Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Approaching the Spirit of Aikido

By Giorgos Sardelis, Aikicosmos editor
There are three stages of mastering aikido: the physical (somatically), the psychological and finally the spiritual. Starting from continues repetition of the forms, one builds oneself until the moment - after a long and sincere training - that the technique and ultimately the art will fulfill entirely his/her existence. 

"Aikido is ai (love). You make this great love of the Universe your heart, 
and then you must make your own mission the protection and love of all things. 
To accomplish this mission must be the true budo. 
True budo means to win over yourself and eliminate the fighting heart of the enemy… 
No, it is a way to absolute self-perfection in which the very enemy is eliminated. 
The technique of aiki is ascetic training and a way through which you reach
 a state of unification of body and spirit by the realization of the principles of Heaven."
~ Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido Kaiso ~

At the heart of aikido’s spirit lies the aiki; the ideal unity of ki and soku and thus breath-power (kokyu-ryoku) is most enhance. 

The marvellous functioning of ki originates in the subtle variations of breath; this is the Generative Principle. It is the essential principle of love that manifests martial valour. In accordance with the marvellous functioning of ki, body and mind are unified. When aikido is practiced, the subtle variations of breath flow through one’s being and allow one to manifest techniques in total freedom.
~ Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, Aikido Kaiso ~

Ki is the source of life forcethe principle of life that pervades all forms of existence. Ki is the life form of the universethe primordial source of all vital power. Soku is the core of breath, indispensable for life. Thus, ki and soku cannot be thought separately. Through sincere and dedicated training according to aikido principles, one strives to unify ki-mind-body in order to generate powerful flow of energy. O-Sensei called this mind-set nen.

In aikido the ultimate goal is the unification of flowing ki-mind-body as one. When one harmonizes mind, body and ki and links oneself to the universe, unlimited power is generated and ki is projected (hoki). Harmony (wago) in aikido means both the connection with cosmos (the universal) and to blend with a partner (particular). Harmony may not be equality rather a balanced connection, achieved with a certain rhythm, according to the laws of nature. In human body heartbeats, air and blood circulate in rhythm. In nature the movement of the planets, the day and the night have rhythm. All have a rhythm that corresponds to the rhythm of the entire creation.

“The subtle working of ki is the maternal source that affects delicate changes in breath. It is also the source of martial art as love. When one unifies mind and body by virtue of ki and manifests aiki [harmony of ki], delicate changes in breath-power occur spontaneously and waza [proper technique] flows freely.
The change in breath, connected with the ki of the universe, interacts and interpenetrates with all of life. At the same time the delicate breath-power enters into all corners of one’s body. Entering deeply, it fills one with vitality, resulting naturally in variegated, dynamic, spontaneous movements. In this way the whole body, including internal organs, becomes united in heat, light and power. Having accomplished unification of mind and body and being in ones with the universe, the body moves at will offering no resistance to one’s intentions.
The delicate changes in breath cause subtle movements of ki in the void. Sometimes movements are fierce and potent, at other time slow and stolid. By such changes one can discern the degree of concentration or unification of mind and body. When concentration permeates mind and body, breath-power becomes one with the universe, gently and naturally expanding to the utter limit, but at the same time the person becomes increasingly self-contained and autonomous. In this way when breath works together with the universe, the unseen spiritual essence becomes a reality within oneself, enfolding and protecting and defending the self. This is an introduction to the profound essence of aiki.”
~ Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, Aikido Kaiso ~

One’s ki should be gathered at seika tanden, the body’s psycho-physiological centre, two inches below the navel. This centre is a vital still point from where breath expands circularly wider and wider linking each and every individual to the cosmic breath of life (enten). In movement, the essence of aikido technique lies in free circular flow movement (enryu) around this centre and stillness within movement (sumikiri) is generated like the centre of spinning top, which appears still. However like the spinning top, one must connect one’s entire existence with the earth and link it with the core of the universe. 

All and each techniques of aikido must be in accord with the laws of the universe, otherwise will be against the love-creating martial art of take-musu [martial-creative]. O-Sensei said that aikido is takemusu.

"The vitality of echoing of the body and the resonance 
of the universe nurture the subtle working of ki 
and give birth to take-musu ai-ki, 
the martial art that is love and love 
that is none other than martial art"
~ Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, Aikido Kaiso ~

"Morihei called his martial way takemusu, 'Valorous and Creative Living'. 
He wanted Aikido practitioners to train to develop and foster the life force, 
the generative force, and the harmonizing force; he wanted all his students 
to become 'spiritually strong with hearts full of great harmony and great love"
~ Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido Nidai Doshu ~  

"The Founder of Aikido often described Aikido as the 'The Way of Love and Protection of All Things'; that is the guiding spirit of Aikido and that is the spirit with which we must train"
~ Moriteru Ueshiba, Aikido Sandai Doshu ~ 

The Art of Aikido: Principles and Essential Techniques by Kisshomaru Ueshiba (Kodansha)
The Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba (Kodansha)
Best Aikido, The Fundamentals by Kisshomaru Ueshiba & Moriteru Ueshiba (Kodansha)
The Aikido Master Course, Best Aikido 2 by Moriteru Ueshiba (Kodansha)
Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba (Kowado)