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.

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.