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Finding My Way Back to the Path…….

The kids and me have been training in aikido. It’s been a number of years since I did it last, the bruises and aching limbs I have each morning are a testament to this. However, I can’t help feeling like I should have followed this more instead of going to University, and this is something I should have done more of, something I now intend to rectify.

Aikido is a Japanese martial art that focuses on working in harmony to resolve conflict. The name Aikido means: The Way to Harmonize Energy. The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (referred to as “O’Sensei”), developed the art based on his vast experience in and knowledge of other martial arts, including aiki-jutsu, sword and staff arts. O’Sensei’s unique realization was that the study of a martial art can be a path to peace.

The philosphy of aikido teaches students how to harmonize their energy. While practicing how to blend with an opponent’s force, or discovering how to extend energy, or developing the flexibility to work well with a partner, an Aikido student is always learning how to restore harmony both internally and externally.

Anyway, for the un-enlightened amongst you, a short history of aikido now follows;

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (known as O-Sensei) developed his martial art from a number of ancient martial systems, including Jujutsu (Art of Suppleness), Kenjutsu (Art of the Sword) and Jojutsu (Art of the Staff).

The resultant art of Aikido was revealed to the public in 1946 and become one of the fastest growing martial arts to date. O-Sensei’s Aikido is based not only upon Taijutsu (body arts) but also the use of weapons, namely the Aiki Ken (wooden sword) and Aiki Jo (wooden quarter staff).

O-Sensei regarded an understanding of the use of these weapons as fundamental to the proper execution of open-handed techniques, but would seldom teach them at the Hombu dojo in Tokyo. He wished for those looking for his Aikido to learn the Aiki weapons at the birth place of Aikido in Iwama.

Morihiro Saito Sensei 9th Dan began studying under O-Sensei in 1946. His shift work on the Japanese railways enabled Saito Sensei, who also lived in Iwama, to learn O-Sensei’s Aikido first hand and allowed him the privilege of having only one teacher, the founder of Aikido.

Saito Sensei’s loyalty and devotion (he also cared for the Founder and his wife) was repaid by O-Sensei with the gift of a plot of land next to the Iwama dojo and by O-Sensei bequeathing him the Aiki weapons’ legacy. Under the supervision of O-Sensei, Saito Sensei organised the teachings of Aikido into a more structured format.

Before his death O-Sensei passed on the responsibility of the Aiki Jinga (Shrine), the Iwama Dojo and the teaching of O-Sensei’s Aikido to Saito Sensei. Saito Sensei calls this Iwama Aikido (Aikido according to the tradition of Iwama), and can be recognised by its strong basics, accuracy of technique and posture and its use of the Aiki Ken and Aiki Jo.

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