Aikido magazines, leaflets and literature of every Aikido organisation, the Masters’ writings, common aikidoka, all repeat the following sing-song, like a well tuned and conducted chorus: Aikido is not a sport. It is instead a high level spiritual path, which covers every aspect of one’s life and aims to improve the inner well being of the student. A noble declaration of intents indeed, but what about the actual commitment to act upon it? Sport people do better!
di SIMONE CHIERCHINI
The function of Aikido as lifetime path is what mostly interests Aikido people and it is usually what attracts most of those who join our discipline for the first time. That is what differentiates Aikido from other activities in various fields – sports, philosophy, culture or religion. We all get our feathers ruffled when outsiders mistake Aikido for a sport; moreover, none of us would like Aikido teachings to be confused with those of one of the many new born religions that are trendy today.
We are genuinely proud to nourish the feeling within that the Art we committed to is really being beneficial for us. Being aikidoka also distinguishes us from other people who are unable to spare a part of their day-time to take care of their inner growth; and this in a time when most prefer to spend their spare time in less beneficial activities or doing nothing.
The above well fine tuned sing-song has a truthful and well-deserved reason to be. It is a pity though that, like in all human things, between words and action everything gets in the way.
In fact, if you really want to verify the reality of that sing-song, you will notice that among those chorus singers Tom and Jerry have to share their spare time between the activity A and B; every second class Betty is so tired that can just sit on the couch watching telly; Franco, then, just doesn’t go to the training, even if he’s not busy. The younger ones have the noble excuse to be in trouble with their school home-work, though millions of school students have exactly the same problem…
Someone could rightly say that, if Aikido is undoubtedly not a sport, it is also true that many Aikido practitioners are just sport-men: basically they are different from body-building or basket-ball trainees only in relation to the different kind of movements and techniques they engage in.
For what it concerns the rest they are definitely the same. Actually, to be honest, worse: a football coach, for example, would exclude from the team activity those players that are absent from training sessions without a proven reason.
We could easily object that the first rule of Aikido practice concerns the acceptance of our fellow students, it doesn’t matter in which manner they manifest themselves.
The laziness that we notice in other people, their behavior that often annoys us, what we call in them defects, all that is a sort of mirror reflecting our own lacks.
Having said that, it is be better to be reminded of the following: it is a shame to own a Ferrari car and drive it always at 20 miles an hour…
First published in 1993 on the Aikido Dojo Katharsis Milano Newsletter