Dominick Pesola – Shodan Essay #1
WHAT IS AIKIDO?
My simple answer is: Aikido is “a way to reconcile the world”. It is not merely a martial art – a collection of physical tactics designed for winning. Budo, the Aiki way, is a personal, communal and global strategy synergizing many kinds of tactics incorporating a win/win model: Aikido is The Way of Becoming in Harmony- with oneself and one’s surroundings. Aikido is the harmonious acceptance of community- the mind/body community, or a community one enters; whether dojo or national, local or global: a community made expansive by applying Aikido principles in everyday life. Aikido is cooperation within, or service to, a community.
Aikido has always existed, since the beginning of consciousness. As humankind developed, its natural practitioners lost “the way” and harmony became a secondary pursuit. O’Sensei rediscovered the essence of community within himself, named it Aikido and gave it back to a world of ego. Ego, or conflict, resulted from survival necessities; a world view within separate communities (keyword being separate) of zero-sum thinking. These communities were individuals and groups and geographic and cultural units, any entity that developed a self-serving agenda.
Budo is the martial way that prepares for and also obscures the battleground. The budo of Aikido doesn’t require a dojo or a mat. Stephen Hawking can practice Aikido, as can any uninitiated random person or group through the realization and practice of selfless service to a community; or, to be more practical, resolving to accomplish any goal without harming others in the process (omitting the harm from harmony). A contemporary of O’Sensei was Ghandi, who practiced the way of harmonizing energy in an enormous global community, resolving conflict without harming the aggressor and re-directing force while minimizing violence.
The way to reconcile the world in Ueshiba’s vision begins within the community of oneself, harmonizing mind and body. Each aikidoka, through practice, can glean valuable lessons with applications in self-improvement, personal relationships, and daily interactions. Blending energy and achieving mutually beneficial results in social, business and community interactions are manifestations of the four principles of Aikido:
1. Know yourself and the best outcome;
2. Be present, bereft of restrictive tension;
3. Ground yourself so as to be flexible and prepared to adapt;
4. Exercise the ability to adapt by keeping an open mind.
At its most fundamental level, Aikido is about perspective. Mind and body cooperation comes from congruent intent, or unified perspective. Two parties in agreement proceed toward a common goal through a shared perspective. A great leader infuses his or her community with the perspective of their vision. The incubator for harmonizing energy can be found at a local dojo- Aikido training is perspective practice. Within any technique attempted in Aikido, nage will enter, or tenkan, and blend with the attack to attune with uke’s perspective. When perspectives align, Aikido happens.
I can make anyone smile whenever I take a moment and see the world through their eyes. And people all over the world are practicing aikido as you read this by blending in an unselfish manner in mundane ways, electronically communicating an amusement, letting another driver merge or turn ahead of them or lending an unsolicited helping hand to a friend or stranger. We are not alone on this planet. The way of harmonizing energy/spirit necessitates a convergence of the initially (or seemingly) divergent. Aikido is harmony within a community, cooperation for progress whether self-development, marriage, an association with common goals, world peace or partner practice. The fundamental manifestation of Aikido is shared perspective and the perspective I choose to share is this: Aikido is cohesion. Aikido is cooperation. Aikido is community.