The word “aikido” is made up of three Japanese characters: AI – harmony, KI – spirit, mind, or universal energy, DO – the Way. Thus aikido is “the Way of Harmony with Universal Energy.” However, AIKI may also be interpreted as “accommodation to circumstances.” This latter interpretation is somewhat non- standard, but it avoids certain undesirable metaphysical commitments and also epitomizes quite well both the physical and psychological facets of aikido.
A practitioner of aikido.
Mutual stance where UKE and NAGE each have the same foot forward (right-right, left-left).
(lit. Striking the Body) Strike directed at the attacker for purposes of unbalancing or distraction. Atemi is often vital for bypassing or “short-circuiting” an attacker’s natural responses to aikido techniques. The first thing most people will do when they feel their body being manipulated in an unfamiliar way is to retract their limbs and drop their center of mass down and away from the person performing the technique. By judicious application of atemi, it is possible to create a “window of opportunity” in the attacker’s natural defenses, facilitating the application of an aikido technique.
Wooden sword. Many aikido movements are derived from traditional Japanese fencing. In advanced practice, weapons such as the BOKKEN are used in learning subtleties of certain movements, the relationships obtaining between armed and unarmed techniques, defenses against weapons, and the like.
“Martial way.” The Japanese character for “BU” (martial) is derived from characters meaning “stop” and (a weapon like a) “halberd.” In conjunction, then, “BU” may have the connotation “to stop the halberd.” In aikido, there is an assumption that the best way to prevent violent conflict is to emphasize the cultivation of individual character. The way (DO) of AIKI is thus equivalent to the way of BU, taken in this sense of preventing or avoiding violence so far as possible.
Domo Arigato Gozaimashita
Japanese for “thank you very much.” At the end of each class, it is proper to bow and thank the instructor and those with whom you’ve trained.
Opposing stance (if UKE has the right foot forward, NAGE has the left foot forward, if UKE has the left foot forward, NAGE has the right foot forward).
One’s center of mass, located about 2″ below the navel. Traditionally this was thought to be the location of the spirit/mind/(source of KI). Aikido techniques should be executed as much as possible from or through one’s HARA.
(lit. “Entering the Body”) Entering movement. Many aikidoists think that the IRIMI movement expresses the very essence of aikido. The idea behind IRIMI is to place oneself in relation to an attacker in such a way that the attacker is unable to continue to attack effectively, and in such a way that one is able to control effectively the attacker’s balance. (See SHIKAKU).
Wooden staff about 4′-5′ in length. The JO originated as a walking stick. It is unclear how it became incorporated into aikido. Many JO movements come from traditional Japanese spear- fighting, others may have come from jo-jutsu, but many seem to have been innovated by the founder. The JO is usually used in advanced practice.
Training. The only secret to success in aikido.
Mind. Spirit. Energy. Vital-force. Intention. (Chinese = chi) For many Aikidoka, the primary goal of training in aikido is to learn how to “extend” KI, or to learn how to control or redirect the KI of others. There are both “realist” and anti-realist interpretations of KI. The KI-realist takes KI to be, literally, a kind of “stuff,” “energy,” or life-force which flows within the body. Developing or increasing one’s own KI, according to the KI- realist, thus confers upon the Aikidoka greater power and control over his/her own body, and may also have the added benefits of improved health and longevity. According to the KI-anti-realist, KI is a concept which covers a wide range of psycho-physical phenomena, but which does not denote any objectively existing “energy” or “stuff.” The KI-anti-realist believes, for example, that to “extend KI” is just to adopt a certain kind of positive psychological disposition and to correlate that psychological disposition with just the right combination of balance, relaxation, and judicious application of physical force. Since the description “extend KI” is somewhat more manageable, the concept of KI has a class of well-defined uses for the KI-anti-realist, but does not carry with it any ontological commitments beyond the scope of mainstream scientific theories.