Aikido: From a Child’s Perspective

This morning I received an email from the parent of one of my young students. He is the son of Don Eastburn, 2nd dan. This young man had a homework assignment. His name is will not be listed here but he is a 6th grade student and wrote a report on his interpretation, or rather I should say his understanding of Kokikai Aikido. I copied his paper just as he wrote it and I quote:

“Aikido is a martial art based on defensive rather than offensive principles. Kokikai, a form of Aikido was founded by Shuji Maruyama Sensei in the mid-1970’s. Kokikai branched off from the art of Aikido that was founded by Morihei Ueshiba in 1942. The predominant philosophy of Kokikai Aikido is minimum effort, maximum effect.

The meaning of Aikido: do stands for method, ai stands for coordinating and ki stands for life force. A person using Aikido would use the energy of his attacker back against the attacker with either throws or pins. the person would not use kicks or punches to attack his opponent.

Kokikai Aikido is a martial art that focuses on defense not attacking. the goal is to reach minimum effort with maximum effect. You can obtain minimum effort by guiding your opponent’s energy into the technique and then guide him into a fall (maximum effect). Aikido is intended to be for any sized individual with any strength level. Even the founder of Kokikai is a smaller man, but he can throw some of the strongest and biggest guys with little or no effort.

Kokikai Aikido was founded by Shuji Maruyama Sensei. Kokikai Aikido is only one form of Aikido and it is practiced all over the world. There are many, many different forms of Aikido there are even other martial arts that are based on Aikido.

When practicing Aikido you learn to defend against all different kinds of attacks. Each kind of attack and defense has its own name. To make the name of a technique, the name of the attack is combined with the name of the defense. For example, tsuki kote-gaeshi: tsuki (pronounced ski) is the attack which is a punch and kote-gaeshi (pronounced cote-ugh-guysh) is the defense which is a throw done by torquing the wrist. Much of an Aikido class is comprised of practicing rolls (to safely protect yourself after a throw) and learning techniques.

Principles are things that you abide by to succeed in life or to succeed in something you are doing. Kokikai Aikido has 4 major principles. The first principle is to keep one point to develop calmness. One point is the center control of your body. It is around and in between your belt belt and your belly button. It is the center of your body where all your power and energy comes from. Everyone has one point. You just need to train it. Basically, the first principle means that when a person is under stress or attack he should go to the center point and draw upon his power to develop calmness and relaxation.

The second principle is progressive relaxation. Progressive relaxation means that while doing anything, a job interview or practicing an Aikido technique for example you should always strive to be relaxed.

The third principle states find correct posture in everything. This principle is very important. It means that you should always have balance in everything that you do. And it also means that you should maintain good posture, for without good posture, you would be very weak and look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame!

The fourth and final principle is also very important. It, along with the other principles, should be applied to your everyday life, not just in the dojo. Develop a positive mind is the fourth principle. It means that you should always have a positive mindset and a positive attitude in everything you do whether it is a 3 page paper about something from Japan or whether you are cooking dinner for the President. Either way, keeping a positive mind will allow you to succeed with any burdens you may have. Plus, if everyone lived by that principle in their lives every day, just think of what the world today would be like. In order to improve the world, start with yourself, and maintain a positive attitude and mindset… Then radiate that positive vibe, that positive energy that positive mind. You will see it is contagious. (Rick Berry).

Aikido is a martial art, but it is not just a martial art. You can practice Aikido not only in the dojo but also in your life. The four principles are four laws to abide by to live a much calmer and easier life.”

Bibliography:

Stepping Off the Mat by Rick Berry. 2004. ISBN 0-7414-2075-9

http:/www.kinow.org

http:/www.kokikai.org

Kokikai News March 2006 Newsletter.

This young man gets it. My mentor once told me that a child sees what he sees without having his mind clouded over by the trappings and add-ons from old, and/or outdated experiences. So I ask you this: Where do you see yourself in five years? Strive to get where this child is now. Why do you practice Aikido? If you expect not to be attacked, why do you train? You can experience a more efficient physical workout in a YMCA or a Gold’s gym.

For me it’s the mental discipline required in avoiding injury while deflecting attacks and experiencing the satisfaction of harmonizing with and neutralizing uke’s aggressive nature. It’s not about winning or losing and not even about competition. When I operate this way it’s not a fight, it’s me dancing life. How I feel is the beginning; how I do is cause for celebration; I am being! Human is secondary and before you claim that my writing is grammatically poor, ponder what I said for about a week. I am being! I AM!

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