Much of what happens in our lives is largely beyond our control and happens in seemingly random fashion, but we are largely responsible for our behaviour.  It is our intention that determines the course of this.  This is no less true when it comes to practising aikido.  Our intentions are central to the outcomes and to the quality of our training.

It starts even before we enter the dojo, as without the intention to show up, there will be no practise.  I often say to students that one of the biggest lessons that aikido can teach you is just to show up.  When you do, you will make progress.  It won’t always be easy, but it’s especially important to battle through those moments of difficulty, as that’s usually where the most learning is to...

I deliberately placed the title of this article in a weird place and even though it is a deliberate choice, it feels uncomfortable. Balance seems like such a simple word, but it is profound and fundamental to the fabric of the universe.  In our aikido practice, it is essential and is the foundation stone on which everything else balances.

Looking at this from the perspective of the individual, physically, we need to maintain a balanced posture. It is hard to receive or deliver any real power, (I don’t mean physical strength, though it’s true for that too), when you are significantly out of balance. In the Ki Aikido tradition, they employ a wonderful testing system that can show you that you only need to be slightly out of alignment to be knocked...

Understanding your purpose for training in aikido is a basic building block from which everything on your aikido journey flows, including your choice of where to train and with who.  In this age of information technology, you can usually tell from the club website and things like Youtube videos, whether any particular club is for you.  So if you are thinking about training, do your research and make sure that the values and purpose of the teacher’s training are in line with your own.

Motivations for training range hugely from reasons that might be fairly general to those where the training literally guides the life path of the participant.  By way of example:

  • I thought it would be good to get a bit fitter.

  • I need to improve my health...

What is trust?  The dictionary definition is ‘firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.’  Without trust, we would do nothing.  For example, if you did not believe that the ground would continue to support your weight the very next time you took a step, then you would stay just where you were.  Trust allows us to move forward in the reasonable expectation that our well-being will not be compromised.  This is a vital component in life as without it, how would we grow?

In a very literal sense, if we never moved, then all we would know of the world, would be what we could see, hear, smell and feel in that particular spot.  Of course, we might read books, watch television or look at things on the in...

It is common when you start aikido to think that nearly all the learning is to be gained from performing the techniques.  So taking ukemi is simply a necessary evil, allowing your partner the opportunity to have their turn.  Of course, this is completely false.  The roles of uke and nage are simply two sides of the same coin.  You cannot have one without the other and there is just as much too learn in either role, (though if you pinned me up against a wall and forced me to toss that coin in the air, I would actually say that the role of uke teaches you more).

Given its importance then, it is surprising how little emphasis is placed on teaching ukemi in most classes.  Think for a moment about all the classes and seminars that you h...

Aikido (合氣道) is a modern Japanese martial art that originates from a traditional system of combat, namely Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu. It was created by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) and although he constantly kept evolving and refining his technique and philosophy, aikido took the form as we recognise it today in the last few years of the founder’s life.

Aikido was defined as “The Art of Peace” by the founder himself, and the three Japanese characters that comprise its name (Ai-Ki-Do/The Way of Aiki) can either be translated as, the way of harmony, or the way of harmonising with the will of the opponent, or, more philosophically speaking, the way of harmonising with the will of the Universe itself.

Aikido is formally classified as Budo (the Martial Way)...

I joined Aiki Extensions (AE) in 2006 and have been a member of the board of directors for most, if not all of that time.  I have always been a great believer in the potential power of aikido ‘to reconcile the world.’ That said, I am a realist and believe that if it is to do this, then aikido practitioners have to take what they learn on the mat and apply it to life off it.  So AE was an obvious group to join as one of its mission statements is to find out where people are practising aikido in real life and to promote the work they do.

Given the level of resources AE has available, it has achieved amazing things, (see the website for details, (www.aikiextensions.org).  But in many ways it has been a hard road to travel as the truth is that t...

My study of aikido never ceases to fascinate and amaze me.  The further down the road I travel, the more mystical it seems to become, yet at the same time, it’s simpler too.  It is a world full of paradoxes.  Perhaps I can illustrate this by discussing three particular aspects of this, which form a focus for my own study:

  • It’s vital to look honestly at yourself and work on your own stuff, if you are to stand any chance of improving the way you work with others.

  • The less that you get in the way of an attack, the better and more creative your aikido will become.

  • We only learn techniques to ultimately let go of them.  (They are not what aikido is about, they are only the vehicle to carry it).

The first of these is pretty fu...

I recently organised a seminar in Burwell, called ‘Aiki Extended 2016’, which was designed to bring together aikidoka, no matter where they were based and what their lineage was.  I wanted it to be an aikido festival that demonstrated the powerful contribution aikido can make to bringing about more harmony in society as a whole.

After much toing and froing, I ended up with 23 teachers, all of whom gave their services for free and paid their way to be at the event.  They came from as far away as New Zealand, the U.S.A., Greece, Germany, Switzerland, France and Belgium and of course the UK.  The seminar was run in three halls, and sessions lasted for an hour.  Every hour students had to select which session most suited them.  Of course, there were...

In nearly every aikido dojo, the focus is on learning technique, and the purpose of this is to ingrain appropriate body movements, to teach awareness, to develop sensitivity and to give us a means of learning the fundamental principles that are hardwired into our art.  However, many teachers never look beyond the mechanics of the movement and all to often the message that this sends to  students is that they have to do something to their partner, as opposed to learn to work with their partner.  Success may be measured by the fact that the partner has been thrown, and little attention paid to how the partner felt about the throw.  Was it achieved because you  were stronger than them, or faster than them or simply because your grasp of the mechani...

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