Most martial arts stress self-defense and discourage aggression, but aikido takes this idea a step further. Ai ki do means “love energy way.” In aikido the goal is to create harmony in the middle of conflict, and to do so without getting injured or injuring another person. As Sensei says in this novel, “It is wrong to hurt someone, so when you prevent someone from hurting you, you are doing him a favor.”
Aikido relies on throws and rolls and controlling techniques rather than on punches and kicks. Moving in circles, you deflect an attack by stepping toward it and using its energy, so that you are, in a sense, on the same side and there is no opponent. When you use an attacker’s energy and redirect his attack, you get the greatest effect with the least effort. Thus differences of age, size, gender, and muscle strength do not determine the outcome.
Students practice cooperatively, taking turns applying and receiving techniques --from sitting and standing positions, from front, side, or rear approach, and from single or multiple opponents, with or without weapons— until the postures and the dozens of defense patterns become reflex.
This is not physical training only. An aikidoka needs to be alert, centered and calm, and must develop the flexibility and generosity of spirit to understand an opponent’s feelings and intentions and to want what is best for him.