- Peace & Harmony – Dealing with conflict through harmonization and promoting peace in daily life.
- Balance & Centeredness – Finding our way to a point of physical, emotional and mental stability from which difficulties can be faced with acceptance instead of fear.
- Mindfulness – Being in the Now. Meditative awareness of the present moment without judgement.
- Beginner’s Mind – Being “ready for anything, open to everything”.
- Life Force (Ki/Chi) awareness – exploration of the internal arts.
“Let us have a Universal Mind that loves and protects all creation and helps all things grow and develop. To unify mind and body and become one with the Universe is the ultimate purpose of our study” -Koichi Tohei Sensei
When used in a self-defence context, Aikido seeks to deal with the situation without causing harm to
the aggressor. Instead of using strength, we flow with gravity and the opponent’s momentum – in this way Aikido is a Way of Peace.
While it is nice to have some skills for defending ourselves from physical attacks, most of us have little, if any, need for it. However, In our modern lives, there are many types of conflicts that we regularly experience. These can take the form of difficulties in interpersonal situations and with the environment around us in work or family life, as well as conflicts we experience within ourselves when we try to cope with feelings such as stress, anxiety or anger. For most of us, this is where Aikido practice is most useful – the application of the Way of Peace to our everyday lives.
There are various principles that underlie the practice of Aikido that can be applied to daily living. The techniques practised in our Aikido training provide the means for gaining a profound experience of these principles. They give us feedback on the nature of our mind and body, and guide us to develop a state of being that is able to positively deal with any sort of interpersonal and intrapersonal situations.
- Mind and body unification – When performing Aikido techniques, we aim to take a balanced, centred and relaxed posture, settling our mind into an awareness of the body. When we do this we anchor ourselves in the present moment and focus our awareness in the now. This can have an immediate, calming effect, and frees our mind to allow us to properly address the situation at hand. The process of adopting this posture can be done in any situation, whether it be while standing, having a conversation with someone, or typing on a keyboard while sitting at a desk.
- Acceptance – If we find ourselves in a situation of conflict or disturbance, whether it be with others, the environment, or our own internal feelings, and we resist the reality of the situation by wanting to escape it or wishing it never happened, we add an unnecessary layer of suffering to the situation, that gets in the way of us properly dealing with it. By practising our handling of situations with calm acceptance, as we do when performing our Aikido techniques and peace arts, we cultivate a mindset that is better equipped to overcome the difficulties that we encounter in our daily lives.
- Harmony – Aikido techniques are based on the principle of harmonization. In Aikido training, interpersonal conflict is not dealt with by blocking and fighting. Aikido training teaches instead to let the attack flow past us and to move in a way that neutralizes the attack without us having to clash with the force of an opponent’s attack. Feeling hurt, putting up resistance with a strong defence then trying to hurt the opponent back, is an approach that we can easily find ourselves doing in a non-physical way in situations such as when having an argument with someone. So the more we get used to using harmonization in our Aikido training as a response to conflict when dealing with attacks, the more readily we will think to apply it to other types of conflicts in our lives.
- Beginner’s mind – a state of mind where we are “ready for anything, open to everything”. Preconceived notions and judgements can cause us unnecessary suffering and prevent us from learning and experiencing new things. When we adopt the Beginner’s Mind, we grant ourselves the capacity to learn and grow. Our enjoyment of the simple aspects of life is never tiresome. As the Zen saying goes: “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few”.