©Todd Lachance

Aikido: Way of Harmony

The movements in Aikido are not designed to stop attacks or to conflict with them. The principles of Aikido are such that all movements are allowed to continue and complete themselves. An aikidoist blends with the movement of an attack and redirects it to a conclusion.

Aikido is based on principles of correct movement rather than on strength, it can be practiced by persons of all ages and physical abilities.

Most attacks come in a linear direction. Aikido movements are circular. An aikidoist leads a straight attack in a circular motion thus becoming the center of movement for both bodies. By directing the intent of the attacker in this manner, we say we are 'leading' the person's 'ki' (energy or spirit). This requires a calm, relaxed mind and body and a great deal of self-control. Calmness allows for clear perception of the situation and a relaxed body is capable of swift, instinctive response.

The concept of Ki is important to the practice of Aikido. Specific warm-up exercises and practice of Aikido techniques improve the flow of Ki within our bodies. An increase of inner strength is a major benefit of constant practice. As one continues to practice, improvements are noted in health, flexibility, and self confidence. The body and mind become more coordinated and balanced and the delay between the decision and action is reduced.

The basic Aikido movements are either entering to the safe side of an attack or turning to join with the direction of the attack. The movements are simple in their concept. However, after beginning practice, one discovers how hard it is to coordinate distancing, movement and coordination of the limbs at the same time. Aikido is a sophisticated martial art which requires a great deal of practice to become adept. New students are soon amazed at the countless techniques which are possible with variations and applications on basic movements.

The 1st thing one learns in Aikido is how to fall safely. These important lessons prevent injury during practice. Next, one learns the basic techniques and body movements. Advanced practice includes further techniques and practice to improve perception and intuition.

Aikido movements usually conclude with a throw or an immobilization technique applied to the joints of the hand or arm. While the application of some techniques can be painful, they are not designed to cause permanent injury. Most techniques follow the body's natural movement and the joint manipulations occur in the natural range of motion of the joint. A benefit to practice is improved strength and flexibility of the joints.

While Aikido may appear to be a soft martial art, this is due to the control exercised during execution of the technique. With its wrist locks and atemi (strikes to vital points of the body), the techniques can be performed powerfully if necessary.

Because Aikido is based on principles of correct movement rather than on strength, it can be practiced by persons of all ages and physical abilities. Since there is no competition in Aikido, practice is an enjoyable learning experience.

The principles learned in Aikido can be applied outside the dojo as well. Mentally, the concepts are used to harmonize with family, coworkers, and business relations. Physically, the skills of balance, calmness, flexibility, and fast reflexes can be used in any daily activity.

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