One of our students, Tapas Pain, offers some feedback on his perceptions of Aikido practice.
In studying Aikido over the past year, I’ve come to think that my ongoing learning is being driven by one particular Aikido principle (at least as I perceive it as being an Aikido principle).
Aikido is a living paradox, much like a (made-in-Japan) Chinese finger-trap.
It is strong and forceful yet deceptively passive. Fight … and you will fail; absorb … and you will prevail.
While peace and relaxation normally conflict with combat, Aikido apparently relies on their mutual presence and existence.
Strength and force can take you far, yet gently applied mathematics and physics (even when couched philosophically) can take you farther.
Failure to understand this paradox, I think, is what results in Aikido’s (misplaced, respectfully) criticisms – it’s time consuming, lacks kicks and punches of traditional martial arts, and doesn’t help develop ninja (mutant turtle and otherwise) fighting night vision.
Yet, these perceived weaknesses are a necessary component of Aikido’s strengths.
Disregarding all of size, strength, anger and sex appeal, Aikido works from the “opposite” end of traditional martial arts – not an attack, but instead a counter attack.
The result is that Aikido techniques are somewhat yin-yang – a yang defense symbiotically inviting a yin strike, to complete a connection for coexistence.
Unfortunately, I suspect this paradox also makes Aikido mastery elusive – the more you practice the further you feel you are from mastery. And yet again (paradoxically), this is what makes Aikido effective where other martial arts fail.
After all, how many martial artists do you know who can beat up a paradox?
I think that for people prepared to think differently, Aikido can become a life-long passion and be “the” martial art to study. You are not likely to find anything more mentally stimulating than living in a perpetual paradox.