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Ueshiba Aikido e-Reflections
ISSN 1712-2341
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Feb 10, 2012

"How do you compete like that? Are there competitions in Aikido? "

A parent's question after the 6 January 2012 Aikido demonstration

Being familiar with arts like Karate (having practiced that in my teens) I can understand where that parent's question may have come from. However, as a path of peace and as Budo, Aikido does not have competitions. Competitions foster a win/lose attitude, where one person overcomes another; winning at someone's expense.

In Aikido practice, it is a person's character that is nurtured through a cooperative process that develops a win/win attitude; creating a more nurturing, caring, and loving attitude. The focus is self-development and self-mastery. These qualities do not imply weakness but a firmness of stability and confidence. We do not train to fight. We practice to develop peace and presence-of-mind in difficult situations, along with the means to untangle ourselves from attacks; the physical conditioning moulding the internal.

Of course, we can't always foresee or prevent an attack or bad things from happening. However, having the presence of mind in such encounters will help to defuse the situation. Further to this, if one were to be of a certain disposition, such encounters may not even surface or be aggravated as one would not consciously place oneself in conditions that would escalate into rage.

"... being able physically to overpower an attacker is not self-defense." (Ueshiba 2005, p. 12)

The first line of self-defense IS one's attitude and character; being mindful of one's thoughts, choice of words, and actions. It helps one make better choices when one is mindful of its consequences. I have witnessed shy students develop confidence, and aggressive students become more thoughtful, helpful, and respectful after a period of time practising Aikido.

Part of the process involves students challenging themselves to improve technique and dojo etiquette, even through simple yet challenging things like sitting upright in seiza.

Students who push themselves to do better take on personal accountability and responsibility for their decisions, actions, and motivations. There is never a time we are unmotivated. It may be to laze around, sleep in, to work, to be punctual etcetera... Making decisions on a feeling or an emotion is not often the best way to make a decision. When one does not feel like doing something, that may be the exact time it must be done. Some may consider these moments as "tests." Whether it may have come from some higher source or not, that moment is certainly a personal challenge to make a decision or a commitment to action.

Happy Valentine's Day!

In peace and harmony,
Rafael Oei Sensei.

(© Copyright February 2012: Rafael Oei)

Reference: Ueshiba, Moriteru 2005, Progressive Aikido, Kodansha International.

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