Welcome to Kalamazoo Aikikai–Mitsubachi Dojo!
What is Aikido?
Aikido can be translated from the Japanese as “the way of harmony with the forces of nature.” It is a modern martial way developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the early part of the 20th century. Ueshiba, also called O-Sensei, or “Great Teacher,” developed Aikido out of his study of numerous martial arts, including grappling, swordsmanship, and spear arts, as well as his spiritual grounding in the Omoto-kyo religion. The focus of Aikido is not on dominating an opponent with strikes or kicks, but rather on using the energy of an opponent’s attack to gain control of them or to throw them. It is not a static art; it involves a great deal of motion, and the dynamics of movement are an integral part of Aikido study. Some schools, including Kalamazoo Aikikai, incorporate weapons into their practice of Aikido, particularly wooden sword (bokken), staff (jyo), and dagger (tanto).
Ueshiba had many disciples, and many different styles of Aikido developed as a result. The Aikikai style of Aikido is affiliated with the direct familial line of Morihei Ueshiba. Aikikai Aikido is currently under the direction of Aikido Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba, O-Sensei’s grandson. Kalamazoo Aikikai is affiliated with Birankai North America, an Aikido organization established by T. K. Chiba Shihan that maintains a direct connection with the Aikikai Hombu (main) Dojo in Tokyo, Japan.
On a purely physical level, Aikido practice improves posture, flexibility, stamina, body integrity, and body awareness. In addition to learning Aikido techniques, which consist largely of throws and joint locks, practitioners learn to fall safely from various positions, and can become accustomed to deflecting forceful attacks.
Many people find that practicing Aikido has significantly improved their ability to negotiate interpersonal relationships. It offers a structure or template for human interaction, and can be a useful tool for dealing with aggression and resolving conflicts. Aikido practitioners report improved self-confidence, self-awareness, and a sense of calmness in their daily lives.
With focused effort and correct practice, Aikido is a method of integrating physical, mental and internal (ki) energy to improve one’s entire being. The ultimate expression of Aikido practice is the realization of oneness with the universe in accordance with the principle of masakatsu agatsu—that true victory is victory over oneself—and the ability to move beyond a dualistic worldview. Such lofty goals can only be achieved through stubborn perseverance and dedication to improving both spirit and body, however; and this is the heart of Aikido training.