Martial arts, by definition, is a codified system of combat practices for use in warfare. For simplicity sake, a martial art is a systematic approach to fighting. It is ironic that Aikido (which, fundamentally, is a martial art) was created as the Art of Peace. Out of fighting and conflict arises a way to peace by not opposing and resisting fighting and conflict.
Most people who practice Aikido are searching for the way to peace by practicing the martial techniques created by Morihei Ueshiba (a.k.a. O’Sensei), founder of Aikido. The more I practice the Akido techniques, the more I’m realizing that the techniques do not lead me to “the way of peace”. Sure, I can practice the techniques and get better at performing them with less force of strength and more flow and fluidity. As a matter of fact, I can study these similar techniques through arts like Daito Ryu Aikijujutsu and Judo. Those techniques in themselves, however, do not get me any closer to actualizing O’Sensei’s art of peace in my life and in the world.
So why practice Aikido? Some reasons may be:
- Learning to throw people around all different ways is fun!
- Practicing being present and relaxed while in the midst of conflict and stress is beneficial to my life
- Getting exercise being on the mat as part of a healthy lifestyle
- Practicing being in the flow of the energy; blending and redirecting
- Learning to defend myself if I were ever physically attacked
- Developing friendships and camaraderie with the community of aikidoka
All the reasons above are valid reasons to practice Aikido. In fact, I would assert that most of the time, the majority of us aikidoka practice Aikido inside those reasons. We practice inside these reasons searching for the “way to peace”, not “the way of peace”.
As I study more about O’Sensei and Aikido, I am discovering that O’Sensei’s Aikido is not in the techniques. The techniques and their performance is an expression of his vision of the way of peace. For example, O’Sensei said:
The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.
O’Sensei declared a vision of peace and then expressed it through Aikido, the art of peace. So, Aikido becomes the expression of that vision of peace and can be applied directly in my life. For me, the practice of Aikido becomes the expression of the fulfillment of that vision. I can now practice being peace and I can discover the many expressions of that peace inside this vision. Therefore, O’Sensei’s vision IS my vision and my practice of Aikido becomes MY expression of that vision of peace. I get to claim ownership and authorship of that vision as my own!
As I practice Aikido inside of the vision, I start to discover the many expressions of that vision. If I am peace, there are no conflicts and no enemies. How does that get expressed in the practice on the mat? How does that practice on the mat get expressed in my life? How does my life inside the vision get expressed on the mat? The great thing is: I get to discover for myself these expressions while I fulfill on this vision and these include all the reasons for practicing Aikido as stated above.
The biggest take away for me is: I can create or own a vision for my life or areas of my life that I can put practices in and fulfill on it. As well as, discovering those default practices I have that are obstacles to fulfilling my vision. For example, I created a vision of “love and relatedness” with my adult daughter. Out of that vision, we created a practice of having lunch with each other once a week at our favorite restaurant. The time spent together is “our time”, and all we’re doing is eating and talking. This one simple practice gives me an opportunity to express my love for my daughter and stay connected and related. Notice I said “an opportunity to” as any practice can become routine and lose its intent. Therefore, practices can be fulfillment to a vision or they can be “chores” that I need to do (more on practices in a later blog post).
Have you created a vision for your life or areas of your life? Do the things you do in your life fulfill this vision or are they practices you are doing “just because”?
Have a Great Day and May I See You On The Mat!
Leadership, Executive and Life Coach – San Jose, CA – San Francisco Bay Area
If you would like to chat with me about how I can help you move forward in your leadership and life, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.