Aikido is a meaningful physical, psychological, spiritual and transformational practice.
“The purpose of Aikido is not to create aggressive fighters but to refine wisdom and self- control. As a student of Aikido, you must study to improve and polish yourself, not to compete with others. The key to this process - and the heart of aikido - is musubi or harmonious interaction. Musubi, as it is refined, can mean the ability to control and alter interaction, changing a hostile approach to a healthy encounter or an attack into a handshake.”
Mitsugi Saotome Shihan
Here is more information on the benefits of Aikido training.
Aikido is a practical martial art and an effective form of self-defense. You learn to defend against one or multiple attackers, knives, staff and sword. In ASU (Aikido Schools of Ueshiba) you also study multiple weapons forms as handed down to us by Saotome Sensei. You learn to use staff, sword, and even two sword paired forms.
As a study of physical movement, Aikido teaches you body and spatial awareness. Although there is no competition, matches or sparring in aikido practice, it can be physically and mentally challenging. Partners learn to train in ways that maintain safety and avoid injury, but that challenge each other and promote growth. The ideal is to peacefully resolve conflict, yet as martial artists we always strive to be in a position to take advantage of an attacker’s openings as needed.
Aikido practice is a form of functional training improving mind-body coordination that applies to activities of everyday life. It emphasizes natural movement and uses minimal effort to execute techniques. This practice reduces muscle tension and increases freedom of movement. Aikido training can improve your performance in competitive and recreational sports. Its focus on balance and safe falling helps avoid injuries on and off the mat.
Training in Aikido improves physical conditioning, and helps develop balance, flexibility and coordination. Falling down and getting up repeatedly during class teaches you the ability to easily regain equilibrium and develops physical resilience. Then, taking someone else’s balance provides you a study of connected yet independent movement, maintaining your balance while guiding a partner.
Aikido’s movements are graceful and fluid and can be practiced by anyone at any age. Individual progress can be made no matter your level of physical ability. In fact, it often becomes a continually evolving life-long physical study. Because of the multi-faceted nature of Aikido practice, many students experience improved energy levels and sense of well-being on this fulfilling path.
Connections between good physical and mental health have been well established in the fields of neuroscience, psychology and medicine. Similar to developing awareness and freedom of movement, Aikido practice contributes to psychological insight and flexibility.
Aikido practice fosters self-reflection and greater awareness of social interactions. In the process of learning and applying Aikido techniques with your partner, you learn about yourself, including your response to others and conflict.
Through Aikido training, you can find the skills and the confidence to positively approach every day conflicts. Refining your reaction to stress and pressure in physical training can help adapt reactions to challenges in life and relationships with others. This practice can contribute to developing confidence and a positive self-image.
In Aikido you train not to panic but see the situation clearly and calmly respond with an aim toward mutual benefit. Exploring stressful situations, while staying focused and committed to resolution, you can develop greater mental resilience and adaptability.
We learn a variety of techniques and principles of movement, while working with different people in a range of situations. That kind of training fosters creativity and problem solving skills.
The longer we practice, the deeper the effect on our emotional self, potentially increasing our empathy and emotional intelligence. The demanding mutual practice of attack and response between partners develops these qualities. Gradually with continuous training we are tuned to our partner’s movement, finding a harmonious path, creating a sense of connection and understanding of one another.
Development of awareness, confidence, resiliency, adaptability, creativity and empathy are all community values and contribute to growing effective leadership abilities. In this way, Aikido can make a meaningful impact on your community and the broader society beyond changes on a personal level.
BENEFITS EXTEND TO THE WIDER COMMUNITY
Aikido is a martial art offering a path to personal transformation touching on all aspects of who you are and how you relate to others. You may start with an interest in self- defense skills, exercise, and social activities. But the practice can offer considerably more and lead to a life-long study that transforms how you learn, developing a growth mindset and attitude of receptivity.
Aikido is much more than just an intellectual study of principles. The practice allows you to viscerally feel them in your body. By physically blending and unifying with your partner and resolving conflict without force, you can develop an understanding that cooperation and harmony are not weak but are actually very powerful.
Learning to calmly face attacks from a variety of training partners who may be bigger or stronger than you, trusting in your ability, helps foster an embodied confidence in one’s own integrity. This supports our ability to face and work against forces that may be limiting our access to equity and self expression.
Training in an Aikido dojo is different from belonging to a gym. Aikido dojos offer strong communities, based on the nature of the practice, social events, seminars and travel. By training, you become part of a worldwide group of practitioners, seeking to better themselves and contribute to a more peaceful society. In that way, the practice can become a powerful antidote to isolation.
These experiences allow us to become leaders that are motivated by mutual benefit and harmony in the world rather than discord. This journey begins as we develop our awareness of self and others, our interactions with training partners and the larger dojo community. These connections can lead us forward to relationships with increased social consciousness and allow the opportunity to have a positive contribution to the wider global community.
"Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals." Martin Luther King Jr.
A PDF of this document may be found here: Benefits of Aikido Training