Introduction to Aikido
“Progress comes to those who train and train. Reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere."
Aikido was created by O'Sensei Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) as a synthesis of his previous martial arts experience, as well as an approach of delivering his personal philosophy of universal peace and harmony. O'Sensei had trained in various martial arts, including weapon fighting. After years of training, he had found his purpose in creating Aikido as an art that could be used by anyone to defend himself while also protecting his attacker from injury. This is the "Harmony - Ai" spirit of the art.
Aikido however is not purely meant for self-defense purpose, but also for the goal of self-improvement. Aikido is the way to live our lives, to cultivate our minds and physical bodies to overcome the various "attacks" - the challenges in life. Training in Aikido will help one to possess a calm characteristic, a positive state of mind, an upright posture, as well as a physically healthy body. It is a focus for Aikido to maintain "physical centre", which is in fact a psychological way to train our minds in focusing and calming. Similar with other martial arts, Aikido trains our awareness, balance, timing, reflexes, as well as our spirits. Through Aikido training, we come closer to our better selves.
With the belief that everyone should live in harmony, there are no tournaments, competitions, contests, or sparring in Aikido. All Aikido techniques and training are practised in controlled spaces with cooperativeness from both the attacker (uke) and the defender (nage). The goal of Aikido, according to O'Sensei, is to defeat the negative characteristics which inhabit one's own mind and which dampen its functioning.
However, do not mistake Aikido as "ineffective". The use of Aikido as a means of physical self-defence should not be undermined. This is due to the fact that Aikido techniques may create serious injuries, and hence are forbidden to be practised carelessly or in the form of "competitions". Proper execution of Aikido techniques with proper timing and distancing will lead us on the way to self-defence.
It is worth noting that there are no shortcuts to proficiency in Aikido, both in technique and in philosophy. Constant training in the right direction with attentive guidance is the only proper way to excel in Aikido.