The Way of Harmony
Aikido means the way of harmonizing universal energy. It is a way to realize your mental and physical potential and an effective means of self-protection. The goal of Aikido is the enlightenment of the student, not the destruction of the attacker. Aikido teaches awareness of the interaction of mind and body. Unification of the mind, body and spirit is the ultimate purpose of Aikido.
All Aikido movements contain circles and spirals which echo the helical patterns found in nature. In addition to circular movements, Aikido employs blending of action between the aggressor and the defender. The attack is received and redirected into a hold or throw in one continuous movement. The power for this movement is generated from the lower abdomen and legs. It does not rely on upper body strength and muscle. Coordination improves between the left and right sides of the body. Overall health is enhanced.
Greater understanding and even mastery of Aikido requires the internalizing of Aikido principles as well as techniques. These principles are unusual for a martial art: a compassionate attitude towards an attacker, remaining calm in the midst of heated action, and recognizing and reconciling conflicts before they escalate into major problems. This is the approach that differentiates Aikido from the other martial arts. By constant practice and study of Aikido, the art is integrated into life. When you experience this, a glimpse of the true meaning of Aikido can be understood.
The Founder (1889-1969)
Morihei Ueshiba, called O-sensei (great teacher), studied the traditional martial arts of Japan. With mind, body and soul he mastered the sword, spear, and jo (short staff) as well as the empty-handed arts. Yet, even with this mastery, he was dissatisfied with the scope and philosophy of the martial arts. Master Ueshiba felt that the physical techniques alone were not enough. With this in mind, he secluded himself in Ibaraki Prefecture to search for the true meaning of the martial arts. There he founded a shrine dedicated to the spirit of Aiki. It was in the shrine that the Master spent long hours training and performing purifying exercises in the hope of reaching his goal. Through this arduous period, Master Ueshiba began to evolve the principles of Aikido. Rather than focusing on discord and the constant desire to win and dominate, the ideas of harmony and peaceful reconciliation began to emerge.
Through a revelation in the mid 1940s, he found the answer. The essence of Budo, the way of the warrior, was blended with spiritual awareness to create Aikido.
The Aiki shrine in Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan, embodies the spirit of Aikido and serves as its source of inspiration. It was here at Ibaraki Shuren Dojo that O-sensei refined and perfected Aikido. After teaching and traveling throughout Japan, he would return to the dojo shrine for further refinement and study.
Even now, practitioners from all over the world come to the shrine to pay homage to the memory of O-sensei and to revitalize their training in Aikido.