jutsu to Aikibudo to Aikido) evolved with some groups focusing on aiki-ken and aiki-jo, others evolving into police/military forms, others gaining a larger focus on internals (ki and medition) while others became sports oriented. As a result it is the opinion of many senior martial artists today that Aikido per se, has itself become overly specialized. This is very clearly illustrated by the continual efforts of various groups to "add back" areas of study such as foot sweeps or grappling; all in an apparent effort to "put back" what they perceive as having been "taken out". In one sense this is admirable but when viewed from a different angle makes little sense. Arbitrarily adding things in without a full understanding of what the broad scopt of Aikido actually encompasses and how the waza and kata were shaped around the fundamental principles; can flaw the "new" comglomerate system from both a technical and philosophical aspect.
The Muso Zato Isana concept is to take the core of what Mr. Tomiki developed since it, like Kano's development of the Kodokan Judo teaching pedagogy, is widely recognized as the one of the best ways in which to teach the fundamentals and build the skill sets of how to use "distant judo" to control and neutralize the first moment of opportunity. If this is fully understood then other areas of study such as Judo foot sweeps or grappling are not necessary to learn since the Aikido player should never be exposed to these issues having completely neutralized them at the first possible moment of timing and first violation of combative distance (the moment of "1st touch").
However, since "life, the universe and all that" is what it is, our teaching is to take the core as developed by Mr. Tomiki and add only those specific areas (foot sweeps, hand throws, grappling, sacrifice throws, strangulation techniques, etc.) that best fit the Aikido paradigmatic view AND make the most efficient use of Aikido principles of control of distance, angles and timing. In this manner, the Aikido can be expanded and enhanced without the arbitrary inclusion of "everything including the kitchen sink" which has never been shown to do anything other than lose the best facets of what you had and tried to change, but lost instead.
This is actually made much easier than it may initially seem since Kano himself viewed Aikido as "..my perfect Budo.." and visualized a broad Aikido study and additionally, since Tomiki brought a strong "Judo flavor" to Tomiki Ryu Aikido. In a sense, have some Judo flavor is simply re-capturing what has been there all along, but not recognized by many Aikido players.
We think this approach is truly unique in the Aikido universe and very much in line with O'Sensei' and Tomiki Sensei' vision of Aikido evolving and retaining its practical usefulness, and Aikido practice having a very natural "flow" to it.
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