AIKIDO

AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock

AIKIDO is a powerful, modern martial art developed in the mid-20th century. It’s roots, however, span many hundreds of years. This unique system of self-defense differs from other martial arts in that practitioners seek to achieve self-defense and survival without necessarily causing permanent injury to or killing attackers.  Instead of resorting exclusively using crippling kicks or punches, AIKIDO self-defense students in Castle Rock train to apply a diverse curriculum of wristlocks, arm pins, and unbalancing throws to neutralize aggressors with an effective, yet a rational and proportional, degree of force.

aikido self-defense techniqueAttacks mimicked in AIKIDO training are for purposes of learning to defend against, more so than for learning to assault someone. In short, AIKIDO is about exercising restraint and cultivating good judgment. It is about knowing when and how to hold back… and when not to.

AIKIDO is generally practiced with a partner where one person functions as an attacker (UKE) and the other person practices self-defense (NAGE). At other times, AIKIDO is practiced with multiple attackers simultaneously against one defender.

Half of AIKIDO’s techniques involve joint locks to fingers, wrists, elbows, and shoulders, which enable the attacker to be driven to the ground, immobilized, and restrained in a painful pinning position. The other half of AIKIDO techniques involve striking, off-balancing, and then assertively throwing an attacker to the ground, which allows the attacked person to escape the assault. There are also many training scenarios that are practiced on the ground with the defender in a vulnerable, disadvantaged position against standing attackers with the high ground.

AIKIDO advocates non-competitiveness. It is not a sport like JUDO or KARATE. There are no points to score nor competitions to win. Therefore, AIKIDO is purely a self-preservation-focused martial art. This is the kind of AIKIDO self-defense in Castle Rock that is taught at our DOJO.

aikido randori personal defense

Safe AIKIDO Training & Avoiding Injuries

When watching a class, spectators often describe AIKIDO as looking remarkably fluid and graceful. This quality is essential to the safe and effective practice of AIKIDO in the DOJO.  AIKIDO’s techniques can be so devastating that if the two AIKIDO practitioners do not harmonize their movements with great care for their training partner, injuries can occur.

In the street, AIKIDO is not likely to be described as fluid or beautiful. Conflict never is.  But while training in the DOJO, safety is paramount. Some accommodation is required so that everyone learns and enjoys their AIKIDO training without injuries occurring. We all must go to work the next day, and no one wants to do that while covered in bruises and broken bones. Through intense practice, AIKIDO students quickly discover that the strength and power of AIKIDO is cultivated not in muscular force and exertion, but in calmness, centeredness, flexibility, timing, and control.

Because of AIKIDO’s strong throwing techniques, learning to fall properly and safely is a fundamental and often time-consuming component to the practice of AIKIDO.  After all, if students get hurt learning AIKIDO, then a school is not going to have very many students!  So, a new AIKIDO student should expect a considerable investment in learning how to fall safely.  More than 40,000 Americans die each year from complications associated with falling, so whether you practice martial arts or not, it is important for all to learn to fall safely.

AIKIDO’s Meaning as Self-Defense in Castle Rock

The name AIKIDO has been translated from Japanese to English as: “the way of harmony”, “the way of peace”, “the way of blending” and “the way of non-resistance”. These are all correct interpretations, and this surprises many. After all, what does a self-defense system have to do with harmony?

KI (pronounced “key”) is the Eastern philosophical concept of the universal principle of life  “force” or the “breath” of life.  The difference between a live body and a dead one, if you will. KI is at the heart of AIKIDO – both in concept and in word. When the word is broken down into syllables it reads AI-KI-DO.

AI = Harmony

KI = Energy

DO = Way

 

So, AIKIDO translates literally as “the way of harmony with KI.”  Use of the word KI in Japanese culture does not possess any religious connotation.  Rather, it simply recognizes the inherent physical energy found in nature, in all living and all inert matter.

However, concepts like these are not usually overtly taught in class at an AIKIDO DOJO. Rather, these notions are usually just discussed outside of class in a social environment or simply pondered upon in one’s quiet moments of personal reflection.

Observing two experienced AIKIDO students or masters demonstrating together can be an awe-inspiring site.  An acute observer will notice this distinct, but subtle harmonizing energy forged between the two of them. This harmonizing energy is highly sought after by AIKIDO practitioners.  It is useful in self-defense, and it becomes a metaphor to apply in every other dimension of one’s life.

