The human body, viewed as a feat of engineering, is miraculous when compared to the most modern of today’s artificial constructs. It wasn’t built to order, but rather evolved over thousands of years to cater to the physical demands of competing with the top predators of the animal kingdom. In today’s world of comfortable living, supermarket shopping and automobiles however, the extent of the capabilities of the human body are rarely explored unless a special, conscious effort is made to do so. Martial arts in general, and Kokikai Aikido in particular, is my chosen route to do so.
Aikido, as I understand it, is a martial art that has evolved from older ones by refining their principles and techniques. This is to make use of superior understanding, and control, of one’s body and the opponent’s body. With this knowledge and control, it becomes possible to seize control of a potentially hostile environment and maintain that control. Kokikai Aikido continues this process of improving, epitomised by the goal of ‘minimum effort, maximum effect’; which in my opinion is almost synonymous with ‘perfect control of the human body’.
When I refer to the human body it also includes the mind. I find that Aikido training is not just mindless honing of muscles and bones, every aspect of training also trains the mind. It is perhaps a thinking person’s martial art, relying on an intuitive understanding of the art, but also a conscious thought process in order to seize and maintain control. I find that this combination of physical and mental training very appealing. Ironically, the fact that regular training demands both physical and mental effort also makes it relaxing. To give a specific example, Aikido training helped make writing my doctoral thesis bearable simply because it gave me something else to focus on entirely. There was no way I could even think of work when I’m trying to learn to defend against people throwing a punch at my face!
I started my Aikido training in September of 2007 with the simple aim of attending all the classes for two weeks before deciding if this was the martial art for me. At the end of two weeks, there was no question of not continuing training. Instead I decided to re-evaluate my martial art when I earned my black belt, to see if I had the same level of interest in Aikido then. My black belt came in 2012. I find I am just as interested if not more so. I see no reason for not continuing to train for the rest of my life. Perhaps perfect Aikido is just as elusive and unattainable as the perfect game of chess, but in some sense that makes them the perfect goal to aspire to on a lifelong journey!