Before I started training in Aikido I had spent two decades studying other forms of martial arts. Most of them were very martial which means a lot of physical contact and ultimately I could see that as my body ages I would not be able to keep up this level of intensity.
I was also concerned about the ever increasing amount of injuries that I was getting from training in these other styles. This led me to looking around for a martial art that I’d be able to do for the rest of my life that helped with self-defence and was kinder to my body.
That’s when I stumbled across Aikido. I didn’t really know much about it at the time except for what I had seen Steven Seagal do in the movies. From the very first time I went along to train I fell in love with it. Yes, the training was hard but as I watched the higher grades training together I was mesmerized by how relaxed and graceful they appeared to be when practicing together..
Since then, I have come to understand why it is that I love Aikido and the enormous amount of benefits that I see showing up in my life as a result of training in this particular style of martial art.
Here are the top 5 ways that I see Aikido helping to improve your life:
1. It teaches you to stay centered even when under pressure.
If someone had of said to me prior to training in Aikido that you can stay calm and relaxed while being attacked by 4 or more people and manage to stay in control I would had laughed at them. Now, I’m able to stay relaxed and alert no matter how much force an opponent may use. In fact, the harder someone tries to attack, the easier it is to use their energy against them. If you apply this same principle to your work and home life, especially during those times that you feel under pressure then it’s easier to remain centered amongst the chaos going on around you. The benefit of this is that stress gets easier to manage which is a Godsend because stress is one of the biggest health and productivity killers around.
2. It helps builds confidence.
Confidence is a big topic for many people as it one of those things that you either have or you don’t. Some people are confident in some areas of their life while lacking in other areas. What Aikido does is give you confidence that you are in charge of your mind and body. As we have thousands of thoughts every day it is no surprise that what goes on in your head has a big impact on your quality of life. Through Aikido training, you are able to have a more focused mind that is clearer, calmer, and more self-assured. When you are confident in your mind and body, then it’s easier to be confident in all areas of your life.
3. It is good for your body.
I never would have thought that this would be true of a martial art. Since training in Aikido though my body has never felt so relaxed yet so energized, flexible and strong. It’s not like training in cardio or weights as that’s purely physical. In Aikido, the physical part of the training is for helping to learning techniques and how to be more coordinated in your mind and body. You learn things like rolling and moving out of way from an attack, how to control the space around you so you can’t be harmed, and how to always be moving your body while staying relaxed. While there is a lot of physical activity in Aikido it’s all done with the intention of staying relaxed yet connected to your body.
4. It helps you to be more compassionate.
Aikido really is the art of peace. You train not to learn how to attack or defend you train to learn how to have enough awareness of mind and body to be able to redirect the energy of an opponent so as they don’t hurt you or themselves. When you are able to confidently move out of the way of a verbal, emotional, or physical attack and then calmly redirect that energy back to where it came from then you have mastered the art of true compassion. Compassion is not about being weak and doing nothing, it’s about being aware of how you can best create peace where currently there is none.
5. It’s all about self-development.
There’s a saying that if you are not growing then you are decaying. What this means is that if you don’t make the time to work on bettering yourself then nothing much will ever change in your life. Aikido is a lifelong program in self-improvement. It teaches you that true power comes from softness and that no matter how good you might think you are at anything if you stay humble and keep beginner’s mind then you’ll always be opening to learning. You learn so much about your mind and body when training which is invaluable because it helps you to be the best version of yourself that you can be.
While Aikido might not be everyone’s cup of tea I’m certain that it is for everyone. Whether you are 5 years old or 80 years old Aikido has something to offer for your mind, body and spirit. It is an art form that is really about living more fully and freely in your body. It also teaches you the skill to work with or get out of the way of negative energy so that you don’t get so easily dragged into it and be a victim of circumstance.
If you haven’t tried an Aikido class yet then perhaps it’s time to look into it for yourself and see if it’s something that will benefit you and where you’re headed in life. Aikido is also great for kids as it helps boost their self-esteem and teaches them so simple skills to help with bullying of any kind. In most clubs the first lesson is almost always free which makes it easy to check it out. I look forward to possibly training with you on the mat some day.