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Aikido Philosophy Corner
The Nature of Aikido: Humility
 by Aikido Student, Len Silverston

Antonyms of humility are arrogance, pride, egoism, or an inflated opinion of self. Being egotistic, or separating our 'self' with pride or arrogance, seems to be in opposition to "unifying with life energy." Aikido is an art of blending and connecting. So we are submitting or deferring to life energy, ki, and/or spirit rather than egotistic, separating, or disconnected ways.

As a beginning Aikido student with about 2 years of practice, I have noticed some un-empowering thoughts that have arisen  in my mind and I have heard others express similar thoughts. Some of these have been:

"This is frustrating to make such slow progress 
and I want to advance more quickly"

"I am not as talented/good as .... (another student)" 

"I suck at this!"

"It is difficult for me to completely relax my body, especially  as an Uke being thrown"

"I want to be noticed, validated, and thought well of by my classmates"

"The difficulties I face make me want to stop practicing"


Do you notice all the “separating” characteristics of these thoughts?  These are not humble thoughts and not thoughts that help unify with life energy or be harmonious in spirit.

The practice of Aikido starts in our minds so I think if we practice developing and expressing more Aikido-minded, unifying, and harmonious thoughts, this would be helpful to our practice, for example:


"Whatever stage/level I am at is perfect"

"I am here to develop my body and mind: 
I am not here to compete or compare myself with others"

"I am so blessed and appreciative of this opportunity to learn and practice this art of conscious embodiment, energy, peace and connection and I am so grateful to my teachers and fellow students"

"I rejoice in the progress of others. I do not, through my thoughts, words or actions, separate myself from others through coveting, envy or jealousy"

"I am more and more relaxed and centered"

"I am here, balanced with the intention to develop myself and to be of service to others"

"I see difficulties and challenges as gifts of humility"


To further our practice, I invite us all to practice Aikido minded thoughts, which may be similar to the above or perhaps you have suggestions of thoughts, which I would love to hear.

The "Course in Miracles" text says "there is only one problem, therefore there is only one solution. The one problem is guilt, separation, or holding grievances, and the one solution is a miracle, forgiveness, or joining."

I am so appreciative to join, connect, and practice with you all here at the dojo. 

Humbly yours, 
Len (Kensho) Silverston

It seems that there is a quality of humility that is a core aspect of Aikido. What is humility? Webster's definition is "reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission."  Then, to what are we submitting or deferring in our Aikido practice? 

Before answering, let's explore the intent of Aikido.  The word Aikido is made of three Kanji (Chinese characters), namely "ai" (translated as joining, unifying, combining, or blending), "ki" (spirit, energy, mood, or morale), and "do" (the way or path). Thus, it is often translated as "the Way of unifying (with) life energy" or as "the Way of harmonious spirit."