Taken from the Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak
"Eight forces sustain creation:
movement and stillness, solidification and fluidity,
extension and contraction, unification and division. "
" Techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending
on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow,
smooth-flowing like water, and as empty as space. "
The Art of Peace
Teachings of the Founder of Aikido
Aikido's founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in
Japan on December 14, 1883. As a boy, he often saw local thugs
beat up his father for political reasons. He set out to make himself
strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard
physical conditioning and eventually to the practice of martial
arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of jujitsu,
fencing, and spear fighting. In spite of his impressive physical
and martial capabilities, however, he felt very dissatisfied. He
began delving into religions in hopes of finding a deeper significance
to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of budo,
or the martial arts. By combining his martial training with his
religious and political ideologies, he created the modern martial
art of aikido. Ueshiba decided on the name "aikido" in
1942 (before that he called his martial art "aikibudo" and "aikinomichi").
On the technical side, aikido is rooted in several
styles of jujitsu (from which modern judo is also derived), in
particular daitoryu-(aiki) jujitsu, as well as sword and spear
fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that aikido
takes the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them
with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we
must also realize that many aikido techniques are the result of
Master Ueshiba's own innovation.
On the religious side, Ueshiba was a devotee of
one of Japan's so-called "new religions," Omotokyo. Omotokyo
was (and is) part neo-shintoism, and part socio-political idealism.
One goal of omotokyo has been the unification of all humanity in
a single "heavenly kingdom on earth" where all religions
would be united under the banner of omotokyo. It is impossible
sufficiently to understand many of O-sensei's writings and sayings
without keeping the influence of Omotokyo firmly in mind.
Despite what many people think or claim, there
is no unified philosophy of aikido. What there is, instead, is
a disorganized and only partially coherent collection of religious,
ethical, and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared
by aikidoists, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth
or found in scattered publications about aikido.
Some examples: "Aikido is not a way to fight
with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and
make all human beings one family." "The essence of aikido
is the cultivation of ki (a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual
energy)." "The secret of aikido is to become one with
the universe." "Aikido is primarily a way to achieve
physical and psychological self- mastery." "The body
is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created
by the universe." And so forth.
At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations
of aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:
(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible.
(2) A commitment to self-improvement through aikido training.
An Interview with Henry Ellis
Ellis Schools of Traditional Aikido
By Authur Lockyear