Aikido has often been described as an art that was founded by Morihei Uyeshiba in the 1940s. He took existing martial arts based on Aiki – harmonizing energy – and integrated them into one system of practice which he named Aikido; Do meaning way. Aikido then is the Way of Harmonizing with the Life Force of the Universe, in other words, the Way of Harmonizing Ki.
Aiki though has existed since ancient times and can be traced to many thousands of years before and has been one of the main practices of an ancient system of mind/body/spirit training called Shin Sen Do in Japanese.
What O’Sensei (Morihei Uyeshiba) did was, through his intensive training research, bring forth this ancient principle in a renewed and revitalized way. Also he had trained in Aiki Jujitsu which was a slightly harder form. He was searching for a new expression of training based on his enlightenment experiences.
Aikido then became an art with revolutionary new concepts in martial arts. The key one being to protect the attacker and blend with the energy and intent of the attack. Also it had no competitions with the aim to overcome the competitive mind within and discover our deeper self – that can move in harmony with all situations.
One of the interesting meeting of minds in Aikido, and not very well known, was that between George Ohsawa and O’Sensei. George Ohsawa, who brought modern macrobiotics out to the west, by chance had his Macrobiotic Dojo down the street from O’Sensei’s Aikido Dojo.
When George first saw O’Sensei’s Aikido in action he exclaimed “This is the unifying principle in action! His every movement is in accord with the Universe.” George Ohsawa had earlier in the 20th Century taught the unifying principle of yin and yang in Europe where he introduced flower arrangement, judo, acupuncture and various other Do’s (traditional ways). He was interested in the underlying principle behind all these arts.
He gave O’Sensei a consultation and found him to be very strong based on his training and previous diet. One of the main recommendations he gave was for O’Sensei to go back to brown rice rather than the white rice which he had adopted in later years. O’Sensei immediately returned to brown rice and basically followed a simple Macrobiotic Vegetarian Diet with some fish for the rest of his life.
On his part, George Ohsawa immediately recommended his students go and train with O’Sensei in Aikido. One of his notable students was Seigo Yamaguchi. From humble beginnings, Yamaguchi gradually influenced Aikido throughout the world with his unique natural, spontaneous approach to Aiki and through his art of connection through the center of his Uke.
After O’Sensei died in 1969, the Aikido world split into several streams lead by his senior students. His son Kissomaru led the Aikikai organisation and his Chief Instructor, Koichi Tohei, broke away to form the Ki Society. He did this because he felt that after O’Sensei’s death the emphasis on Ki was disappearing.
Over time, various other streams have formed.
Ken McLean Sensei has for nearly 40 years, intensively researched these streams to form a holistic way of Aikido that reflects the original essence of Aiki. One of the meanings of Shin Sen is “Place where all streams meet”. People that have trained in the Aikido of Shin Sen have found that they have been able to easily fit into any Aikido dojo in the world and easily fit in and adapt and even excel in that style.
This reflects the true meaning of Aiki – to be able to blend with any interaction.
The Aikido of Shin Sen embodies the most positive aspects of Aikido and is an integration of the deeper principles of Ki, through a training form to develop all the potential of the human being.
How can Aikido benefit me?
There are many and varied benefits of doing Aikido. On the physical level, one’s fitness, health and flexibility improves. Mentally one develops deeper levels of calmness and relaxation so the ability to comfortably deal with stress and challenge improves. The ability to stay centered, grounded and positive amidst attack increases so that unbalanced situation can be guided back to harmony and balance.
Energy levels increase so that one can give more of one’s self to the areas of one’s life you wish to express more.
On a practical self-defense level you develop the ability to comfortably and enjoyably deal with multiple attackers as you train to develop “the State of Flow” that Aikido brings out. This in the zone state then can be applied to daily life – leading to living a full, wonderful and adventurous life.
How fit do I need to be to do Aikido?
Any level of fitness and suppleness is fine. Even if you have done no exercise for sometime its ok. Aikido works gently and non forcefully and supports everyone in working at their own pace. Gradually you feel your fitness and flexibility improve.
Can I come for a trial class?
Most certainly. Come and have a free class to see if you enjoy the training and if you wish to continue. There is no obligation.