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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Feb. 09, 2011

"True harmony is much more than a written term or spoken phrase.
Don't endlessly discuss it - learn how to make it really happen! "

O Sensei Ueshiba Morihei

First off, if you observe the 15-day Lunar New Year celebrations, I wish you a prosperous and successful year ahead. Gong Xi Fa Cai!

The Golden Rule "Do to others as you would have them do to you" and the Platinum Rule "Do to others as they want done to them" are lovely adages to live by. They are beginning steps to living in harmony.

A word used frequently by martial artists is "Budo". The two characters that make up the word "BU" in "Budo" are "stop" and "spear" or "weapon"; i.e. to stop (any) attack or conflict. So when O Sensei referred to Aikido as "true Budo", he was stating that Aikido practice prepares the practitioner to defend against any attack - through peaceful and harmonious methods.

Mind you, O Sensei did not intend to have bouts in a ring to prove the efficacy of Aikido. There is no competition in Aikido, and its practice is not intended to build a competitive nor aggressive spirit/attitude. We do not pick fights, and we do not look for fights. Each technique does not prolong the encounter, nor last for 15 rounds. Each technique directly addresses the attack as it occurs, to end it. It is a response that flows directly into a resolution should you, perhaps, find yourself attacked wherever you are. The skills are for self-preservation and practicing the Way builds character so the skills will not be mis-used.

Living in harmony includes letting things be, knowing that everything is where it should be. Applied to an attack, ALLOW the punch or the kick to flow without disruption, unblocked. Step aside, go with it, help complete the strike, redirect it, or turn away from it to go to the source. This is not easy to do as our first instinct is to block, duck, or pull away. So in the Dojo, we spend hours practising to move accurately and effortlessly around the attacks, flowing with balance and a steady posture.

To learn to execute techniques in this manner, practice is through continuous cooperation between partners. Classes are not opportunities to fight, to test each other, or determine who is better. Each student takes a turn at being Uke (receiving the technique) and Tori (or Nage, performing the technique). This enables us to develop our skills safely, and not having to mend a broken arm, fractures, or torn ligaments every other week. You certainly do not want to damage your own body in the pursuit of martial excellence before you can even defend yourself in reality.

Looking after your partner in the Dojo also develops control and knowledge about how each technique can be applied, and to what degree, before damage is inflicted.

And as you practice, unless you are a Dojo leader, instructor, or sensei, correct YOURSELF, pay attention to YOURSELF, and be mindful of YOURSELF; not your partner or anyone else. Just practice each technique quietly and with concentration. Aikido as Budo IS a practical experience. This is how we "learn to make it really happen" in the Dojo. Knowing that the best sword is in its sheath, and the best fight is not to fight.

Do have a love-filled and meaningful Valentine's Day as well.

See you in the Dojo.

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.

(© Copyright February 2011: Rafael Oei)

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