Aikido is a 20th century Japanese martial art founded by Morihei Ueshiba, known as O'Sensei, or great teacher. He was a deeply spiritual man who brought and popularized the principles of harmony and non-dissension to the martial arts, thus transforming self-defense training into a process of inner development and conscious, compassionate empowerment, rather than just fighting and winning.
The techniques of Aikido are based on redirecting and neutralizing aggressive energy in a circular and harmonious manner rather than confronting it directly and trying to dominate and harm someone with a violent response.
The ACE Aikido Style
There are many different styles of Aikido, both "hard" and "soft" approaches. We follow in the general footsteps of Koichi Tohei, 10th degree black belt, chief instructor under the Founder of Aikido, and founder of the International Ki Society. Our style is very much at the soft end of the spectrum. We are not affiliated with any school or organization, however, and keep an open attitude and practice. The reality of Aikido both as self-defense and as an evolving art that develops and reflects the growth of consciousness is important to our approach and in the way we teach, practice, and add what we have to offer to the art.
In our Aikido style, there are some subtle but important things that we attend to in our training that are somewhat unique to ACE. These involve what we call "Kinesthetic Invisibility" which was first termed by Don O'Bell. It has to do with the proper use of Ki instead of muscle, and proper energetic and physical connection with one's partner such that they do not feel anything from the person performing Aikido. If one is truly "going with the flow" properly, the "attacker" won't feel anything being done to them, they just won't end up with the result thay intended.
We also teach somthing called The Aikido Process, defined by Larry Novick. It articulates the changing dynamics between two people as they go through an attack and "defense" scenario. It breaks down to:
An advanced way of describing the process is:
Tsukuri (Proper dynamic positioning)
Kuzushi (Allow the loss of balance)
Release (Technique occurs leading to resolution of the situation)
There are other subtle uses of Ki/energy and such that are taught ia ACE. We also use many, more modern, attacks than are sometimes found in other Aikido dojo.
Beginners are welcome at every class as well as the beginning class, and are separated out and taught the basics of Ki and Centering, rolling, and movement, until they are comfortable integrating into the full class. We teach a Kata, or movement form, that embodies all of the fundamentals of Aikido. It is an invaluable learning tool which is unique to our dojo, having been developed here by Don O'Bell.
There are some basic principles of Aikido that we follow. They form the foundation of the experience of Aikido, and involve circular, harmonious, and conscious ways of relating to energy.
Never confront energy directly in a linear fashion, always be, and feel, circular in your movement.
Lead the mind, which leads the body.
Always try to follow three rules:
Defocusing slightly to perceive more of what's going on rather than focusing directly on, and getting caught up in, one object or movement.
Doing everything with as soft a touch as possible so as to not give any reference to the other person to respond to, consciously or unconsciously. Do not go limp, but extend Ki.
In terms of making contact with your partner, this is an indication of how well you are applying the principle of soft touch.
Always go to the other person's world, never force them to come to yours.
In fact, never force anyone to do anything.
Always respect the other person's Ki: go with their intention and movement, not against it.
Follow the fundamental principle of ACE: the Awareness of being Centeredly Extended. It is a dynamic state of consciousness, and individually, this means release the tension of the muscles, feel and be aware of your Center, and be aware of extending Ki in all directions. In practice, this means be Aware of the Feeling and Process of being in the Dynamic State where all this is occuring.