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Remarkable Japanese (6): The True Nature of Aikido Explained

by Kazuhiko Ikeda

Aiki News #6 (September 1974)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Mark Bilson of Australia and is the fifth in a series of 17 articles on the life of the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba.

He returned to the dojo bringing the four young men with him, whereupon O-Sensei gave them a stern lecture.

“If you try to overcome your opponent you will be defeated by him. That is exactly what you fellows have learned in practical terms. Nonetheless, you would be mistaken if you think that this principle applies only to hoodlums. Japan was defeated in the war as a result of trying to overcome the enemy by force. In order to truly win one must use one’s force properly. Even with all your strength you cannot cut this bundle of firewood that I, a 67-yr-old man, am able to cut. Thus, depending on how one applies one’s power, one can throw 5, 10, even 15 men at once. That is the aikido principle that Saito used yesterday.

“The ability to correctly direct one’s power means combining mind and technique. If the mind is not properly used the technique does not really become part of you. This means, first of all, that we do not fight against others; in aikido, we never initiate the attack.”

At this point one of those present said, “Then, wouldn’t it be wrong to call aikido a martial art?”

O-Sensei replied, “That’s precisely the point. The so-called ‘martial arts’ were developed around the idea of winning. However, their true essence is not to kill the enemy, but rather to be without enemies. The purpose of budo is to ‘stop the opponent’s weapon’. In aikido we neutralize the enemy’s power, thus stopping his weapon. However, if the enemy does not attack there is no problem, nothing occurs, the world would be peaceful. In such a peaceful world martial arts would not be needed. By neutralizing the attacking force you deprive the enemy of his means of attack. So, aikido was created in order to put an end to all martial arts. It enables one to defend himself even if martial arts are used against him. Such a state of world peace is the major objective of aikido.”

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