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Was ist Aikido?

Morihei Ueshiba
Morihei Ueshiba
der Begründer des Aikido

Aikido wurde von dem Japaner Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) aus der Praxis der Meditation und dem jahrzehntelangen Studium verschiedener japanischer Kampfkünste (daito-ryu-jujutsu und kashima- und katori-shinto-ryu), entwickelt. Frei übersetzt bedeutet das Wort Aikido: einen Weg (do), die universelle und die individuelle Energie (ki) miteinander zu verbinden, in Einklang zu bringen (ai). Ueshiba, der von seinen Schülern auch O-Sensei (Großmeister) genannt wurde, hat den Übenden damit die Möglichkeit zur vollen Entfaltung ihrer körperlichen und geistigen Potentiale gegeben. Die Bewegungsabläufe und Techniken, die in Partnerarbeit geübt werden, haben zwar ihren Ursprung in den alten Kampfkünsten, doch geht es nicht mehr um Konfrontation und Besiegen, sondern um eine mentale Schulung zur Vervollkommnung der Persönlichkeitsstruktur. Wesentlicher Bestandteil des Trainings sind der Einsatz des Atems (kokyu, als japanische Entsprechung des im Yoga verwendeten Sanskritwortes prana), sowie die Kontrolle der mentalen Bewegungen, indem der Geist ohne Unterbrechung auf ein Objekt gerichtet wird; Instrument der Konzentration (im Yoga: smrty-upa-stana) ist in diesem Fall der Körper. Durch die Beständigkeit der regelmäßigen konzentrierten Übungen wird der Schüler zu tieferer Einsicht und zu spiritueller Selbsterfahrung geführt.

Aikido: Three steps to consciousness 

The history of aikido is most of all the story of its founder Morihei Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba was born in a small town called Tanabe a hundred kilometres from Osaka in December 1883. Even as a child he had a strong interest in philosophy and spiritual ideas and began to study Zen-Buddhism at the age of ten. He was equally interested in the martial arts of Japan. At the age of twelve he had to watch how his father was beaten up by political opponents. This experience increased his desire to study martial arts. Morihei Ueshiba  studied with several teachers. One of them was the Jujutsu sword master Masakatsu Nakai whose hand and foot movements where later further developed in Aikido.Ueshiba finished his military service in 1910 and decided to move to Hokkaido the northern part of Japan where he settled down as a farmer. In the cold climate of the north and through heavy physical work he developed extraordinary physical strength.It was also on Hokkaido that he met Sokaku Takeda one of the leading and toughest masters of martial arts of that time. With him Ueshiba studied the Daito-ryo Jujutsu, a tradition that can be traced back as far as the 9.century a.d.

In 1918 Ueshiba  received a telegram informing him that his father is very ill and Ueshiba left Hokkaido to rush to his father´s death bed. On that journey he heared of a spiritual teacher called Deguchi who had founded a new shinto religion known as the Omote-kyo. Ueshiba decides to call on Deguchi in order to ask for help in healing his father. Meeting Deguchi and learning about his spiritual insights had a lasting impact on Ueshiba bringing about a radical change to his life from this point on.

Ueshiba turned to even more intense spiritual practice and brought his family with him to Deguchi in order to learn from him. Deguchi taught Ueshiba a method of meditation called Chinkon Kishin that derives from the old Shinto religion and can be compared to tantric practise of visualisation used in Hindu religion and in Tibet. It is a method to calm the mind and return to the devine principle. In order to balance body and mind certain energetic and symbolic hand and finger locks are being used. These are called Mudras in Sanskrit and are well known in Buddhism as well as hindu religious practise. Every morning and prior to every trainig session Ueshiba practised Chinkon-Kishin that is also closely related to ritual cleansing exercises called Misogi. This includes external ablution with cold water as well as specific breathing patterns that purify the organic system and bring the mind into a focus.

The main doctrine of Omote-ryo derives from Kotodama, a science of sound and mind.This science reaches back to the tantric system of Sphota Wada of ancient India and found it´s way to Japan in the 9th century a.d. called Shingon, “the true sound“.

