As I See It

Aikido it’s not Budo anymore? There is not enough Martial in it? But what happens with age?

When I was 40, I was still Aiki Motoring, taking big Ukemi and dishing it out.

When I was 50 I was still Aiki Strong and able to keep up with the Young Aikidoka, (Just).

From 60 to 70 I found that I was starting to rely on all the Waza I was taught in order to preserve my weakening frame. I am an Instructor and student, and as an Instructor I never wanted to be a teacher who just walked around the mat putting people right. On courses I still train as a student. I have found that there is still so much Aikido to learn because it is evolving all the time.

I am still teaching and training, but things are different. I never thought I would see the day when I would be nervous about taking a forward or backward Ukemi. This time has arrived and I don’t like it.

Some say that Aikido is a “budo” a “Martial way” with its roots in “jujutsu” or “Martial Technique”. They say that Aikido has gone soft and is being taught soft in some schools. Obviously as we get older we slow down both mentally and physically and it is inevitable our Aikido is going to slow down and be changeably different than our Aikido was in our 30’s and 40’s.

Slowing down to me is a good thing because you see young people on the mat going at a thousand miles an hour and looking very dynamic Their Instructor saying slow down and get technique right before you go so fast, because speed costs technique. I found that my natural slowing down made me look all over again at everything I thought I had learned since beginning in 1968.

I also believe that my Aikido is far better now than it has ever been. Some of my students still yearn for the old “Beasting” days, but I don’t. Speed looks good but it can disguise poor technique.

So, maybe try to slow down now in the early learning days (hard for young people), or you can wait till your old, and get instructed by your body to slow down.

Whichever way you look at it I believe there is a place for soft practice in Aikido. If you had said that to me when I was 30, I would have totally disagreed with you and said,    that’s not Budo.  

The CUA Aikido union


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