Monthly Archives: December 2015

FAQs – Aikido

Written for norevalleyaikido.com and waterfordaikido.com.

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a traditional Japanese Martial Arts developed by Morihei Ueshiba based on his practice of several Martial Arts most notably Daito Ryu Jujutsu. The practice of Aikido includes weapons training in conjunction with basic training.

How is it different from other martial arts?

Aikido has a unique basis as an non violent martial art. With this in mind we aim to cause little to no damage. At a higher level this is internalised into a state of non contention. Aikido is also non competitive. All students teach each other and improve together. You can not get better without your training partners.

What is Aiki?

I have heard this term explained in so many different ways and I would recommend people to research this for themselves. In the context of Aikido, aiki is blending with your partner to led to a conclusion utilising extension and relaxed centered movement. After some years of practice this harmonization of opposites shifts from the external to the internal.

Does it work?

For self defence – There are two ways to answer this. Yes and No. If it is self defence that a student is specifically interested in learning they will likely give up very quickly. With Aikido it takes about a year to get even a  basic understanding of how it works and far longer for it to be considered as effective. For self defence there are far quicker and more efficient methods available. For the more subtle aspects of training to feel apparent it most definitely works. You should feel more relaxed and open from training . Also applying the principles of training into your daily life you may be able to resolve and avoid conflicts more often than not.

Is it good for you?

Yes I think so although it does depend on the individual. The training is quite sustainable in that all the movements should be natural for the body. You should start to feel more open and flexible after about a month. I find that I often have more energy after a class than before. Of course for the most benefit it is necessary to train as consistently as life will allow.

Who can train?

Anyone can train. The only requirement is an interest. Young and old can practice together. A student’s level of fitness is not an issue for starting. We train at our own pace. Risk of injury is kept to a minimum. Any personal injuries must be reported before starting so that it can be taken into consideration by all training.

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Are there any guidelines for training?

  • Yes. Try to arrive on time and ready to train.
  • Always pay your respects to ‘kamiza’ and fellow students.
  • Never force unnatural or dangerous movements on yourself or others.
  • Look after your training partners, no one should get hurt.
  • Respect the training style and tradition of Aikido.
  • Do not engage in contests of strength.
  • Train as regularly and consistently as your life will allow.
  • Always enjoy your training.

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Aikido with Patrick

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Recently I attended a Aikido seminar given by Patrick Cassidy Sensei in the Dojo of Ray Butcher in Dublin. Patrick teaches in such a way that people can explore Aikido at different levels of depth. One technical and another coming from sensation. The study of Aikido is often lacking in the kind of sensitivity that Patrick is teaching. A student will often focus too much on the outward technique and ignore the more subtle aspects. For example in pinning techniques such as Nikkyo, Sankyo and Kote Gaeshi it is easy to focus on the wrist or shoulder, however this prevents attaining a connection to Uke’s  centre. In other words if you attack the wrist that is all you will get.

By opening up more it is possible to feel into the centre and the feet of your partner. To study this Patrick first explained in terms of positioning and we practiced. Then he repeated the same thing but with sensitivity, done like this it is slightly different each time. I noticed that he called up many people to take Ukemi, I think he does this in order that the group has a direct feeling of what to look for. This way the sense of Aikido can be more clearly transmitted.

After the lunch break training got a lot more rigorous. We explored a freer side of training. Flowing movements while maintaining the connection to our partner. I found this is be liberating and exhausting in equal measure. It is however extremely enjoyable and a great way to put the principles of Aikido into practice.

For Patrick, finding and keeping this connection both to ourselves and each other seems to be an important focus of his approach to Aikido. I certainly have a lot to learn in this area and classes with Patrick give some very useful tools to make our Aikido more mindful. Surely the preservation of life is an integral part of Aikido and the first step towards this must be to gain a greater sense of empathy with each other. Patrick and some other instructors I have trained with and written about see Aikido as a means to improve human society starting with ourselves. No simple matter at all but by creating and training in a more focused open state of mind we can create a space for others to follow suit.

Patrick Cassidy is living in Montreux, Switzerland where besides from Aikido he also teaches Yoga and Meditation. He teaches in Ireland at least once a year in the Henshin Aikido Dojo.

Aikido Montreux – aikidomontreux.com

Henshin Aikido – www.balanceireland.com/aikido

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