A Paradox in the Martial Arts

Black-robed ninjas prowling darkened streets…   Samurais in braids squaring off, blades glinting…  Perhaps enormous sumo wrestlers in diapers reaching critical mass…  Whatever image comes to mind when the concept of martial arts comes up, it is likely not one of receptivity, awareness, or compassion.  The term ‘martial,’ after all, implies warfare.

The Aikido class offered at Explorations Academy this term was not, however, aimed at teaching teenagers to be warlike.  Instead, students focused upon centered movement, awareness of others, and maintaining a strong, flexible posture.

Aikido is defined as the art of blending energy, which makes it unique among the martial arts.  Founded in the early part of the 20th Century by Morihei Ueshiba, Aikido is rooted in the idea that it is not victory in combat that serves human needs, but victory over combat.  In other words, the blending of energy that is at the core of Aikido requires receptivity and awareness to be effective and is driven by compassion.  A skilled Aikidoka possesses the capacities of a martial artist, while using those capacities for the resolution of conflict.

This marriage of strength and receptivity is a powerful one for young people.  At a time when they are challenged to become comfortable in their changing bodies, the posture, balance, and physical organization of martial arts training is extremely useful.  And when dealing with others is particularly difficult, the concept of harmonizing, and working with, a potential adversary, is a profoundly effective approach.

Thus, for two afternoons per week this Fall, Explorations Academy students headed over to the Aikido Peace Education Center, a few blocks from the school, to don traditional white pajama-like outfits and learn the basics of this unique martial art.  A few basic throws, some healthy and safe ways to fall, and above all, the discipline of moving from center, kept them not just occupied, but engaged in re-learning how to live inside their bodies and how to respond effectively to others.  We are indebted to the Aikido Peace Education Center for making this collaboration possible, for the benefit not only of our students, but of everyone they work with!


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One Comment on “A Paradox in the Martial Arts”

  1. Thank your for your sharing. I like this post

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