The Martial Kindness of Aiki
“In my opinion, it [aikido] can be said to be the true martial art. The reason for this is that it is a martial art based on universal truth. This Universe is composed of many different parts, and yet the Universe as a whole is united as a family and symbolizes the ultimate state of peace. Holding such a view of the Universe, aikido cannot be anything but a martial art of love. It cannot be a martial art of violence.”
Aiki is the power of harmony,
Of all beings, all things working together.
Relentlessly train yourself—Followers of the Way.
What distinguishes aikido from all the other martial arts is its philosophy, which aims at restoring harmony in combat situations. In concrete terms, the aikidoka will lead the attacker, the uke, in a circular movement that will neutralize the attack and thus render it pointless. The goal is therefore not to destroy or injure the attacker, but to lead him toward a new situation. Born from the synthesis of combat martial arts whose goal was to be able to vanquish adversaries who were physically stronger, aikido developed by applying the principle inherited from jiu-jitsu according to which the soft person controls the stiff and the flexible person conquers the rigid. The aikidoka is in the center of the movement, this immobile space that connects him to the universe and allows him to develop the harmony of the body and spirit in accord with “the truth of the universe.” Aikido practice is more than the search for mere personal balance. To take on its full magnitude, it ought to be part of a more universal balance.
“Nen is never concerned with winning or losing, and it grows by becoming properly connected to the ki of the universe. ”
Aikido as it was conceived of by Morihei Ueshiba truly proposes a martial ethic: the aikidoka trains for combat but from a perspective of kindness. That is to say, he is always aware that victory is attained through peace and harmony.
The true challenge of the aikidoka is therefore not technical mastery with the intent of assuring him supremacy in combat, but the mastery of himself, of his emotions, and of his desire to resort to violence as a response to his opponent’s attack.
“The state of mind of the Aikidoka must be peaceful and totally nonviolent. That is to say, that special state of mind which brings violence into a state of harmony. And this I think is the true spirit of Japanese martial arts. We have been given this earth to transform into a heaven on earth. Warlike activity is totally out of place.”
 Aside from two or three older students who are no longer with us, the direct students of Ueshiba were young Japanese, around twenty years old, who had difficulty understanding his speech and focused on the practice of techniques (according to the eyewitness account of Seishiro Endo, current technical director of the Tokyo Aikikai, during seminars that he has led in Belgium.)
 Traditionally, a master’s students (deshi) who lived in his house (uchi) were known as uchi-deshi.
 The quarrels between schools come more from questions of style and variations than from disagreements on the fundamentals.
 Excerpt from an interview with Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru by two anonymous journalists, and published in Japanese under the title “Aikido” by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Tokyo Kowado 1957. Japanese translation by Stanley Pranin for the periodical Aiki News No. 18, August 1976.
 Kisshomaru Ueshiba quoting Morihei Ueshiba in The Spirit of Aikido, page 31.
 Ibid., page 36.
 Nen is a Japanese term that is difficult to translate. According to Kisshomaru Ueshiba, it evokes the concentration of the spirit in the search for a certain form of unity of order in the universe. It is, for this reason, the heart of aikido practice. It is the principle of true practice. Without nen, practice cannot hope to go beyond the simple stage of technical prowess and could even lead to tragic consequences that can lead to destruction.
 Ibid., pp. 36-37.
 The Spirit of Aikido by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Tokyo, Kowado, 1957, pages 198-219.