Spirit of Aikido (As I Understand It)

In my five years of training I have come to understand the spirit of Aikido as a peaceful option to violence.  At the heart of Aikido is the ability to make the attacker and defender equals, so that there is no winner or loser.  No one is beaten or injured (seriously), and the attacker sees the error of his/her ways.

Though Aikido is peaceful, it is not demure or submissive.  For a technique to work, one must be aware of her surroundings.  This includes the attacker(s) and the space in which you move.  If you are unaware, the attacker will overcome you before you know what is happening.  If you are unaware of the surroundings, you may trip and fall, or throw your attacker into a brick wall or off a cliff.  (These are extreme examples.)  I’ve heard spectators at Aikido demonstrations say that often they had trouble telling who attacked first.  To me, this means that nage’s response to uke must take place at nearly the same time as uke commits to the attack.

Aside from a few Aikido novels, most of what I learned has been through training and listening to my instructors.  Books are certainly useful, but they are purely supplementary.  It is impossible to truly understand Aikido without doing it.