Akido is a Japanese martial art for anyone & it uses physics for successful defense,
Aikido: the Art of Defense
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) joined philosophy and martial art training to create a
new, dynamic martial art called Aikido, which utilizes physics to use the force of an
attacker in a manner that turns an attack back on the assailant. The method requires very little energy from the Aikido user in comparison to other forms, yet produces a powerful defense that exceeds standard blocking.
Creation & Definition
Aikido was originally designed during the Second World War by Ueshiba and joined the ranks of recognized Japanese martial arts in 1942. Ueshiba was trained in multiple martial art disciplines (from Sumo wrestling to Judo) and personally endeavored toward spiritual enlightenment.
During his quest to spiritually reach a higher plane by following a sect of the Shinto religion, Ueshiba began combining sword technique and free-hand technique in a manner promoting less harm during self-protection. The essence of balance shows throughout the practice of the art of Aikido.
Aikido means harmony or peace. An extended translation would be to keep the balance of body with the balance of the spirit. In short, Aikido does not emphasize aggression and does not meet force with force; it joins a force so that when it follows the line of the aggressor's movement the consequence is only upon the aggressor. Nothing would happen to a person crossing the skilled Aikido practitioner's path, unless that other person were to exert an aggressive force. Even then, the consequence upon the attacker is minimal, because relatively little to no new force is added to the circumstance by the use of Aikido techniques.
That Ueshiba was a weak boy in his youth frames the appropriate backdrop for his creation of Akido: an individual of any size, gender or physical ability can master this form and has many styles to choose from. Akido is an ever evolving art adapting to the reality of the user's ability, common attacks that may occur and the adoption of other arts integrated into the basic Aikido principles.
When attacked, the Aikido defender ("Tori" in Japanese) is reactive to the movement of the attack, be it a wrist grab-pull, a shove or attempted punch. The attacker in Japanese is called "Uke," one determined to do harm.
The amount of aggressive force Uke puts into the attack in the direction of the Tori defender is the key to this particular type of defense. Note the sequential components or "waza" of Aikido:
1. only responding when an attack attempts to breach the threshold of a person's personal bubble (called "ma-ai" distance)
2. then, as an attack relies on reaching a target, the first response is avoidance of the assault itself
3. moving to avoid in a line tangent to (rather than contrary to) the line of attack places the Uke in a state of imbalance (as there is no target bracing the attacker after movement was executed)
4. if the assailant is still physically touching the Tori defender, a purposeful movement or two can guide the off-balance Uke farther into the original line of attack and, so, fall -- but with no more force than the attacker exerted
The movement of avoidance and gentle attack by the Tori defender follows some basic principles as described by Nick Lowry in his book on Akido: Principles of Kata & Randoori (1998):
• moving from the center of the body (the core) to maintain self balance
• un-bendable arm -- a straight arm with only a slight bend in the elbow, palm up
• same arm, same foot movement to maximize available power
A wise attacker will cease after this first failed attack and realize that his or her initial anger-inspired, adrenalin-fueled action (or purposeful, planned attack against an intended victim) is not enough against the defender, even if that person appeared to be helpless or weak.
If, however, wounded pride gets the better of the Uke attacker, another forceful action may be directed at the Tori defender. This time, though, the seasoned Aikido Tori is alert to another possible attack and so can behave more proactively in chess-like moves against similar or different attacks. Always, however, no response attacks are launched by the Aikido practitioner, only avoidance culminating in an off balance attacker and gentle guiding moves allowing the balance to be totally lost. The amount of energy expended remains mainly in the hands of the Uke attacker, but this energy is directed by the movement of the Tori defender. An injury suffered is often only upon the original attacker, but even then is far less than an injury that could be expected from a force-against-force martial art or even regular, run of the mill, street fighting.
Aikido does not teach harm to others, but rather to remain at peace with one's own energy and the surrounding energy even when a surrounding energy is directed against the Aikido user. Any form of Aikido taught makes a user capable of defending, whether from a weakened state, sitting position, standing position and even against a weapon wielding assailant. Only those who intend harm in a given battle are harmed. It is in line with the goal of the creator of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba: for each individual to be capable of living peaceably amidst the reality of a harsh, sometimes violent reality.
•Lowry, N. (1998) Aikido: Principles of Kata and Randori, 6th ed. Oklahoma City:12 Winds Publishing.
•Aikido Journal Encyclopedia, created & maintained by Stanley Pranin http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=324
•Bob Davis Karate (2011) Aikido lessons from Tom Fish & individual training by Bill Ashbery.
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Mary Thankam Walker Originally Posted on Mar 15, 2011 to Suite 101