Aikido as Martial Art
Aikido is a so-called martial art. An Aikidoka learns to deal with himself and others rather than to fight. We therefore speak of a ‘partner’ rather than an ‘opponent’.
Patience, concentration, a balanced relaxed posture and awareness are both means and end. One learns to react alertly to others and the environment, by observing ‘intentions’ (small changes that can lead to something). If one is able to do so, ‘fighting’ is usually unnecessary.
The most important difference with other martial arts is that it does not contain a competition element. Contests and tournaments are absent from Aikido as a martial art, as they only encourage self-doubt. Ultimately, this defeats the very purpose of Aikido. Therefore, both advanced and beginners practice together in our dojo.
Unlike karate, for example, kicking and punching are not an essential part of our techniques. Aikido is not, like judo, about pulling an ‘opponent’ off balance. An Aikidoka tries to make use of the forces of his ‘opponent’ to defuse him/her. By simply stepping aside for an attack and leading the opponent with some often subtle movements into a position not desired by him/her.
In Aikido, the following techniques are used: kime (clamps), nage (throws), kokyo (breathing technique), boken, jo and tanto (weapons), tai-sabaki (turning), kuzushi (balance) etc. Weapon and empty-hand techniques are basically the same.
Weapons are mainly used to control and improve both posture (shizei) and distance (mahwai).
Breathing exercises are of great importance in Aikido, because with them we learn to develop a power that everyone already possesses by nature: KI (life energy).
This power is much more important than muscle power. Through practice, this individual ki becomes stronger and stronger and does not weaken with age. This is in contrast to muscle power.