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Aikido is the martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in Japan. A superior martial arts exponent, known to his students as O’Sensei, he described the practice of Aikido as “the way of harmony with the universal energy“. As explained by O’Sensei, the purpose of Aikido is to promote life and understanding, not to defeat others. In his words: “Aikido is not a technique to fight and defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.”
The development of Aikido spanned over a quarter of a century and reached a zenith in 1942, when Master Ueshiba, retired to Iwama, then a small country town, to engage in a simpler life revolving around farming and the study of budo (martial ways). It was in Iwama that O’Sensei expanded his practice to include the use of the ken and jo and principles of swordsmanship. From that time on he called this art, Aikido. This integrated Aikido encompassed techniques to deal with multiple attackers, through a spirit of integration and harmony of movement. The historical facts of the development of Aikido are now well known thanks to researchers like Stanley A. Pranin, the publisher of Aikido Journal. There are also many wonderful resources available on the internet that provide an interesting summary of its key aspects.
O’Sensei called the art that he developed during his time at the Iwama Dojo – Takemusu Aiki. The translation of this term is difficult enough, the precise meaning of this concept is more so. According to Saito Sensei:In Iwama, O’Sensei explored Aikido by worshipping the Budo Guardian Spirits and praying every morning and evening. And so Takemusu Aikido was created. He said the former aikido was not the “true” aikido. In Takemusu Aikido, bit by bit, new techniques appear spontaneously. This never stops, it is infinite like a spring. This is Takemusu. Therefore, for every technique, there is a basic form. It is necessary to learn these basics in their correct order to be able to understand the real aikido.
O’Sensei said that “Aikido is a divine truth which spells out a sophisticated implementation of Takemusu Aiki. Takemusu, as identified in Shinto literature, is the unsurpassed martial art of Japan. The art therefore proliferates a multitude of techniques freely as Divine Will sees fit.”
At another time he said that: “Aikido is the martial art (bu) of truth; it is the work of love. It is the way to protect all living things of this world, that is, aikido is a compass that gives life to all things. It is the manifestation of takemusu that has given birth to all martial techniques that have so far been created. The martial arts born therefrom are the law to protect the growth of everything existing in the world in accordance with the law of life and growth of all nature.”
“Takemusu is training to cultivate the ability to use gravitation.“
(taken from Takemusu Aiki – Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, transcribed and edited by Hideo Takahashi of the Byakko Shinkokai, see Aikido Journal #116 1999).
Although Aikido is of recent development, different instructors who trained with O’Sensei during his lifetime have gone off to form and promote their own “vision” of Aikido. Prominent among these individuals have been:
Kisshomaru Ueshiba the son of O’Sensei and second Doshu, led the Aikikai Hombu Dojo both in Japan and Internationally, Gozo Shioda Sensei, of the so-called hard-style school of Yoshinkan Aikido, Koichi Tohei Sensei of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido who emphasised the concept of “ki”, Minoru Mochizuki Sensei of the eclectic, Yoseikan Aikido, Kenji Tomiki Sensei of Tomiki Aikido who created the sports aikido system which includes competition, Morihiro Saito Sensei started issuing a “Iwama ryu” grading certification particularly involving the teaching of the combined weapons and taijutsu system he learnt from O’Sensei, but out of allegiance he never left the Aikikai organisation.
WHY PRACTICE AIKIDO?
Aikido and a healthy active lifestyle go hand in hand. These days people do not just practise Aikido for self defence, although the techniques provide a highly effective regime for controlling violent people. Many students are drawn to Aikido's overall stretching, rolling and harmonious movement. From sitting to standing to controlled falling, practitioners are able to enjoy a full body "work-out" which stresses "extending energy", "relaxed exertion" and working physically with a "partner".
Parents who enrol their children, want them to learn non-aggressive ways of self protection that do not involve teaching children to hit or kick another child. Aikido students learn powerful harmonious ways to control aggression and bullying.
New members range in age from 7 to (almost 70). Many recent students in their earlier years did karate or kung fu. Now in their 50's and 60's they are interested to continue their training (often after a considerable gap in time) with a renewed focus on balance, breath and body awareness. Men and women both benefit from Aikido's intelligent, non-violent movement patterns.The Ku-ring-gai Dojo has been active in the local area teaching Aikido for over 30 years. The Club and its members, provide expert instruction in Aikido, conduct seminars and give demonstrations (as far afield as Cowra each year for the Sakura Matsuri).
Dominic is an internationally qualified black belt and is offering instruction in the martial art of Aikido under the direction and guidance of his own teachers, Derek Minus Sensei 6th Dan and Saburo Takayasu Shihan 7th Dan. Dominic has also traveled to and trained at the birthplace of Aikido in Japan with Hideo Hirosawa Shihan, 8th Dan, who was also O'Sensei's last uchideshi.
Classes are run directly under Derek Minus Sensei, 6th Dan, Chief Instructor and Head of the Ku-ring gai Dojo.