I began aikido for the same reason that many others do. To learn self-defence.
As a kid, I wasn't really drawn to fighting. But being a kid is tough, and sometimes the fight comes to you. The idea of being vulnerable to bullies stayed with me. When I grew up and saw aikido in the movies, I loved the idea of being able to protect myself without having to hit first.
It was an easy decision to start training in aikido. But traditional aikido is pretty formal. I had to use my imagination to see how it could be adapted for attacks “on the street.” The moves were all there. I’d just have to strip away the respect, compassion, and care that defined how we trained in every aikido class.
Luckily for me, attacks “on the street” never really materialized.
But kids did.
I became a parent. Becoming a parent didn’t erase the possibility of conflict. If anything, it sunk me in it! There are conflicts with your kids, conflicts with your partner, conflicts with other kids, teachers, and other parents.
Thankfully, aikido teaches us how to be in conflict without destroying our opponents. It teaches how to be open without being weak. How to be assertive without being aggressive. It teaches me when to stand my ground, when to move in, and when to turn aside.
Conflict is inevitable. But aikido has given me tools to handle it. I don't really think about stripping away respect, compassion, and care to make aikido practical. These qualities are what make it practical. I call upon these qualities every time I train, and I practice them every day off the mats. This is what puts the "do" in "aikido." This is what makes it a way of life.
But villains, beware! If I ever do find myself in a dark alley facing off against machetes, lead pipes, and pool cues, I’ve got a few moves in my back pocket...just like in the movies!
Aikido Yoshinkai Canada
This blog post is the first in a shared series. For more insights into this topic, check out:
Shindokan Martial Arts School