The Physics & Forces of AIKIDO Self-Defense

The forces of Nature are efficient, rational, soft, and contain an immovable center.  Like a hurricane, tornado, or tidal wave, the center of each is immovable, firm, pliant, and stable. These forces may not seem rational or soft relative to humans experiencing them. Nonetheless, these forces are powerful and perfectly balanced. This principle of a firm center and a soft, adaptable periphery is universally consistent.  We recognize and apply this reality to the art of AIKIDO.

As such, the biomechanical movements of AIKIDO are also circular, whereas most attacks are linear. Rather than directly confronting it, an AIKIDO student harmonizes with the linear attack and converts its force into a circular energy that, ultimately, dissolves the attacker’s energy, leaving the attacker weak and exposed.

Finding Our Center for Self-Defense

AIKIDO is best executed by aligning one’s anatomical and mental “center” with the center expressed in nature and in natural movements. One becomes internally “resilient” as this strength is externally expressed softly yet powerfully in the context of self-defense. AIKIDO’s movements maintain this firm and stable center while simultaneously emphasizing the trajectory of spherical rotation characterized by natural flowing, circular motions. In technique, entering, pivoting, and circling motions blend with and, subsequently control and overcome an attacker.

Assimilating the principle of spherical rotation facilitates self-defense against the malicious intent of one with superior size and strength. By consciously applying directed force to this spherical rotation, AIKIDO’s self-defense techniques can be devastatingly effective. The outwardly gentle appearance of AIKIDO makes it appealing to many people. However, in a real self-defense situation, this energy is rarely described as “gentle” to the person on the receiving end of an AIKIDO technique.  Again, AIKIDO all comes down to the exercise of restraint.

A July 1980 issue of Scientific American states that “AIKIDO is a martial art that demands an intuitive understanding of the physics of forces, torques, stability and rotational motion.” It goes on to say that AIKIDO “is the most difficult of all the martial arts to learn. Its demands for skill, grace and timing rival those of classical ballet.” But don’t let this dissuade you from starting AIKIDO training.  This challenge is exactly why so many people fall in love with the art of AIKIDO for decades, above and beyond its use and value in self-defense.  If you allow it to, AIKIDO will change your life for the better in ways you couldn’t possibly imagine.

AIKIDO’s Founder, MORIHEI UESHIBA

AIKIDO martial art for self-defenseAIKIDO was developed by MORIHEI UESHIBA in Japan.  He was born in TANABE, a coastal town in southern Japan in 1883. Today, UESHIBA is usually referred to as O-SENSEI or “great teacher” and his portrait is displayed prominently in most AIKIDO schools. From his early youth, UESHIBA studied various martial arts including SUMO, swordsmanship, spear technique, staff technique, and various styles of JIU-JUTSU (the DAITO-RYU style).

UESHIBA was a deeply sensitive and spiritual person. Eventually influenced by the charismatic, Japanese spiritual leader ONISABURO DEGUCHI, UESHIBA came to view his martial training as a means of personal purification and spiritual training.

A Personal Transformation

It was during his time as a prisoner of war in Manchuria and during the violence and tragedy of World War II Japan that O’SENSEI developed AIKIDO. UESHIBA declared the art to be a way of joining people of the world together in peace. He desired AIKIDO to make a better society through the strengthening of oneself and the refraining from violence. In this sense, UESHIBA’s message was not unlike the popular axiom of former US President Ronald Reagan, “Peace through strength.”

AIKIDO became a martial art focused not simply on conquering others, but also to refine and perfect the self. A famous saying of O’SENSEI was ‘MASAKATSU AGATSU’, which means “True victory is victory over the self.” This axiom contains the essence of the spirit of AIKIDO. The developer of AIKIDO spent decades articulating this message of peace through the art of AIKIDO. The Founder of AIKIDO believed one was at their highest level of self-actualization when one’s personal KI was aligned with nature’s KI.

UESHIBA’s technical expertise and charisma brought him acknowledgment from high-ranking military officers, government personnel, and even the royal family of Japan. Following his death in 1969, he was posthumously awarded an Imperial medal for his unique contributions and service. It was the universality of his insights and his vision of the martial Way which have led to the massive growth of AIKIDO in the 21st century.

AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock: A Martial Way of Life

AIKIDO is a BUDO or martial Way rather than simply a collection of self-defense techniques. The word ‘DO’ in Japanese is the same as the Chinese word ‘TAO’. It denotes a “path of understanding”, a way of life, a philosophy.

bushido martial art aikidoBUSHIDO

The Japanese martial tradition stresses the applicability of martial principles to daily life. This understanding is the meaning of BUDO. In Japanese history, warrior arts were considered uniquely suited for the refinement and development of the human character. The qualities and principles of the ideal warrior – courage, decisiveness, strength, clarity of mind, compassion – are also the ideal qualities of the human being. The related term, BUSHIDO (“the way of the warrior”) also expresses these virtues. A warrior’s way of life is not simply fighting. It is the constant striving for self-perfection in all things.

The chivalrous, knightly ideal in European cultures was that of a powerful warrior who also possessed sensitivity and mercy. Likewise, the ideal of the now-extinct SAMURAI class, the warriors of Japan, was not a simple fighter. It was a balanced human being, a warrior embodying the motto ‘BUN BU RYODO’, which means “The martial ways and the intellectual ways are one and the same.” With such integration, one can truly be useful and of service to others.

Today’s SAMURAI Traditions

The SAMURAI traditions today are carried on in the self-defense practices like AIKIDO. Everything in AIKIDO training is meant to develop not only a strong individual, but one with the wisdom and energy to benefit society. A true practitioner of self-defense views conflict as an opportunity to forge oneself and overcome our true enemies, especially when those enemies are within. Such a life becomes ‘SHUGYO’, the deepest possible form of personal training. This truly is the spirit of AIKIDO.

Of course, the primary objective of any martial art is personal self-defense, for if you don’t survive, little else matters now, does it? But for many, the purpose of AIKIDO training is not solely the cultivating the resources to defend oneself, but the improvement of one’s personal character and self-worth. If protecting oneself were the only objective and benefit of martial arts training then not many people would make it a core pillar of their life decade after decade, as so many do.

Physical Benefits of AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock

All of the intra-personal and philosophical benefits of AIKIDO are accompanied by obvious physical benefits. AIKIDO training is an excellent practice for all-around physical fitness, flexibility, and relaxation.

personal protection aikido defenseContractive vs Expansive Power

The human body can exert power through two primary means of either contractive power or expansive power. Many fitness activities, for example weightlifting, emphasize contractive power, which means that specific muscles or muscle groups are isolated and repetitiously worked to improve tone, mass, and brute strength. The disadvantage of this, however, is that whole body movement and coordination are rarely recruited. Thus, while muscle size and strength may increase, there is no teaming of the ways in which to use those muscles together most efficiently.

Contractive power tends to increase tension, decrease flexibility, and stress the joints. The result may be aesthetically pleasing, but when done to excess it is ultimately useless, and actually detrimental to one’s joints, tissues, and even overall health.

The second type, expansive power, is mostly stressed in whole body activities such as Crossfit, swimming, dance, or gymnastics. In these activities, the body must learn to move and breathe in a coordinated manner and with relaxation. AIKIDO emphasizes expansive power.

While both are important, a person who employs expansive power can often overcome a person who is much bigger or stronger. Because contractive power is only as great as the mass and power of your individual muscles. However, the expansive power of AIKIDO can be much greater than your physical size may suggest. As you move with your whole body and it is for this reason that AIKIDO is so incredibly valuable for smaller men or petite women.

Relaxation: The Product of Expansive Power

Rather than stressing and tensing only a few muscles, AIKIDO teaches you to relax and move from the center of your body, where you are most powerful. Power is then extended out through the relaxed limbs, which become almost whip like in their motion.

So, AIKIDO develops power in a multi-faceted manner. Aerobic fitness is obtained through vigorous training. Flexibility of the joints and connective tissues is developed through various stretching exercises and through the techniques themselves. Relaxation is learned automatically albeit slowly, since without relaxation, techniques will not be effective. As a balanced use of both contractive and expansive power is mastered a person under six feet tall can generate enormous energy and self-defense skill. The uniqueness of AIKIDO makes it possible to experience deep levels of mental relaxation, emotional calmness, acute concentration, and peak physical fitness. AIKIDO self-defense practice also teaches acute body awareness and self-control, allowing you to execute as much or as little violence as is necessary, appropriate and legal. All of these are physical benefits gained by AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock AIKIDO DOJO.

