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?

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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!

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,
‘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,might.
If we want to have harmony of spirit and be one with the universal we may have to consider this during 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 our own 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.
Richard Small