New Aiki Classes

To attract people to aikido from a world that has filled people’s hearts and minds with many fears of the covid year. No matter what that world is like, they can achieve a peaceful place through aiki.
First the teacher needs to know what it is and what it can offer . and it needs to be presented differently to the old ways.
Key elements might be.
Practical techniques.
Body fitness for purpose, which does not mean big muscles but accessing the ones we have.
Relaxed connectedness for finding whole body power. (Using your mind !!!)
Developing a mindset that is actually useful to you, non-confrontational but still powerful.
Understanding your limitations as regards self-defence.
Knowing the difference between self-defence, self-awareness, and following the way of a martial art.
Ki exercises that will amaze you with their effortless power.
Spatial awareness.
Awareness of intent, body language. Neutral postures, non-judgement and its value.
Finding the peace within self and moving with confidence.
Discovering the reality of the world outside and acting appropriately. (Where to sit or stand within a space, light, doors etc zanshin)
Avoiding conflict, verbally, posturally and by where you go and when.
Health defence is also self-defence.
Develop the core principles rather than focus on techniques. The exercises you start with, and develop the principles, are far more important than the techniques.
Systema and Tai chi last a life time, so does Aikido. The older teacher is an example of benefits. They haven’t had to retire at middle age.

Just my thinking. But how you get people through the door I don’t know because everyone seems to think these days that they are entitled to protection and don’t need to act for themselves. ‘The, you can’t touch me syndrome.’
Well they damn well can . so better do something. Richard

Ki or Chi . . . extension and its value.

If you disagree with what I write, you might contemplate on how we all only do our best with what we think at the time.

I have read somewhere that Ki is not necessarily the same as the chi as in tai chi, but for our purpose here it will be, because the so called internal or soft arts have similar principles.

Perhaps you might consider this:-  Aikido at its heart is not the manipulation of the physical but victory over self in avoiding the physical.

If you can feel your own power ... so can they. Your true power, and great it is, emanates from the use of your mind.  Expanding ki requires relaxation  ... if there is no relaxation of the big active muscles, then the attacker feels the attack in a way that they can counter (if allowed by dojo or style rules).

Extending ki is important in all directions and not just in one or two as you might feel in ‘unbendable arm’, then the body is unified and has optimum power.  However, this power comes from the muscles joining in willingly and not being coerced into working. Done correctly you won’t feel them working but will realise their effect.

Respect the energy of the attacker, harmonise, reduce your own tensions in order to extend ki. Relaxed but extending your spirit energy outwards you generate power but retain the opportunity of speed.

Any exercises carried out for aikido practise should engage consciousness, or you miss an opportunity to develop the mind / body connection.

 

Even at home, perhaps reading this, a beginning exercise is to sit in chair and explore the space around you – with your mind, be centred and relax outwards, put no limit on how far you believe you can reach with your mind .... be balanced, all directions, always. Do not be afraid of using your imagination.

Be sensitive ... attitudes like caring, allow this to manifest your power and subtle influence to neutralise an attack  ...  wanting to defeat the other is counter to the spirit of aikido   ... it’s why the art is so difficult.

Many will not choose this advice, some because they don’t quite understand, some because they don’t want to. Perhaps some though have already moved beyond this level.

If your mind set is to conflict with others and that you can beat your attacker ... you have already thrown away your sensitivity to change and it is unlikely you will find the magical takemusu moment ...  something that appears without plan or intention, out of nowhere ... but only if you are aware.

It’s hard to find something if you don’t look for it . . . unless of course you are exceptionally gifted with luck.

Should this be in our aikido too?

Respect your partner’s ki (don’t interfere with their chosen direction), don’t become the attacker, cause no harm and, ‘the enemy is within ourselves’ not in the attacker. None of the above are signs of weakness but properly employed enable great power to be manifested, a power used not to destroy an enemy but to save a misguided soul from harm. If you think this is nuts then check out O-Sensei, Tohei, and modern teachers like Paul Linden. None of them hurt their partners, it looks like some teachers today, do. If we want to have harmony of spirit and be one with the universal, we might have to consider this in daily life, because on the mat we dispense with engaging verbally with our partner (attacker for want of better word). Instead of ‘sorry pal if I have upset you, how can I put it right with you?’ we immediately escalate to a staged violent confrontation and use our aikido to teach them a lesson! We all end up with an opinion and then seek evidence that supports it, but only by questioning and leaving our comfort zone will we progress towards the peaceful art of aikdo – an art to reconcile the world. What do you think? Richard Small
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So, what is your version of aikido?

Can we agree? Did O-Sensei change his martial way as he developed during his lifetime? Did he make an enlightening discovery that changed how he viewed life itself? Did he try and tell us that the enemy was within and that his dream was that aikido could reconcile the world in peace?
Can we reconcile the world in peace by ‘beating’ other people? Highly unlikely, so there must have been another way. One who never conflicts is ultimately invincible.
That does not mean you have no power nor that you will lose … it is the method which counts. If you can stop a violent attacker with a few gentle words then I ask you, who is it that is most powerful?
From my observation of various teachers, I see basically three types.
One. Those who brutally enforce aikido technique on a willing attacker that offers a signalled or arranged attack and who will need to gymnastically comply, or they will be hurt. Such practitioners would severely injure an attacker who does not have advanced ukemi skills. So, can this be O-Sensei’s aikido?
Two. Those who have weak technique and insist that the uke complies willingly. Because of the compliance it outwardly appears to be O-Sensei’s aikido, but is it?
Three. Those rare people that, regardless of the attack or that the uke resists or is allowed to block technique, are sensitive enough within their own being to feel where the attacker is willing to go … to their own defeat. Through victory over their enemies within, these practitioners are never blocked by uke who is never able to realise what is happening to them. Uke fails in their attack without knowing how or why and is unharmed . . . regardless of their physical abilities.

To achieve O-Sensei’s aikido was difficult, even with him present and trying to share his art with the best students around at the time, few if any understood. I suspect that some had the gift of knowing but didn’t teach it, for others it was an impossible ask to relearn a lifetime of habits but that the principles of aikido (not it’s applied techniques but the techniques of application) were what Tohei mastered, even if few of his students did. Unless we look at the principles O-Sensei tried to share with us and forget the shaped practical techniques as being real aikido then we can’t share his dream. We might become impressive artists but that is where it would stop. Improvement comes from giving up something not seeking more.
Only my opinion but based on some experience that taught me there was another way.
It is the enemy within that you must defeat, that is the true purpose of aikido, only then it can reconcile the world in peace. The shame is for O-Sensei’s grand dream, that it was far too easy, perhaps even for his family, to ignore this life changing challenge.
What do you think are the enemies within, can we overcome them?

Don’t buy this book by Richard Small

Tai Chi and Aikido – exploring pathways beyond choreography.
I’ve written a fairly readable and informative book of about 220 pages that covers tai chi and aikido in equal amounts. It’s a book that contains advice, sometimes in story form, about both arts. You may observe the differences or similarities yourself. It contains ideas for practise and thought and is the culmination of collected wisdoms from over forty years practise. You don’t need to buy one. You can check out what it looks like on Amazon for free then contact the author and he will post you a free copy. No catch, the aim is to share and not die with any would be secrets still intact. Contact Richard if you are interested. Don’t buy from Amazon!
TAI CHI AND AIKIDO: EXPLORING PATHWAYS BEYOND CHOREOGRAPHY