Aikido has been described as “moving Zen.” As with all many arts, while the final aim is one of personal transformation, the focus of the training hall is practical. Hard work and perseverance are an essential part of the path to mastering the fundamentals of posture, movement, timing and breath.
According to O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, “This is not mere theory – you must practice it.”
Aikido training includes both solo and partner practice, and allows each person to work at his or her own level. Participants alternate roles as attacker and receiver. Learning to receive the techniques and take falls safely is an important aspect of training. Whether executing or receiving a technique, an Aikidoist trains to blend with, or “capture” an opponent’s energy and to harmlessly redirect it.
Effectiveness of technique is not dependent on size or strength. Men and women of all ages and walks of life are able to practice Aikido. When the essential elements of an encounter are harmonized, it is the energy of the attack that brings down the opponent.
The rewards of Aikido training include improved stamina, flexibility, balance and muscle tone. It should be remembered, however, that this training is ultimately an encounter with oneself. The student of Aikido seeks to identify and gain control of the ways in which he or she reacts to conflict, and through this, to remain centered in all situations.