Dynamics of Aikido
The essence of all Aikido technique is spherical motion around a stable, energized center. Even when the direction appears to be straight forward or backward, close observations reveal the Aikidoist's movement to be circular. Some techniques may result in spectacular high-falls, others are small, deft movements to imbalance or immobilize the partner. Both kinds are achieved through precise leverage, centering, and the usage of inertia, gravity, and centrifugal and centripetal forces. An attack is neutralized through circular and fluid movements, and ultimately, the ``attacker's'' energy is mirrored back and oncoming energy is redirected to its source.
Aikidoists acquire a relaxed posture where the body's weight is focused towards the physiologic center in the ``hara'', the lower abdomen. Gravity, no longer a force to be overcome, serves to support and stabilize posture. Ordinary movements appear graceful and economic. Centering is a physical, mental, and spiritual phenomenon -- the body's state becomes a metaphor for the inner condition and its expression in ki, life-force itself.
Increased stamina, flexibility, and muscle development are natural results of continuous training, yet the techniques themselves do not depend on strength for effectiveness. Aikido can be practiced by men and women of all ages. Aikido techniques utilize and develop a person's balance, awareness, and inner strength. Students of Aikido learn to remain calm in stressful situations, find alternatives to conflict, protect themselves and others, and gain a sense of discipline and persistence. Training is non-competitive, yet intense, as each person strives to ``defeat'' the discord within oneself in order to find inner and outer harmony. Most practice is done with a partner, each working on his or her own level of ability, alternating as uke (attacker) or nage (receiving and blending with the attack). Both roles are important, refining skills of situational awareness, timing and body control.
Through the practice of Aikido, cooperation, self-confidence and conflict resolution can be learned in an enjoyable atmosphere.