AIKIDO – Martial art of reconciliation

Aikido (合気道) is a martial art (budo 武道) of conflict resolution, the reconciliation of two opposing forces through harmonizing the self with the principles of nature.

Aikido Mitsugi Saotome sensei calligraphy Aikido Shobukan Dojo

Though many of its techniques derive from daito ryu aiki jujitsu, Aikido is not easily characterized.  Founder Morihei Ueshiba was known to speak quite esoterically, with references to the Kojiki (Japan’s oldest written record, containing myths regarding the origins of Japan) and Japanese cosmology; his classes were occupied by lectures largely incomprehensible to his students.  In one lecture given by O Sensei, he described Aikido as

  • the principle of eternal continuation throughout all ages of the one and same system of the Universe.
  • Heaven-sent truth and the marvelous work of Takemusu Aiki.
  • the Way of union and harmony of Heaven, Earth and humanity.
  • the Way to take care of the entire creation.
  • the supreme work of kotodama [Japanese sacred sounds] and the Great Way of Universal Purification (misogi).
    Those who deeply believe in this Way must serve in the administration of the founding of a Universal Nation.

(From Takemusu Aiki – Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, transcribed by Hideo Takahashi, and translated by Sonoko Tanaka for Stanley Pranin’s Aikido Journal.)

“Aikido teaches a simple secret: the development of a better life is dependent on bettering yourself.  Aikido offers no miracles except the miracle of your own existence and your human potential.  Remember that you are part of the universe.  To ruin your life or to waste it is to ruin a piece of the universe.  With your birth you hold the key that opens the door to heaven.  The most important duty in each person’s life is to use that key and to make his or her life a manifestation of the heaven that it lies within our power to create.”  Mitsugi Saotome, The Principles of Aikido, p. 198-99.

For further reference, please read The Principles of Aikido and Aikido and the Harmony of Nature, by Mitsugi Saotome sensei.