Youth Black Belt Essay by Anush Rajan
At the level of youth black belt, how do you bring the Art of Peace to life outside of the dojo?
As O-Sensei once said, “ To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace.” As we all know (or now know), the martial art of Aikido is more peaceful than other martial arts, because of its gentle nature to defend oneself without hurting the opponent. Meanwhile, other martial arts, such as karate, have a much different approach to conflict. Thus, Aikido is sometimes referred to as the “Art of Peace”. Related to the Art of Peace, O-Sensei’s quote, and Aikido, my essay question forthisblackbelttestwas“A tthelevelofyouthblackbelt,howdoyoubring the Art of Peace to life outside of the dojo?” As I pondered this question, I thought of three key points that incorporate Aikido into our daily lives: the mind, the body, and the spirit. And when you connect with all three of these points and use them in unison, it can lead to a more peaceful life.
The mind is one of the most powerful tools us humans have within ourselves. It has boundless amounts of energy to control our bodies and for the most part, our lives. Every action that we make starts with our mind, that tells us how to proceed with that action. Although, some actions that we make can lead to unwanted results, which of course, is unwanted. That’s where Aikido
comes into play. Aikido trains your mind to react assertively to a given scenario. What I mean by assertively is, one is not violent and aggressive, nor shy and passive. It is a mix of those two, a perfect balance. Once the mind brings conflicts into an assertive direction a few times, one will build habits to do this over and over, leading to a more peaceful lifestyle. On the contrary, if one builds the habit to resolve conflicts aggressively or passively, it will stay implemented in their mind until they choose to break their bad habit, which is a very hard thing to do. So, it is more useful to implement the Art of Peace into your mind, which will come off as assertive, instead of being violent or shy. The mind is one of the key points that embraces Aikido into a daily lifestyle.
Our bodies are an essential to our living. They help us eat, sleep, walk, talk, and much more. The body can be used for a variety of tasks, some being good and some being bad. For example, you could use your body to defend yourself in an emergency, while you can also use your body to hurt an innocent person. Aikido helps us train ourselves to use our bodies in a good way. Additionally, it isn’t necessary to have a lot of physical strength in Aikido. Gozo ShiodasaysinhisbookT otalAikido:TheMaster’sCourse,“Whenweuse physical strength we normally assume we are dependent on the power of our muscles. In aikido, however, the power of the hips, legs, knees, abdomen, and so forth, are joined together and are then focused into one point…” Although this isn’t directly related to a peaceful life, aikido works so you have to use all points of your body harmoniously, which will help create a balanced
environment within yourself. One of the biggest reasons aikido is referred to as “The Art of Peace” or “the gentlemen’s art” is because the goal is to defend yourself while hurting the opponent as little as possible. This will allow a peaceful resolution to any conflict. In the real world, if a stranger provokes an attack on you, you can do an Aikido technique to show that they should not be messing with you, rather than you attempting to overpower them in brute strength, which will resolve in more aggression, which leads to more violence. And again, assertiveness comes into the mix. You aren’t beating up your opponent, but you’re not letting the opponent beat you up without doing anything to fight back. To summarize, aikido can be effective in the real world through your body so that you can defend yourself while still maintaining a peaceful environment.
The third and last key point to bringing the Art of Peace into our daily lives is the spirit. Our spirits are what define us; they show who we really are under the skin. Aikido helps maintain a calm spirit because of its gentle nature. For example, as one practices techniques that are not harmful towards the opponent, they will start adapting those practices to their daily lifestyle, which will calm the spirit. Meanwhile, people whose spirits have a more aggressive approach to conflict will doubt the effectiveness of Aikido, due to its subtle defensetactics.GozoShiodasaidhimselfinhisbookA ikidoShugyo:Harmonyin Confrontation that “It seems like there are many people who have doubts about Aikido’s strength as a martial art.” In fact, the Art of Peace will work best when
the shtei has a balanced posture, and is focused on the technique. That way, all the attention and power will be directed towards the opponent. This will come naturally if shtei has a balanced spirit. If their spirit is unbalanced, they will divert their attention to whatever else is on their minds, thus reducing the power focused on the uke. So, if one has a balanced spirit, Aikido will come easily to them on and off the mat. Even if one is mentally unbalanced when they start practicing Aikido, the Art of Peace will start to complement and improve their inner balance, which will eventually start to show in their daily lifestyles. To wrap up this point, Aikido will show in anyone’s life if they can gather and maintain a balanced spirit, which can be easily acquired through the teachings of Aikido.
In conclusion, Aikido can be represented in our everyday lifestyles off the mat in many ways, all being shown through the mind, body, or spirit. KanshuSunaDomari.com, the official Manseikan Aikido website, refers to Aikido as “How we can get rid of evil spirits of our body, cleanse our soul and harmonize with the universe.” Aikido is an art of many forms, but each little technique embraces the values of harmony and peace. No matter if we are in or out of the dojo, we will always take a part of the Aikido lifestyle with us wherever we go. Thank you.