Aikido is Life
I have not given this title much thought until I read Tsutomu Chida Shihan’s words about Aikdio. Like many Yoshinkan Aikidoka, I’m afraid I have used this phrase on and off the tatami a few times but never gave it deep thought.
It is generally accepted through anecdote or through reports that Gozo Shioda had uttered those three words ‘Aikido is Life’ (most likely in Japanese- Aiki Soku Seikatsu), perhaps to mean that Aikido is like life, or that Aikido is his life, or that Aikido should be approached in the same manner we approach life , or indeed the other way around.
A link I read today about Tsutomu Chida shihan, once a top yoshinkan instructor and formal head of International Yoshinkan Aikido Federation and now founder and director of Renshinkai, made it really clear as to what Aikido is or should be about, at least from his point of view.
Generally, people will compare themselves to others when doing almost anything in life, looking around to assess where they stand amongst their peers and contemporaries, it is also very common to get a bit competitive with others and to lose track of the actual goal that is self awareness and development -a higher and more noble goal- to a far less important and superficial goal -attaining rank/title. When we say or repeat that Aikido is not about strength but about using whole body movements and discipline to over come a bigger opponent we must put our faith in that.
The only way Aikido will work for us is if we make the our only competition between ourselves today and ourselves yesterday. All we need to worry about is answering the following question; am I better today than I was yesterday/last week/last month? etc. If the answer to that is ‘yes’ then we are on the right track, if the answer is no, then ask your instructor to point where you are going wrong then reevaluate your goals and training mindset.
Chida sensei in an interview once said:
“When you talk about budo, the image people get is that of fighting – but really the fight is about you now, and you tomorrow. Of course, there is also you yesterday. Everyday you turn into a new person”
I really like that quote, it is not easy to make yourself your only battle, it is not easy to see people around you surpass you in rank because we all have ego, but its not about ego, and its not about who we are today, its about getting better and about who we want to be tomorrow. If we really want the shortest way to improvement then diverting our focus inwardly is certainly the first step on the right path, it is also perhaps the most important step on to that path.