Aikido is a fantastic martial art, which is suitable for people of all ages, genders, sizes and physical abilities. It is a way of life based on the idea of love and harmony. As Budo, it is a life-long pathway for self-improvement.
Aikido promotes the integration of body, mind and spirit by bringing together three dimensions: self-defense techniques (Bujutsu) and physical training, mental training, and a philosophical framework. Usually people start doing Aikido having in mind one of these objectives. Some start to learn because they want to know how they can protect themselves against any physical assault, some because they want to become black belts, some are interested in keeping fit or in developing their flexibility, others in developing their concentration, and some think they already know some of the principles Aikido is based upon and want to enhance their understanding of them. In any case, my experience is that whatever your main motivation for starting Aikido, it won’t be the only one – not even the main reason – to keep doing it.
If you started because of the first reason mentioned above, you will see how important it is to link your martial ability to the training of the mind and the understanding of the philosophical teachings of O’ Sensei. If you started because of the other extreme, you will soon see that your spiritual and philosophical understanding of Aikido will only grow and deepen through intense physical training. The more you train Aikido, the more likely it is that these dimensions will start to blend and with time you won’t see any distinction between them at all. Your understanding of the art will be such that you will see it as one coherent whole thing, an indivisible entity.
The benefits of Aikido practice are uncountable. They will depend on how much you put yourself into it, how long you have been training and will vary from person to person. They range across the three dimensions mentioned above, from the more concrete and material, to those more quintessential. Some of the most noticeable and immediate benefits are:
- Knowledge of self-defense techniques
- Conditioning and toning
- Development of your fitness level and power
- Greater awareness of your body
- Increased coordination
- Sense of space and timing
- Correct posture and breathing
- Development of a strong centre
- Physical and mental relaxation
- Increase in self-confidence
- and many more,
In addition, Aikido requires and develops perseverance, patience, commitment, sincerity, responsibility, respect, kindness, the need to protect yourself and others. By practising Aikido in your dojo you are creating a pattern of positive attitudes and values that should manifest themselves in all aspects of your daily life. You will also make new great friends!
The founder, O Sensei, couldn’t have been more correct when he said that “there is nothing healthier than Aikido”!