Oct 282010

There is a saying, in which I believe, written by Basho: “Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.” This is a concept I have endeavored to follow in my years of Aikido practice. I have developed Hiriki Aikido to adapt and improve all styles of Aikido, to fill the gaps in technique and answer the questions left unanswered. The art of Hiriki Aikido is quite able to stand on its own merits, showing it to legitimately be a new style of aikido, the first American style. I feel there is no end to Aikido in general. There is always room to improve the art as an art form and as a martial science. True to the quotation, I sought what the men of old sought and found it within my art of Hiriki Aikido.

I believe Aikido is a martial science and intended by O Sensei to be that. But he also intended it to be a path of love for all mankind and a way to self-harmony. He often admonished students not to stray from the path of Aiki but I believe that many have because they have become encased in the indifference of “don’t ask, just do”. It is my intention to keep Hiriki Aikido both as a martial science and a martial way for self-improvement. Hiriki Aikido is unlike the “aiki aerobics” of many “traditional” forms of Aikido which require a passive partner to “work” with. Some call that blending. I call it lacking the ability to redirect the attacker where you want them to go. If you cannot perform the technique in the dojo without faking it how will it work in the street? Aikido is a martial science first and an art form second. If you can perform the martial science aspect of Aikido the art form is easy to accomplish. Performing Aikido without involving the use of Ki becomes a contest of who is stronger and larger in size; I do not believe this is true Aikido. I have found that strength fades with age so I have developed Hiriki Aikido techniques intertwining Ki and the dynamics of movement to deliver what is needed to complete the technique.

Many styles of Aikido, in my opinion, are becoming Aiki-aerobics: “Just dance around me while I make believe this will actually work in the street”. Sadly it will not. These styles have not adapted to the reality of a modern world and its changes in the new millennium. As an example, people rarely attack with an overhand strike any more. Why practice against it? It seems they hold to outmoded principals and in this process they often overlook the real concept of the technique.

Traditionalists say Aikido is non-aggressive. They say the art is a passive art. I say it is a very aggressive art because when performed correctly the Hiriki aikidoka is applying technique when the aggressor is just beginning to think about becoming aggressive; this is learned through training. I believe that the Hiriki aikidoka is a true Peaceful Warrior. I say this because to be truly peaceful you must have the power to destroy an opponent but choose not to do so. Doing this you show compassion to the opponent. Only a warrior who has overcome the challenge to both mind and body and faced the inner fears of the ego can be a true pacifist. The sword that takes life or the sword that gives life, this is true aikido; the ability to destroy life but the compassion to spare it. To have the ability to choose is a most important attribute of any martial art form. The ability to spare life or take life and having the confidence within the human spirit to truly know it; this is the true spirit of the Hiriki aikidoka, the Peaceful Warrior.

There is a popular concept that the art must come from Japan to be a true martial science. I say this: what matters is the martial science that is taught, not the land it came from. A Hiriki aikidoka realizes that he may have to use the art he is learning to save his life in this violent world. This awareness is the key to his safety. Too many traditional stylists do not care to believe they may be attacked sometime in their daily lives. They walk around with a false sense of security in their art form believing that the techniques they learned will ward off an attack that is trying to end their life. Unfortunately they may learn the truth too late.

Preserving the art form’s core is the right thing to do, of course, but Aikido was made to improve every day. Use the core as a base of learning and the core techniques & philosophies should be improved. O Sensei was asked if his techniques could be filmed. His response was “Why? It will change tomorrow“. It is regrettable that the many styles have forgotten this. A true art form will also reflect the teacher’s experiences and, most important, the innovations and discoveries of his art on his path. If that is not present the art form will be ineffectual and without real substance.

As a Sensei I am concerned with the safety of my students both inside the dojo and outside of it. I have been given the responsibility for their training and their safety both physical and mental and I am confident that, if need be, their training will perform to the level that they need to keep safe from harms way. The law enforcement personnel I train call Hiriki aikidoka “Aikido’s Bad Boys”. They say this because of the effectiveness of Hiriki in street applications for the law enforcement community.

I believe that practicing Aikido as a martial science is the true way to develop the inner self. It allows the inner self face fears and doubts and become victorious over them. Without the discipline of a martial science there is no challenge to the character of the student to improve their higher, inner self. I believe the true goal of O Sensei’s development of aikido was to improve the higher self and develop a caring respect for all humanity.

There must be awareness within the Aikido community that the reality of the twentyfirst century is not the same as when the original art form was born. In this modern world, the art form must be able to withstand the challenges as a martial science for both the body and the mind. Remember that most martial arts were developed in wartime contexts and the combative techniques changed to effectively overcome an opponent every time there was a change in the opponent’s tactics. When the conflict stopped the changes in technique often also stopped. Many of the martial arts forms now are just chronicles of those years during which they were developed.

I will not allow Hiriki to become static and develop holes in its techniques. This could endanger the safety of my students and violate their trust in Hiriki Aikido and myself. I know the art must become the student’s own. This means the art form will change with every student who walks the path of Hiriki Aikido. It will change ever so slightly to fit into the individual’s mindset and body characteristics. This is the way it should be. It is the obligation of the art to its students and it is my legacy to my students.

Hiriki Aikido was developed within the United States to ward off the violence of the land it in which it was developed. It was developed so Americans can grasp not only the physical aspects of the art but also the mental aspects of the art in a modern, realistic way without offending their own religious beliefs.

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