Psychological Benefits of AIKIDO

female self-defense aikido studentsAIKIDO training does not view the body and mind as separate. The condition of one affects the other.  The physical relaxation learned in AIKIDO manifests as mental relaxation in the mind. Perseverance and confidence emerge in a body that moves and holds itself confidently and strongly. Psychological insights become reflected in the body. Without training, such insights often disappear when under pressure, and the person reverts to formerly ingrained habits and patterns.

AIKIDO training requires one to address conflict squarely – to not run from it. As such, an AIKIDO practitioner learns to face the situations of life in a proactive, constructive manner. Through AIKIDO training, patterns of avoidance and fear are broken. The tense, defensive reactions to pressure and conflict, which so often only contribute to more violence are recognized and deconstructed. Indeed, a whole new person can emerge; one who is direct, self-confident, and brave, yet still humble and without hubris. One presents as both strong and yielding as circumstances require – assertive and accommodative when appropriate. This is AIKIDO. It is much more than just physical self-defense.

AIKIDO in the Workplace

Obviously, these character benefits translate directly into the business world and workforce. Today, AIKIDO is useful in psychological and business environments as a productive metaphor in conflict resolution strategies. Worldwide, people use AIKIDO philosophy to improve the quality of their lives and careers.  AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock is no exception.

AIKIDO as Self-Defense in Castle Rock

AIKIDO is the only martial art specifically taught to the elite TOKYO Metropolitan Riot Police and Secret Police. The reason for this is the broad bandwidth or flexibility inherent in the art. AIKIDO techniques can be applied at varying levels of severity from the most-gentle controlling techniques to the most severe countermeasures. Therefore, AIKIDO is ideal for application to a wide range of defensive situations, including law-enforcement, medical or mental-health environments, civilian self-defense, and women’s self-defense.

AIKIDO can be flexibly adapted to whatever situation arises; this is the legacy of the SAMURAI class, who devised these techniques to face a bewildering array of assaults by single or multiple attackers. Today, we continue this tradition by instructing AIKIDO to a wide range of organizations which need decisive, effective defensive skills.

AIKIDO off the Mat and in Daily Life

The practice of AIKIDO becomes the practice of our daily lives from moment to moment. Every moment of our life involves conflict in some way, shape or form – with others, with our environments, with our bodies, and, of course, with ourselves. It is often our choice to perceive conflict as something to be avoided and struggled with, rather than as the creative force of change, which prevents us from making true growth and learning possible.

The development of true human potential, discipline, and refinement is sought after by many adults. To develop awareness, decisiveness, and compassion, we must experience the hardships and labor of facing life head on. The daily trials and tribulations of life must be used to continuously make ourselves, paradoxically, both sharper and more supple. AIKIDO helps us do just that. This beautiful art of AIKIDO consists of a unified, whole-body, whole-person training methodology designed to bring about this realization.

Through activities like AIKIDO, life becomes robust and filled with meaning. Every situation as mundane as sitting in traffic can be a springboard to greater and deeper growth. We learn to open ourselves to and blend with an experience, rather than shun and curse unpleasant aspects of life. Surprisingly, this kind of expansive training can often protect us from harm (such as not engaging in road rage with a fellow motorist).  As our minds expand, and we become stronger, bigger, more respected, less vulnerable, and more majestic people.

This is the legacy of the Japanese martial ways and the true value of AIKIDO training. Stressing the positive values of the martial ways, AIKIDO continues to grow and spread across the globe, fulfilling this vision.

AIKIDO, Hollywood & Pop Culture

While many dozens of books about AIKIDO have been published since the 1970s, movies about or featuring AIKIDO are rare.  However, AIKIDO received significant attention in the 1990s following a series of martial art movies starring AIKIDO expert, Steven Seagal. In more recent years, AIKIDO techniques can be seen in the John Wick movie series and the philosophy of AIKIDO was superficially touched upon in some episodes of The Walking Dead. On that show, a character named Morgan fights with a JO staff, which he learned from an AIKIDO instructor. AIKIDO was loosely parodied in the 2019 film The Art of Self-Defense starring Jesse Eisenberg and the 2024 remake of Road House also features from AIKIDO defensive moves.

Come try AIKIDO Self-Defense in Castle Rock today!

 

 

*** Originally republished in 2008 with the expressed permission of the Aikido Association of America. The article’s content has since been updated and modified.

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