I am not formally ranked in the art of Aikido in any way, shape, or form, but it is very much a part of my practice and has been since the age of sixteen when I was first introduced to it through Bud Cook's group at the Evergreen Learning Center with whom I did some cross training on the weekends and had the opportunity to train with on many other occasions.
I have also had the opportunity to train under and become very great friends with a man that comes from a family that practiced both Aikido and a form of Jujitsu, with roots in the Military, thus, having trained in Japan at Hombu Dojo.
Aikido is not a form, it is not a combat sport, it is not to be considered as a Martial Science at all, but is more of an essence, thus, I do not believe it can truly be contained as one thing, in one shape.
The essence of Aikido is in the study and application of Aiki, which is harmony and not in just technique, but in all things, to live harmoniously, to live in accord with ourselves and others, not to fight, but to invite.
O-Sensei utilized techniques such as Ikkyo, Nikkyo, Sankyo, Heaven and Earth Throw, Four Corners Throw, Pins, to demonstrate deeper principles than mere techniques.
The true power of Aikido lay in that deeper realm that exists beyond words, that O-Sensei fumbled around with in order to open the gate within the mind's-eye so that we might catch a glimpse, to which, I believe, may have been missed on the majority in practice, and teaching, today.
Some see it as only one thing and one thing only without looking any deeper, clinging to these techniques, to the outer appearance of an 'art' or 'style' as if this is what O-Sensei had passed on and intended.
I can easily teach Aiki through Goju Ryu Kata, or through Dance Steps in Salsa or West Coast Swing, or in Sketching, or in just about anything else, it does not really matter, too much emphasis is placed on the outer appearance rather than the inner essence which has more to do with us than we might, at first, know.
I was thinking about all this today as I was going through some of the Aikido Warm-Ups like Happo-Undo, thinking about my Tanden after watching a Documentary that went into detail on the Tanden, how a Karateka had his first experience with Aikido and because he was not using his Tanden correctly was only able to rely on brute force.
This says A LOT about the state of things, not only about what an individual may have to work on both physically and mentally, but also that most tend to focus on the wrong thing entirely.
If I got through a movement what am I focusing on? The hands? The feet? Both? Or is my mind settled where it should be, in the Tanden? Does my Tanden stay level as I move or does it drop in some places and raise in others? Does it twist? Move sideways? Straight forward and back? Why? How does this work in tandem with the movement in order to make it effective?
When someone pushes in am I meeting that with a return push of my own, which really does nothing? Am I allowing the movement through and simply directing it in a way that is beneficial to me in order to overcome the opponent with their own momentum and energy? How is my center factoring into all this, or is it just arms and muscle again?
How does this apply to other areas of life??