” True Victory is Victory Over Oneself “
One must first learn to control oneself before attempting to harmonize and control others. Without a good balance and control of oneself, one can neither avoid an attack nor apply an effective technique on others. It is through self-control that one can learn to enjoy a harmonious way of life.
Principle of Oneness
In order to harmonize with the laws of nature, we must first learn to develop and maintain the right attitude of training. We must always keep the attitude of becoming one with every situation. This is an attitude of respect for all things at all times. Regardless of the situation, friend or foe, one must always be ready to harmonize. The right attitude greatly affects the efficiency of the action. It is not how strong, but rather how correct you are that counts. This concept of oneness will make it possible for anyone regardless of age or sex to perform the arts efficiently.
Principle of Circular Motion
The spiritual circle is the foundation of all Aikido techniques. Circular movement synthesizes everything and can freely resolve all problems. The innermost study of the circular motion is to develop new techniques from the center of the circle. Aikido techniques are combinations of circular movements. Regardless of the ways the opponent attacks, linear or angular, a circular motion centered at your lower abdomen, hara, will naturally blend with the attack so that you can execute a controlling art with efficiency. The centripetal force will draw the opponent into your range of effectiveness so that the centrifugal force can eject him effectively. All circular motions are preceded by a spiritual circle. The spiritual circle is the circle drawn within one’s mind before the execution of the physical circle.
Range of Effectiveness
The best way to defend yourself against an attack is to get out of the opponent’s range of effectiveness. You can step off the line of force, move out of the opponent’s radius of reach or step inside of the circle of attack. However, in order to be able to control an attacker, one must remain well within his/her own range of effectiveness at the same time he/she is moving out of the attacker’s range of effectiveness. Barely reaching the attacker will not give the defender full advantage for he/she will be over extended and off balance. Being too close to the attacker could also hinder one’s effectiveness. Depending on the situation, one must learn to realize the range of effectiveness of that moment.
Principle of Ki
Ki is the force behind all things. Everything in the universe has Ki. Ki is the essence of our world. It is the basis of all matter, every phenomenon, emotion, sense, direction, will, consciousness and conscience. Ki is also an energy which can be very useful in our daily lives when used properly. Ki is our life force which keeps us alive. Ki is the binding force of our mind and body. We can be very efficient if we unify our mind and body. However, it is rather difficult to maintain the oneness of mind and body throughout our daily lives without something to bind them together. As electricity keeps the computer and the robot working together, Ki keeps the mind and the body working in oneness.
The 7 Mysteries
Seven Mysteries are some of the inner workings of Aikido. They have their origins in Nature and seem to be limitless in their depth. The more you train in them, the more there is to learn. They are endless mysteries. They can be seen in the animal world. When you watch a nature program on TV, or your own pets, look carefully and you will see some of these mysteries in action.
CALM IN ACTION
Inside any powerful movement, like a cyclone, there is a calm centre. In Aikido, to move powerfully you must remain calm and be totally relaxed. Even when there is no movement at all, your calm awareness should be fully active. Try this: In a noisy classroom, or when tempers are fraying at home or in the playground, be calm and extend your calm to fill the whole space. See what happens.
The energy that moves the Universe is known in Japan as Ki. It is known in other countries by other names – in India it is prana, in China it is chi, in the Pacific Islands it is mana, to the Australian aborigines it is djang or wunggud. Ki is inside the forces that hold atoms together and spin them around. So small, it is infinitely softer than air and infinitely more flowing than water, but it is the power that moves the whole universe. Ki is very magical because it responds to your intention, your ‘ki-extension’, so you must always be 100% positive in your techniques and your life. Your ‘ki-extension’ is used in Aikido techniques, when you extend your ki-awareness and become sensitive to uke’s movements. Ki-extension has also been used by healers for centuries to give healing touch. Sleep rebuilds your Ki. So sleep well!
Your Centre is situated a few centimetres below your belly button, inside your body. It is the place where you mentally focus your Ki, and when you want to move powerfully you move from this Centre. When your movement spins (tenkan), it should spin from Centre like a cyclone or a spinning top. When your movement enters (irimi), you should move from your Centre like a powerful avalanche or tsunami – straight through.
Like a flock of birds or a school of fish that turn at the same moment, Blending means you are so sensitive to uke’s ki that you can move at the same moment. When you become aware of your own Ki, you will also be able to sense uke’s Ki. Then your techniques will become softer and more powerful at the same time. Like the water in a creek that flows calmly, smoothly over everything in its path – rocks, sand or even a waterfall. Water and air are so soft that they blend with everything in their paths, but they can also become tsunamis and cyclones.
Ma’ai is the body language that you must learn to read so that you can stay at a safe distance from an attacker or any danger. A small danger needs only short ma’ai. A great danger needs a long ma’ai. When you can sense uke’s Ki you will be able to ‘keep ma’ai’ naturally. Keeping ma’ai is not running away. It is staying in control. Can you catch a butterfly easily? A butterfly is so small and has no weapons at all, but it doesn’t run away. It is in control of the situation. It is so calm. It is so Blended. It is a Master of Ma’ai.
Ki’ai is a natural ki-filled warning shout, like a dog’s bark or the roar of a lion . It can be a call for help, but anyone who hears it can feel the power (the ki) in it. It is not empty. It is filled with Ki. Listen to how a dog barks.
Ukemi is the art of safe falling. Aikido rolls are not the same as somersaults that you might learn in gym or at circus training. They are a special roll to protect your head and body from injury at high speeds. We fall many times in our lives – off bikes and horses, out of trees etc. Ukemi has already saved many people from serious injuries and death. It is a lifeskill. It is also part of Aikido technique, and is much more than just falling. Uke (the one who rolls) must learn to get straight back up onto their feet in a flowing way. The Founder of Aikido always encouraged his students to take ukemi ‘like a cat’, and to return to their feet lightly and ready for anything. Watch how a cat falls.