Aiki, the guiding principle behind our Aiki Jujutsu classes, is a unique concept in martial arts. Unlike most styles, in Aiki Jujutsu we blend with the attacker's energy and redirect them into various locks or throws to subdue them with minimal effort. Let's explore the concept behind aiki.
If you look at the kanji for aiki, you'll notice two distinct characters. The first (ai) one symbolizes union and harmony, and it's shaped like a house which is the ultimate symbol of union (family). The second character (ki) represents energy. It's made to look like a tea pot boiling, with the steam as a visual reminder of the energy being released. Together, the two characters mean harmony with energy or blended energy.
Aiki Jujutsu, the parent art to Aikido, uses this concept of blended energy to use the attacker's energy and aggression against them. By using non-resistance techniques and natural body movements, the attacker is easily redirected and subdued. This allows even the small and weak to defend themselves regardless of their attacker's size.
Throughout martial arts history, Honor has been a core principle of practitioners worldwide. In feudal Japan, honor (meiyo in Japanese) was the main foundation of Bushido, the Samurai code of conduct. Honor was so important that a warrior would rather commit suicide after losing in battle than live with the shame of defeat.
In today's society, honor remains a crucial part of martial arts training. Honor is the concept of great respect and high esteem. In our practice, we honor the warriors and masters before us by continuing to teach traditional martial arts and paying tribute to their perseverance in spreading the arts. By respecting our school, our instructors and fellow students, we can continue to honor them and each other.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit" - Aristotle
Nothing in the martial arts has been so misunderstood or under appreciated as the Black Belt. Many students mistakenly believe that to reach Black Belt is the end of the journey, and it's an appropriate time to move onto other activities. Others devalue it to the point of going online and purchasing their own from one of the many supply stores that sell them, just to impress their friends. But really, what does it mean to BE a black belt?
A black belt by itself is a long strip of cotton that we tie around our uniforms to hold it in place, but what it represents is so much more. A black belt, at least in our school, represents years of hard work and dedication. It represents countless hours of practice working towards perfection. But most of all, a black belt represents a promise. A promise to continue, to persevere.
Black Belt isn't the end of the journey, but the beginning. In Japanese, when you reach black belt you are called a Shodan, literally meaning "first level." It's the equivalent of graduating from high school. You've mastered the foundation of your system and are ready to grasp greater concepts and technique. It's a doorway to finding your path in the martial arts.
Tonight, I want all of our students to really consider what it means to be a black belt, to always give your best, because remember:
"A Black Belt is simply a White Belt that never quit"