Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Aikido and Spiritual Development


           What is “Spiritual Development?” It is the main focus of Aikido training; that is the development of Ki. Ki has five dimensions which will be discussed later. Outside of these five dimensions of Ki, there is no such thing as internal power. Learning proper mechanics of Aiki movement is only effective once the whole body connectivity of Ki has been realized. 
          This opens up the deepest dimensions of our sub-conscious mind and leads to personal growth and transformation. When there is no longer any division between yourself and “the world out there,” the wisdom of enlightenment shines through you. Regardless of how this is achieved, spiritual development can only occur by opening up and strengthening the five dimensions of consciousness.

            In the words of the late Kisshomaru Ueshiba, “When you have reached a certain level in Aikido, you have already been psychologically transformed.” This doesn’t happen merely by the repetition of kata or basic technique. Kata contains the wisdom of the masters who created it, yet it will not reveal itself to you without great patience and diligent research.
            Furthermore, even developing your ki to a high level is not a guarantee of becoming a better person. Everyone starts from a different place and the power of ki can be misused. It is for this reason that the masters of old refused to teach a student until his, or her, character had been observed and proven over a period of time.
            Assuming that your intentions are correct and you pursue this path of development, you will encounter continuous difficulty. You will be distracted and the goal will often seem insurmountable. The things that you understand today will be shown to be inferior tomorrow, yet in this way, you will grow daily experiencing both breakthroughs and plateaus.

            In the end, the real level of your Aikido will be shown through you clear vision, character, and leadership. Many people become strong through repetition, yet they will never enjoy the fruits of spiritual achievement until they throw this power away and seek out the real meaning of ki in daily life as well as on the mat.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Aikido no Michi


       The path of Aikido is very powerful. If you practice diligently and sincerely, your growth will be deep and even visible from week to week, month to month, and especially from year to year. If however, you have been practicing for several years and the ability to realize wisdom and power has evaded you, you must seek out the obstruction to progress in your daily life.
            Aikido can’t be taught, yet if the proper method of practicing is followed, it will be realized as actual ability and wisdom. Even grasping the deepest secrets however, if your heart and mind are not correct, you will be unable to realize it. In the words of the founder, “Realization of the Divine Spirit is accomplished through practice. If there is the smallest separation from the Divine Spirit then the way is not being followed.”
            The path of Aikido unfolds as the function of spirit, mind, and body. Spirit is Makoto, honesty to yourself and others with no procrastination or excuses. Mind is the power of intention that manifest the power of ki. Body is the shrine, or temple, of our existence, the vehicle that we use to train the mind and spirit. The way should be as natural as getting up and putting your feet on the ground, yet without maintaining purity of body and mind it becomes like the words of Zen master Ummon, “To sweep out the garden, who has the strength. “

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Divine Cross


It is a uniqueness of universal order and principle that the simplest physical reality is eventually revealed as containing the highest wisdom and spirituality. In Aikido this is to stand properly and become the perfect receiver. Your ultimate response can only be correct to the degree that you have achieved this. This is no small feat.
It begins with what is called ki extension. Stretching the spine upward and down to become rooted in both Heaven and earth, you establish yourself at the center of the six directions. This is Irimi, the spirit of Aikido; sending your ki out in all directions to infinity; our own intention meeting and merging with the universal will. O-sensei called it the “Divine Cross.” This is the kototama of Tou or Tao, in Japanese pronounced Dou. It is the fulfillment of Michi, the highest level of Aikido. It is also the elimination of duality, or separation. It is called Gokui, “exteme will” or “radical faith.”

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Heaven-Earth-Fire-Water.

The aikido of a true master will always appear to be fake. In fact if it looks real it is nothing more than the use of unreasonable force to manipulate another person. This is not truly aikido. The reason for this is that the arms, which create visible form, are not used in bringing your partner down or throwing. Bringing your partner down is the result of projecting your intention, or ki, from your Hara and the trunk of your body down and through your partner’s body to his spine.
            The trunk of the body is where the ki of Heaven and Earth function vertically, rising and descending. The arms and legs are the ki of water and fire, rising up and branching out horizontally. This distinction should be clearly understood if one is to practice properly. Standing at the center of these forces as the neutral receiver, real aikido becomes possible. Herein lies the real meaning behind O-sensei’s use of the words, “No Enemy.”

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Spirit of Aikido


Human beings are born from the interchange of Heaven (A) and Earth (U). Standing between the two, consciousness begins as (Wa=UA) Heaven refers to sunshine, the air we breathe, and even our highest aspirations. Earth is gross matter, the ground of being, and our physical body itself. When water ki (O) flows through the earth the vitality of the life force (Yo) is awakened from its slumber and the life will (I) begins to reach towards it’s highest aspirations (A), the manifestation of its own perfection. 
This process takes place in the life of every child, yet too often this fountain of youth runs dry and vitality is lost before wisdom can be realized. The balance of our soul and spirit needs to be maintain through proper training in Aiki. In this way we maintain and further develop the harmonious interchange between will (I) and vitality (O). When vitality becomes dominant over the will, we lose the unified focus of intention (Yi) and the wisdom of Aiki (Gokui) is missed. What an incredible waste

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Aikido Principle in a Nutshell.


I have written previously about Aiki principle, yet it is extremely subtle and easy to miss in our practice. It is necessary therefore to further clarify it and make it more easily accessible. O-sensei described it as Ame no Uki Hashi, "The Floating Bridge of Heaven.” In Shinto this is the divine cross of fire and water ki.
          The principle of Aiki didn’t begin with O-sensei or even with Takeda Sokaku of Daito Ryu fame. It is at least five thousand years old and is the foundation of Chinese martial art, medicine, and philosophy. It begins with the statement ten-jin-chi, which indicates the vertical relationship between Heaven, Man, and Earth. This is the first manifestation of Aiki.
            This vertical relationship is also called tate. It is water ki, the foundation of the physical world, standing up vertically. The horizontal line of the cross is called yoko.  It is fire ki branching out from the vertical trunk or stem of the physical world. Fire ki is active and moves; water ki is passive and is moved. This active and passive relationship is essential to manifesting aiki in our movement. 
            Mankind moving through the center of this form gives it intention (Yi), which activates the cross to begin turning and create naname, the diagonal, or spiral form of the manifest world. This is what O-sensei referred to as Takemusu, the continual creation of new form, or technique born from the circumstances of the moment.
Practicing with these guidelines as our reference point, the secrets of aikido technique are gradually realized and we are transformed. This needs to be considered seriously. No amount of repetitive practice will reveal it. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Natural Movement

May 2011

            It is a common idea in aikido that hara is the origin of both movement and power. This can be misleading.  Hara is the center of body movement and therefore distributes the power that comes from Heaven and Earth and every other part of the body. It is a spiritual, or psychic, center and should be the origin of our intention towards movement. Nevertheless, natural movement requires that every part of the body, although integrally related, should also remain completely independent.
         Attempting to fuse the hara with the arms, or line it up behind the elbows and the wrists, etc., is mistaken and leads to stiff and rigid movement. Practicing in this way, there is no freedom of movement; no grace, beauty, or power. Just as the liver and heart have their own independent functions so the individual parts of the body should remain independent. As it says in the Bible, “Don’t let your right hand know what your left hand does.”
            Each of us as individuals are also part of a much larger life force, yet we also should learn to move independently. Lacking this we can hardly discover our own innate freedom, or the happiness upon which it depends. Realizing our own freedom as a part of something much greater we support the totality of humanity, even the universe itself. Unless this harmony and freedom is present in our own lives however, the idea of bringing peace to the world through aikido, or any other medium, is only an idealistic dream.