Aikido, the noble art


ueshiba_morihei_ikkyoUeshiba Morihei sensei doing Ikkyo

In the words of Noro Masamichi sensei, Aikido (合道 aikidō) is a Japanese noble art developed by Morihei Ueshiba sensei after 1945 as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as « the Way of unifying (with) life energy » or as « the Way of the harmonious spirit ». Ueshiba sensei’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. More to be read on Wikipedia.

What really matters if you enter a dojo is which exercise you will do, what level you will attain and what experiences you will witness. Aikido is your experience. You will share it with companions and you will study together with the same sensei, under the same rules, sharing spirit, energy and efforts. People tend to learn about Aikido as something to be discussed, read or seen on video. My sensei, Noro Masamichi sensei, always said:

I practise to understand.

Although he gave us classes, the real teaching was one to one, from a person to another. This is why I will share my insights on Aikido based on personal points of view, my sensei’s and mine.

My first glimpse of Aikido happened when I was a child. In 1975, I was having fun with my friends in the changing room after Judo class. When I came out, the Aikido class had begun. At first sight, I was staggered. The throw was Kote Gaeshi and I saw instantly that the principle was different from what I knew. Instead of rolling the opponent over my back or shoulder, I witnessed a move where the opponent’s wrist was twisted round an axis which was void and the whole body was thrust along this axis. It was a shock. Such a move could be done! I promised to myself:

I will do Aikido when I grow up.

Then I left, quickly forgetting my promise. It was already 10 years since I had started studying with Noro Masamichi sensei when I remembered my words that afternoon. Aikido is a personal encounter and, for some, a promise made to one’s self. Such promises are held, even through oblivion.

May 2016, I went to the osteopath a few days ago. For the 5th year, I am told that my body is balanced, nearly nothing to correct. This is one of purpose of Ringenkai Aikido. Peace comes from within: mens sana in corpore sano. Noro Masamichi sensei often told us the following story:

Ueshiba Morihei sensei did Irimi Nage first thing every morning to balance his energy.

Noro Masamichi sensei also told us that as young men, students of Ueshiba Morihei sensei were sometime caught in a feud. As the disciple would come back to the dojo, his master would first ask who won and then would scold his disciple for having used unnecessary violence. If the disciple had lost, it would be the worst scolding ever. This is an apparent contradiction within Aikido. One must study thoroughly with a qualified master to understand the goal of the noble art of Aikido. Those were the words with which Noro Masamichi sensei introduced Aikido to the West in the 60’s.

In Ringenkai Aikido, what is to be learned is to be experienced in the dojo. The Aikido I teach is the one I studied inside the dojo with my masters and my students. Ringenkai Aikido is a direct experience.

Feel free to join us.

Nguyen Thanh Thien