“Aikido, in its true Ki form, is a fierce art piercing straight through the centre of opposition.

MORIHIRO SAITO SENSEI 9th Dan 

According to Saito Sensei 9th dan and direct student of the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba:

“Aikido is generally believed to represent circular movements. Contrary to such belief, however, Aikido in its true Ki form is a fierce art piercing straight through the centre of opposition. The nature of the art being such that you are not supposed to adapt yourself to your partner by making a wide oblique turn of your body but are called upon to find your way onward while twisting your hips.

Since you are practising Ki exercise in this particular instance, you are expected, ideally speaking, not to touch your partners hands and feet. This does not mean that the act of leading your partner’s Ki and thereby adapting yourself to and harmonising with him may well be omitted. Real Ki exercise is the ultimate form of flowing exercise.”

After performing Ki exercise the Founder once observed that: “I am what I am today precisely because I have been carrying on solid exercises for as long as 60 years”.

Talking about Aikido

Saito Sensei was asked in an interview; Why do many Aikido Masters not talk much about  O’Sensei’s techniques. His answer was straightforward:

There are many aikido masters, but only a few who had a lot of teaching from O’Sensei himself. In true budo, you do not express yourself in words or writing. “God does not give grace to those who talk too much.” This is what O’Sensei said. Usually people who talk a lot and write good essays cannot also do good aikido. It is better not to talk too much, but to learn with the body.

It is true that people are different. Some learn with their minds by listening, while others learn with their bodies by watching. But the Founder always said, “If you show someone the way, you first have to do it yourself, demonstrate and show it.” That means, for example, you make them understand irimi by entering behind your partner and not pulling them to one’s own body.”

Interview by Franziska Roller and Miles Kessler, May 1999.

How to throw your partner and The Meaning of Ukemi

Saito Sensei explained that:

“There are often those who fancy themselves great by virtually knocking their partners down flat on the mat. Their concept of hard training is utterly wrong.

The essence of real training lies in the throwing process. When let loose mercilessly, Aikido techniques do not allow Ukemi (defensive rolls and somersaults).

It therefore behooves you to throw your partner in such a manner that he can respond with Ukemi without fear of injury. The purpose of Aikido training is to build up strength, not to inflict injury.”

AIKIDO Volume 5: Training works Wonders. Pages 36, 41.

An Example

A perfect example of each of these matters:

  • explaining by demonstration not explanation
  • how to throw your partner and
  • the way of moving straight through the opponent not round and round in a circle,

is graphically and superbly demonstrated by this video of Morihiro Saito Sensei performing at the 1978 All Japan Aikido demonstration with ukes, Shigemi Inagaki and Bruce Klickstein.