Aikido is a martially viable form of self-defense. O’Sensei studied many different martial arts, taking the best aspects of each to create Aikido. Many of the techniques in Aikido are based upon the movement patterns of weapons techniques. The person who employs Aikido intends to redirect their attacker’s energy or power to either subdue or throw them with just enough force to cause the least amount of pain or injury.
Aikido is a great way to get into or stay in shape. Aikido training improves one’s physical fitness which provides an advantage in any physical conflict. The classes are vigorous which benefits not only the muscles, but also our cardiovascular system as well. Some students come to train to develop flexibility while others train to lose or maintain body weight. An added benefit is that many students find that their posture improves. The movements of Aikido are based upon the natural movements of the human body using the body as a whole, which creates a balance between left and right side, top and bottom. A few students have also reported relief from chronic pain.
Aikido’s provides mental health benefits. We have learned from our students that many mental health practitioners are now prescribing Aikido training for its therapeutic benefits. Some of the therapeutic benefits might come from the actual physical exercise which stimulates the release of endorphins while others can come from being able to let go of tension or stress. The movements of Aikido are designed to teach us how to be balance and center not only on the mat but life as well. As we learn to be more free-flowing and flexible with our bodies we find the same thing happening with our minds too.
Misogi means to purify one’s self. Based upon the philosophy of Aikido, when we vigorously train we are purifying ourselves. We breathe deeply; we sweat; we release tension. We are purging ourselves of physical and mental impurities.
Our dojo’s founder, Reverend Kensho Furuya Sensei wrote:
Aikido as “misogi-waza” is to purify ourselves. It is interesting to note that in Japanese mythology, we come from a state of absolute purity. We continue to clean and purify the “dust” and “accumulations” away from our lives and preserve this purity - this is misogi.
This state of “purity” we aspire to achieve in our Aikido training as misogi must be (can be) the pure state allowing the body, mind and spirit to heal away from all impurities.