Mission - Philosophy
Aikido has come to mean many things to people, so it is important to clarify what aikido is to us at Spirit Aikido. There is great dispute over whether aikido is a viable martial art and self-defense system. Our primary interest is in preserving and even enhancing aikido’s physical effectiveness. There are many dojos who are interested in non-martial aspects of aikido. Our dojo remains firmly dedicated to the physical effectiveness of aikido from a self-defense standpoint.
Here is a news piece on someone who used aikido to defend himself from an armed robbery, and with just three months of training!
We as practitioners can only advance our own skills through rigorous study of not only our own art, but also learning from other arts. There is no attack or technique that is taboo for us to work with. This means we work with grabs, punches, kicks, ground work, take downs, and any other attacks which are used in real fights. We absorb and implement techniques and tools from many other arts so we can expand our effectiveness. Of course, those tools must fit within the philosophy of aikido.
What is that philosophical foundation of aikido? There are countless answers to this, and each aikido practitioner has his or her own interpretation. The approach we take is to focus on the goal of the safest and most efficient ways to immobilize a threat doing the least amount of harm or injury possible. The goal of a martial art is to protect yourself and your loved ones.
The realm of violence has many aspects, and we are interested in preparing for the realities of them. No martial art will make you invulnerable or assure you victory. Good training will improve your odds in a physical conflict.
Success in anything comes from practicing and applying solid fundamental principles. From a martial arts standpoint, the fundamentals of hoplology (the science of combat) are universal. We study, apply, and practice these fundamentals – some of which have been lost in the academic world of martial arts.
We are interested in cultivating in ourselves a warrior mindset. To us that means that we always strive for peace, but are well prepared when someone else makes the choice for violence. The goal here is not to win fights by being more violent than our attacker. It is true that some attackers require quite a bit of convincing to halt their aggression. We study and practice appropriate levels of response to attacks so we can dissuade them. Due to the genius of aikido, the intensity of the attack itself dictates the level of result as we are often redirecting our attacker’s energy.
Our ultimate goal is to be civilized gentlemen and ladies, who do not promote violence at all but are well prepared to deal with it should it happen. The strategy of aikido provides sound principles which can be used in every facet of our lives.
Our training runs a full spectrum, not only single techniques of aikido, but building the skill to apply them on the move in rapid succession called jiu-waza and the mastery of randori (dealing with multiple attackers). This is something that a vast number of aikido practitioners (even black belt ranks) don’t often do. Some aikido dojos do not practice randori, but we do. Randori is the ultimate testament to an aikido practitioner's capabilities.
We have a full curriculum to teach randori skills from the first month a new student starts, and even those with no previous martial experience can pretty quickly learn the fundamentals of randori. This is a fun process and everyone finds it enlightening and enjoyable.
The skills and capabilities of our students are our top priority, from the very first class on through years of training. There is much to learn and it is not a fast or easy process, but it is fun. One of the best joys you can ever experience is to make yourself better and see your competency improve.
The aikido I teach is best described as a modern aiki-budo. Budo translates to: the way of the warrior. It also means martial art. Aiki-budo was a term used to describe a combination of many Japanese martial arts, which included a variety of empty handed arts as well as weapons arts. The term modern is to indicate that I have combined influences from other martial arts from all over the world, not just Japanese arts.
The combination creates a modern evolution of aikido, in the spirit of Morehei Ueshiba’s words – that aikido will change and evolve.
Our goal is to create well-rounded and capable practitioners who have a wide variety of skills. From a self-defense perspective, you should have a comfort zone so large that an attacker cannot take you out of it.
To accomplish this, we train you with what aikido is widely known for such as joint locks, throws, and dealing with multiple attackers. We also include ground work and grappling with a focus on escaping and getting back to your feet. A modern an updated approach to knives and weapons is also part of our curriculum.
Here is a video showing the approach to grappling and ground survival we take in our aikido curriculum.
Although martial arts have a strong past, like anything else they must be updated and evolve with the times. O-sensei knew this, and we practice with that in mind. We use what works, and will adopt all good methods.