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We all have different reasons for training aikido. For me it started out by being seduced by the soft falls and aesthetic movements when I saw the first demonstration on TV as a child. When I started practising I was inspired by a great love for the idea of the art and the good feelings from the keiko. Now I do it as healing. Healing for myself, both body and mind, and also to be able to contribute in my own small way in healing for the parts of the world which I come in contact with in my life. In addition I have become so accustomed to doing aikido every day that I can’t even imagine life without it.

Prague in October 2011

Prague in October 2011

I don’t mean to criticise other’s views, but for me it would be a gigantic limitation of the art and a block on the road to practise aikido as a form for self defence. Maybe others have different ways to look at it, but for me it severely limits what we can do in the training. This is how I feel based on my own training. In my opinion, if we are practicing self defence there will always be an egoistical ulterior motive and ambition behind everything we do. I believe that this mindset will make it extremely difficult to develop beyond the technical structure of the art. Everything we do in the keiko would be measured and valued by wether “it works” or not?

Prague in October 2011

Prague in October 2011

What does work mean? To be able to do it on the street if somebody would come with the intention to kill us? I was very lucky and had the privilege to do some Gracie Jiu Jitsu (an art which maybe are primarily driven by self defence) training the very same fall when I started aikido. It became evident to me that the so called techniques of aikido are very different from those of jiu jitsu. I will maybe never in my life be able to make my partner do something he does not want with aikido, but then again, that is not the idea of aikido either, in my opinion. In aikido I have to persuade the partner to wish the same as me; to truly unite with the partner. Maybe these aspects might also exist in jiu jitsu, but since the techniques are so quick to learn, and so “effective”, in the meaning of leverage, simplicity and low number of things that can go wrong, that these aspects takes much more time to find in the training. However, in aikido, as the techniques, or katas which I prefer to call them, are so difficult that the potential is practically limitless. However, doing them on a jiu jitsu partner was, and still is for me, impossible.

If we practice self defence we are in a way searching for a weapon to use against other human beings. Already the idea of having an enemy that might be attacking us and which we have to fight is a violation of the idea I love so much about aikido. The separation of US and THEM is making it difficult to get rid of the natural problems we face when we are studying. In my opinion it is only us and we have to find a good way together. It is difficult enough to find harmony if we are not also thinking, in the back of our mind, that our partner is representing an enemy.

Vyse hrad in Prague in July 2011

Prague in July 2011

For me any training method is a good one as long as we have a consciousness about what we wish to learn from it. I hear very often that it is not possible to do this or do that. I do not agree with those kinds of arguments because I am positive that when speaking of possible and impossible in that way EVERYTHING is impossible for me. I am dependent of a cooperating partner in order to do the training. So what is then possible or impossible? If the partner helps me and I help him/her we can always do the impossible together. We can learn from the ways of practice that would be a waste of time and too difficult to do in a self defence directed art (like spending several hundred hours per year studying tai no tenkan). It would not work in a street fight, no, but in truth, what would? There are so many things which can go wrong. It is not so easy.

I am not criticising others for thinking about the keiko in different ways, but for me it works like this. For others it might work differently (we all have slightly different minds as well as bodies), but for me it is important to not think of our training as self defence training. Aikido is budo, but it is a modern budo. For me also budo in general is so much more than merely self defence. We should be careful about criticising others for their way of practice, and this post is definitely not meant to criticise anybody. I am writing for my own development, and I am merely trying to structure my thoughts about this subject. The subject for today being what I see as a great limitation of a great potential.

Vanadis Aikidoklubb, Stockholm in November 2010

Vanadis Aikidoklubb, Stockholm in November 2010

Enjoy your keiko! Aikido make people happy!