The “dojo” or training hall is the place for the study of “the way”. There are many reasons why people choose to study Aikido; it is a martial discipline that teaches non-violent techniques for controlling even armed assailants, the techniques are powerful yet flowing, and practice develops centering, blending and dynamic extension of energy movements.
Japanese martial “do” or ways, are roads that teach not only technical proficiency but also a spiritual and ethical basis to living. Aikido is not a religion and does not preach any set of fixed beliefs or cosmology but is practised by people of all religions. When O’Sensei was asked if his principles of Aiki budo (the harmonious martial way) were taken from religion, he replied:“No. My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion.”
He also stated that:“True budo is the work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings, and not killing or struggling with each other. Love is the guardian diety of everything. Nothing can exist without it. Aikido is the realization of love.”
It is our practice, adopting the customs of the Iwama dojo, to bow at the start and end of each class and to each other during practice. Our bows (as is the custom in Asian countries) are out of respect for each other and the knowledge we have been given.
Because our basic practice is to take turns performing the Aikido movements, it means we entrust to each other the responsibility to take care and protect us from injury. It is for this reason, a reminder of that trust and respect, that we bow to each other.