Masthead Logo of Trafford Aikido

"Centre" and other matters

Ai = Harmony
Ki = Creative Energy
Do = Way

Aikido involves the mind as well as the body. In order to achieve good powerful technique you must be able to concentrate without distraction. This concentrated awareness of your partner and what is going on around you is called Zanshin. Among other things this awareness is needed to guage Ma'ai, or correct fighting distance.

Breathing should be co-ordinated with movement and specifically we are taught to breathe out when throwing or applying technique and when taking ukemi. Breath power is called Kokyu and special exercises called Kokyu-Ho are performed together with breathing exercises to develop correct breathing and the extension of Ki. Throws performed with breath power are called Kokyu-Nage.


We are taught to use 'unbendable arm' (which will be demonstrated to you) rather than muscle strength, when making technique. We seek to develop power through relaxation and extension of Ki and this in itself requires the right mental attitude.

Movements in Aikido are performed so as to maintain balance and a low centre of gravity. Turning movements and power come from the area of the hips. The body's centre of gravity, a point roughly two inches below the navel known as Hara, or Tanden, or 'the One Centre', is viewed as the centre for all movement.

The combination of concentration, correct movement and breathing adds an extra dynamism to technique. This extra energy is Ki and is believed in the East to be a Universal Force in all of Nature. Indeed, without Ki there is no Aikido, only technique. The goal of Aikido is "the unification of the fundamental creative principle, Ki, permeating the universe, and the individual Ki, inseparable from breath-power, of each person". (see "The Spirit of Aikido", by Kisshomaru Ueshiba).


Some people in the West have difficulty with this idea and it is very difficult to translate. Japanese Ki is equivalent to the Chinese Chi, as in Tai Chi, and is related to the Sanskrit Prana in Yoga philosophy and breathing practices.

Ki can be felt even when it cannot be defined in words. Mr Mucha said, "If you don't believe in Ki you will never have it". It is through practice and experience that Aikidoka find their own understanding of Ki.


Aikido Throw

Go to the others pages that appeared in our Beginner's booklet originally