Aikido Blog

To control others, you must first control yourself. If you first control yourself, you will not need to control others.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Extend Ki

The last of the 4 principles is "Extend Ki". Understanding this principle starts with understanding what ki is, which is easier said than done. The "ki" of aikido is usually translated as "spirit" but it is also translated as "life force" and "energy". I've head ki compared to "chi" (as in tai chi), if you are familiar with that concept. In a nutshell, ki is the vital energy of life.

So what does "extend ki" mean? Well, it's basically a mental practice or a mental act that gets translated through your body. It's basically about being aware of your energy and being conscious in how you direct it. If it helps you can visualize ki as energy that starts at your center of gravity or one point and extends up and out through your body.

Another way that may be helpful to think abou it is, you've probably heard people described as having positive or negative energy, or what kind of a "vibe" they give off. Well this is gets back to how they are extending their ki, or what kind of ki they are extending.

For the sake of the principle, you want to be conscious about your energy and to be conscious in how you direct it. This can be applied to life on and off the mat, in and out of the dojo.

To your practice!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Aikido Journal Database of Book Reviews

Aikido Journal Bibliography

Aikido Journal has an excellent searchable database of book reviews that cover several martial arts and several categories. The list is quite extensive and the reviews are very well done. The above link is to all the books in the "Aikido" category. To go to the database home, click here.

So if you're looking for some summertime Aikido reading, this is a great place to start.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Keep Good Posture

This principle is perhaps more frequenlty stated as "keep weight underside" so if you've seen if phrased this way, don't be confused. The idea of both is about balance and stability. If you maintain good posture you will by default be keeping weight underside. Keeping good posture (and keeping weight underside) must be maintained not just when standing or sitting still but also while moving.

The Japanese word for posture is "shisei", but this word encompasses attitude as well as just posture. So posture refers to balanced and stable attitude in addition to body mechanics.

Keeping good posture is ultimately about using energy effectively. By keeping good posture we can move naturally and comfortably without wasting energy. Once again another seemingly simple concept that is easier discuss than to do.

To your practice!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Relax Completely

In some ways this may be the simplest of the 4 principles. "Relax completely" is pretty straightforward - no? No funky foreign words, no heady, new age concepts - just relax completely. What's not to understand?

But take a quick assessment of your body right now. Are your shoulders hunched? Forehead creased? Neck tight? Back sore? Are you carrying tension anywhere else? Sure it's one thing to know what "relax completely" means and a whole other thing to practice it. Stop yourself at certain points through the day and see if there's tension in your body. Most people tend to carry tension in their neck, shoulders, back and face and those are easy places to assess quickly. So try this for a few days. You may be amazed.

If you do find that you are carrying tension regularly start to introduce a little relaxation. For example, say you do a quick body scan and feel your shoulders raised with tension. Just relax them right then. Let them fall naturally and get that feeling, even if it's only a few seconds. A few minutes later you may realize they are raised again and just go ahead and relax them again. Don't be frustrated if you find they are always raised when you do the body scan. Just keep relaxing them. Over time they will start to relax - if you make that your intention.

So don't be fooled. Even though it may be seem to be the simplest principle, Relax Completely may actually be the hardest to practice!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Aikido article from the Times Herald-Record

Seeking harmony through aikido

This article from the Times Herald-Record interesting. In some indirect ways it addresses the question of how practical Aikido is for self-defense. It also offers insight into Nihon Goshin Aikido. Definitely worth reading.


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Keep one point

Yesterday we talked briefly about the 4 basic principles of aikido:
  1. Keep one point
  2. Relax completely
  3. Keep good posture
  4. Extend ki
Today let's take the first principle - Keep one point. What the heck does that mean : )

I've also heard this discussed as keeping your concentration in your center which for some seems to be a more helpful way of understanding this principle. This is an overriding principle of Aikido and also has a lot to do with principle #3 - keep good posture.

One point or center is really about our center of gravity. Our center of gravity is kind of like the equator, it's more of theoretical location than a tangible place (like a nose or an ear), but it is still very real. It is generally agreed that our center of gravity is a little below our navel in our abdomen (think of a person 3-dimensionally). It is a very important area in terms of keeping our balance - both physical balance and mental balance. By keeping our concentration on our center or one point we are more able to coordinate body and mind.

Sometimes Aikido is criticized for being to "airy fairy" with too much emphasis placed on things like Ki and one point, etc., but this principle can really be viewed as basic physics. Call it "one point" or call it your center of gravity but what's essential is that you know how to keep your balance in all the areas that important to your practice.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Great Aikido Article on Aikido Journal

The Harmony of Yin and Yang

Was reading this article this afternoon and wanted to share it with everyone. It makes some very good points about Aikido. It gets a little heady in some spots but I think the message overall is a good one


Aikido & Self-defense

Self-defense is one of the most frequent reasons that people give for taking up Aikido. But what you can't know about Aikido until you have practiced it seriously for some time is that it takes a while to actually "get it". Because there is more to Aikido than just the technical skills, it can take much practice to become proficient in the self-defense aspects of the art. There are generally 4 basic principles of Aikido. Different dojos sometimes teach them differently or phrase them differently but the four principles are basically:
  1. Keep one point
  2. Relax completely
  3. Keep good posture
  4. Extend ki
Over the next few posts we will discuss each of these 4 basica principles in more detail. But for today the lesson is that there are many skills related to each of these basic principles that must be practiced and developed in order to gain confidence and the ability to defend yourself. Technical skills are only part of the equation, and sometimes not even the larger part.

To your good practice!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

AikiWeb Poll

AikiWeb Aikido Forums - Poll: How strong of an existence will aikido have in a hundred years?

The AikiWeb poll for this week is an interesting one - how strong of an existence will aikido have in 100 years? Click the link above to register your opinion and to read some interesting opinions.


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Why Aikido?

The reasons that people take up the art of Aikido are as numerous as there are aikidokas (practitioners of aikido). Some of the top reasons given by people included:
  • Self-defense
  • Fitness, exercise
  • Integrate body and mind
  • General self-improvement
  • Want to be like Steven Segal : )
Aikido has many benefits to offer from physical to emotional to spiritual (for some people). The reason we take up the art may not in fact be the reason that sustains our practice of the art. That is, one person may begin AiTkido for self-defense reasons but find that the mental qualities s/he is developing (discipline, confidence, balance, etc.) become more important over time and are ultimately why s/he stays faithful to the art for many years.

Today may be a good time to consider what draws you to Aikido. Think about your motivations. How strong are they? A day may come when you do not feel like training and it will be in that moment that the strength of your desire will be important. Staying aware of your motivation and keeping it strong will help you should that day arrive.

To your practice!