Aikido has come to mean many things to people, so it is important to clarify what aikido is to us at Spirit Aikido. While 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. Very few dojos out there have maintained priority on the physical effectiveness of aikido from a self-defense standpoint. Our dojo remains firmly dedicated to them.
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 ground work, take downs, kicks, and any other attacks being used against people. 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 aikidoist 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. Most importantly, it is to achieve harmony.
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 in any given exchange, much less every one. 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. Martial sports have even come to lose some of these fundamentals due to the specialized focus on certain techniques and others being made illegal within a given sport.
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 techniques themselves often dictate the level of result as we are using our attacker’s energy for the technique.
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, not just in physical confrontations but in elegantly handling small level conflicts before they become bigger ones.
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 aikidoists (even black belt ranks) don’t often do and are frankly not skilled in. Randori is the ultimate testament to an aikidoist’s capabilities.
We have developed 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 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 fast or easy process, but it is fun. One of the best joys you can ever experiences is to make yourself better and see your competency improve.