Posted on by Andrew Barron
The Essence of Aikido is Contained in a Handshake
Aikido is formed from three kanji. “Ai” is the unifying, or combining, the “Ki” as the spirit, or energy, and the “Do” a way, or a path.
In 99% of situations if one were to extend a hand to another, that person would extend theirs, and both parties would shake. A sincere and meaningful handshake requires the two hands to blend without a competition for dominance ensuing. There would be no tugging or tightening of grip, but rather a mutual blending (the Ai) of respect and a spirit (the Ki) that would be sensed by both to allow the opportunity for a mutually positive way/outcome (Do).
One theory on the origin of the handshake ritual was that by using the right hand, which was considered the dominant and therefore the holder of a weapon, that the possibility of attack was diminished and safe verbal discourse could follow. However, in the application of the shake one might recognize varying degrees of competition or power play.
A handshake is an analogy of the philosophy of aikido as it is similar to the blending of nage and uke as a demonstration of peaceful respect and trust as each take turn performing and receiving the technique as they progress along their path in the art.
It is possible to categorize various partners in both life, and aikido in the handshake; there are the Crushers, the Tuggers, and the Unifiers or Blenders.
The Crusher attempts to establish dominance by powerful and painful grip to demonstrate power over the other.
The Pullers draw one in towards them to demonstrate control by reducing the “maai” (Interval or engagement distance) to create a perceived advantage or dominance in the interaction.
The Unifier or Blender, however demonstrates respect for peace of the individuals by using neither force or power that allows both parties to communicate without feeling forced, or unsafe in any manner but rather to bridge an offer for the other to cross.
The philosophical essence, and goal of Aikido, is to become a Blender for the mutual exploration of respect which is the same as a sincere handshake.