The most noble word in Sanskrit, Shabda Brahman, is said to be the heart of the creation.The christian doctrine says: In the beginning was the word and the word was with god and the word was god (Jac.1.chapter). This highest word, this highest sound gives birth to fifty pure sounds which form the fifty letters of the Sanskrit alphabet. These sounds are related to certain vibrations or energies which are said to be the begining creation and can be experienced as sound, as colour and as a form.  

Thus the essence of Aikido comprises of Misogi and the inner experience through the science of Kotodama that is based on the system of Kashmir Shivaism in tantric Yoga. 

Morihei Ueshiba had such an inner experience in 1925. A navy officer asked to be admitted to Ueshibas training but was refused by him. Inraged by this affront the officer draws his sword and furiously attaks Ueshiba. He is however not able to strike Ueshiba because he senses the movement in advance and simply steps aside. Shortly after this incident Ueshiba has an experience of enlightenment. He experiences the unity with the universl energy and learns that the true Budo is an expression of love protecting all living beings. This enlightning experience has a revolutionary effect on his life and bestows a new dimension on his studies. 

In 1927 Ueshiba moves to Tokyo where he opens an eighty tatami big Aikido school called the Kobukan which was also attended by members of the japanese royal family. The Kobukan Dojo was the centre of Ueshibas Daito-ryo Aikijitsu for 11 years. In the end of the 1930s he renames his art Aiki-Budo 

After Japan entered the second world war more and more military staff came to the Dojo. Feeling restricted by several political affairs Ueshiba decided to hand over the dojo in Tokyo to his son and move to the country himself where he built a new small dojo in Iwama. 

The Aiki-shrine had a size of 40 tatamies and was built for only a small number of students. In 1942 the name Aikido was officialy announced being the result of a reorganisation of the Japanese Martial Arts under the Dai-Nihon-Butokukai. Ueshiba explained later that he had perfected the modern Aikido in the years between 1942 and 49 and many of his senior students recalled their astonishment at the changes of the movements they witnessed after the war.In the 1950s Ueshiba travels throughout Japan in order to teach. In 1961 he opens the Honolulu Aikikai Dojo on Hawaii, the first Aikido Dojo outside Japan.

Ueshiba spends his last years in Tokyo and Iwama teaching continuously till february 1969. A medical examination reveals that Ueshiba has liver cancer and he dies in April 1969. 

To experienc the essence of Aikido it is inevitable to master the mind and bring it to a high state of concentration. In Japanese Zen-Buddhism the word “Nen“ describes a mind that has the ability to focus on one object without  distraction. According to Master Ueshiba the body is a manifestation of the mind that was created by the universe. The connecting factor between mind and body is the breath which is the finest physical essence. In order to control the mind one needs to bring about control of breath.  

With the ability to produce “Nen“ the mind becomes clear like a mirror and the mind gains the ability to reflect all objects and principles of the universe and to control Ki. Only “Nen“ has the power to control body and mind. Only through the assumption of “Nen“ the miraculous powers can be explained that Morihi Ueshiba could forward. Again and again he starteled his students with extraordinary demonstrations of Ki in order to encourage them to develop their own personality and achieve the same universal experience as he did. 

Aikido can be divided into three steps. The first step are the physical movements, the Aikido techniques called “Waza“ wich are ment to clean body and mind. The second step is the mastery of breath called “Kokyo“. The third step is Misogi cleansing of body and mind including studies of Kotodama a mantric school of meditation.The mere physical techniques are limited to the body alone. To bring about an expansion of the mind a meditation practice is inevitable. An Aikido practitioner who really wants to study the essence of Aikido has to master all three steps of Aikido.Without Misogi and Kotodama meditation it is impossible to attain a universal experience. 

Using the words of the founder one can say that Martial Art is a training of a power that is lying within ones own inner self. This power needs to be developed and can then be used to absorb the power of others without using any agression. True Budo brings about an order to those universal energies that protect peace and express universal love. Having the realization of the spiritual self as a personal goal, Aikido can be a profound means of self realization.

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