Aikido Principles is not the same as Aikido as a form of “budo.” Both Aikido and Aikido Principles draw on the underlying goal of connecting to a greater universal energy (Ki). And, in both cases, Aikido and Aikido Principles utilize natural archetypes such as spirals, waves, arcs, etc. to achieve this connection. Outside of these underlying elements, there are important contrasts between the two practices.
As a longtime student of Aikido I have nothing but positive things to say about the Art of Peace. It has helped me to evolve as a human being by way of working through my fears and integrating unowned aspects of my ego. However, now that I am in my fifty-ninth year of existence, I find that the rolling and up and down movements of Aikido-budo practice no longer work with my body. My spirit is willing but my body isn’t what it used to be! I suspect there are more than a few former Aikido practitioners who can sympathize. With this in mind, let us look more closely at the distinction between Aikido-budo and Aikido Principles . . .
A central theme in Aikido-budo training is to transcend the fighting arts framework. Aikido-budo practice is often physically challenging and may unintentionally exclude those who are incapable of high levels of physical exercise. Aikido-budo may also turn off people who are uninterested in working within the martial arts paradigm. Lastly this approach, while healing in its own right, can take years to master. Aikido Principles, by contrast, sidesteps such dilemmas altogether. We leave these concerns outside the studio and focus on aligning with our core nature of love and unity. It is this innate core of love and unity that Aikido’s founder, Ueshiba Morihei O Sensei, referred to as Ai. “I decided to call my unique path Aikido, because the words for unity and love are both pronounced Ai.” Our practice brings in Buddhist mindfulness meditation, chakra balancing, Japanese Kotodama sounding, and paired moving meditation derived from our combined years of Aikido training and teaching.
Theresa and I bring fun, humor, and spontaneity into the lessons we teach. Our students report feeling energized and calm after Aikido Principles. Because there is no ranking or testing component in Aikido Principles, there is no underlying feeling of competition or judgment. Each participant is free to explore, define, and promote his or her personal ideal state of thriving. Our job is to provide a container in which thriving is the norm, not the exception to the rule.
The world is changing and people are beginning to wake up to the need to transcend the ego-driven “I Am” in favor of the collective “We Are.” In spite of all the fear driven division in society, the realization that we can take charge of our reality for the better is gaining ground. Theresa and I invite other likeminded souls to connect with each other at Heart Tree Studios. Our little base for thriving people offers a crossroads for a variety of methods: Aikido Principles, Therapeutic Buddhist Psychology, Life Design for Women, and more. We invite you to drop by and add your wisdom to the mix.
Brian Ford, Marriage Family Therapist