An Introduction To Aikido
Training In Aikido
New students to Aikido, especially those who have had no prior martial arts experience, are entering a world of strange customs, new ideas and exciting challenges to both the body and mind.
The early stages of Aikido training will be confusing and frustrating at times. Considering you have just begun training in an ancient Japanese martial art with a group of new acquaintances, it is understandable. It is best to take it slowly relax, and let it come to you gradually. In short, be patient; it will come to you eventually.
Patience is an integral part of Aikido training. It is as important for the black belt as it is for the beginner. In patience we learn many important lessons. We learn respect, self-discipline, and how to do a technique. Even the accuracy of your technique and your timing are directly related to your patience.
Sometimes you will find a technique or a control painful. Remember, your partner is not acting maliciously. It is a part of training. With patience and self-discipline you will not only learn a greater awareness of the technique and how it works, but a greater awareness of yourself in both the body and mind.
It is also important to remember that your fellow students, especially the seniors, are there to help you. If you need help, ask for it. Seniors are obliged to help the juniors. No matter what the problem, ask a senior. He not only knows what you’re going through, but how difficult it can be in the beginning. Don’t expect it to be easy, but don’t think – for one second – that it’s unattainable. Everyone feels a little awkward at the start, and no one stops learning.
So relax and go with the flow. Pretty soon you’ll be doing break-falls, flips and all manner of hand and weapon techniques. You’ll also find yourself developing new friendships that will make each step a little easier to take. Eventually you’ll be the senior and the onus will be upon you to help the beginner. Remember, it takes time and it takes patience.
In Aikido, all movements are based on a force that either pulls the body or pushes the body. The force may come as a grab from the rear or a punch (atemi) to the face. In any case, it is the basic principle of Aikido to move in when pulled, or to pivot away when pushed.
Aikido is not simply some disarranged collection of martial techniques. As the word “Do” implies, it is a highly developed system of techniques. This system is based on the simple principles of circular force applied in harmony with an attacker’s movement, speed and timing. In Aikido you go with the movement, you never fight or resist the movement, whether you are receiving the technique (uke) or performing the technique (shite).
In this way, Aikido redirects the force of the attack until it’s no longer a threat, and weakens the opponent by taking them off balance in the process. In this weakened position, the attacker then becomes susceptible to various forms of controls (ways of directing the attacker to a final pin), or throws (ways of getting rid of the attacker).
In either case, the purpose of training in Aikido should never reflect a malicious attitude towards your partner (or attacker as the case may be). It is only by the grace of your partner and fellow students that your are able to train at all. Train hard, but work together.