Morihei Uyeshiba discovered the principles of Aikido as most modern of Japan’s martial arts.

Its outstanding feature is that it made a great leap from the traditional physical arts to a spiritual art, from a relative martial art to an absolute art, and from a spiritual martial art that seeks to abolish conflict.  When anyone speaks of  “myself” he nearly always means “my physical self of existence.”  He knows that his body has weight and shape.  Through his five senses of sight, smell, taste, hear, and touch, he is always conscious of his physical self.  By contrast, his mind has neither color nor form.  We can wash our faces each morning, but how many of us wash our minds as well?  Precious few.  There are many people who train their minds, and like the body, it becomes soiled if it is not cleansed and weak if it is not strained.

Another important factor is that the mind rules the body.  It is the mind that leads, and the body that follows.  Aikido realized this truth and teaches that before you attempt to move the body, you must first use your mind.  When you are trying to throw your opponent, and before you move his body, you must first lead his mind.  Attempting to throw your opponent by brute force alone and you will find it heavy to do.  Remember, the mind has neither weight nor volume, and that a large set man does not necessarily mean he has a heavy mind.  If the art of leading the mind is learned and mastered, even a woman or child can easily defeat a larger man.

After seeing an Aikido exhibition for the first time, the usual reaction for the most part is to assume that the performance is not realistic.  Common sense will tell you that it is not real.  The trouble with common sense is that it considers the body as its central figure and derives only half the knowledge of common sense, thus not seeing the work of the mind.  Only with knowledge of working with both mind and body can one know the truth.  And for the first time will Aikido’s art be grasped.  Arguing the point is useless.  The only way to understand Aikido is to get down to real practice.

In most martial arts, an enemy is put up and the training is aimed at learning to defend him.  In Aikido, the aim is not to conquer the enemy, but to conquer one’s self.  This is the way Aikido is said to have leaped from the material, physical art to a spiritual martial art.

Heaven and Earth are one. Mastering anyone of the martial arts means obedience to the absolute Laws of Heaven and Earth, or Nature.  If you can truly understand and obey the Laws of Nature and carry out her dictates you become an integral part of Nature and anyone who attacks you will be attacking the forces of Nature herself.

There is no one who can hope to prevail against Nature’s Laws.  To defeat an opponent is a relative victory.  There is always a day coming when the victor of today becomes the vanquished of tomorrow.  Become then a part of Nature; strive to grow in it and with it.

Men of old said, “Do not blame others nor hate them.  Be afraid only of your lack of sincerity.”  In Aikido, seek not to be strong but to be just, nor victory over an enemy but victory over self through correct principles.

If you can add polish to polish your art, there will be no need to strive unduly to defeat an opponent. He himself will obey you and you will find yourself without an opponent.  And you will understand then that Aikido has indeed made a leap from a physical martial art to a spiritual martial art.

The world today is full of conflicts and this has led us to the brink of annihilation.  Conflict will never cease so long as mankind is convinced that his is a world of discord and that anyone who refuses to fight loses social status.  If we sincerely wish for world peace, each individual must nurture within himself the spirit of non-aggression.

In Aikido, every art was designed in obedience to the Laws of Nature so that there is no strain in its execution.  Obey the Laws of Nature in all your movements and win; disobey and lose. Let your opponent go where he wants to go; let him return where he wants to bend as you lead him, and then let him fall where he wants to fall.  There is no need to strain you unduly.  You can try to turn back stream, but you will has to use brute force to do it. How much easier is it to honor the power of the stream and lead it wherever you wish.

Again, if a rock weighing a hundred pounds was falling directly towards you, it would be a tremendous defeat to try to stop it with your bare hands.  But it instead of trying to catch it and you nimbly step aside, the rock drops to the ground without doing you any harm.  Even with a rock weighing a thousand pounds would be just as easy to avoid.  There is a limit to what you can accomplish by physical force, but there is training on how to use an opponent’s own strength to lead him.  To the degree that the feeling of contention disappears, your technique progresses.  Women, children, and older men can practice Aikido with ease and develop amazing strength. For this reason, Aikido can be called the “the non-fighting martial art.”

Aikido is not merely an art of self-defense, but within its techniques and movements are woven elements of philosophy, psychology and dynamics.  As you learn the various arts, you will train your mind, at the same time improve your health and develop an unbreakable self-confidence.

Today, Aikido is spreading rapidly to all parts of the world because people everywhere seem to be able to understand and put its principles into practice.  “I shall count myself fortunate if this will serve to lead those who wish to study Aikido into taking the first step by registering at a ‘DOJO’.” (Tohei, Koichi, “What is Aikido,” pp. 17-19)


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