Welcome to the South Devon Aikikai
Thanks for looking at our site, which is about the South Devon Aikikai; who we are, where we practise, what we practise and why we practise!
If you want to learn aikido with us, please just contact us and come along for a free trial session (wear something like a tracksuit - something loose and comfortable).
What is Aikido?
Aikido is a modern martial art; developed from ancient martial traditions, but (argueably) more relevent to a non-feudal world than some others. It is an idealised model - less immediately martial than boxing but with a longer term aim; to read situations instinctively and avoid openings. Training internalises good coordination and powerful movements which can be applied to any number of situations. Crucially, because the skills depend on experience, timing and coordination rather than strength or speed, training does NOT peak at 30 or so; you can practise and improve in aikido for the rest of your life.
"If we practise with strength then at some point we meet the block, after which comes old age, which can only be experienced as loss"
We learn in a framework of negotiable cooperation. It is not a sport - there are no rules per se; no categories of age or gender or weight. We practise and deepen martial princples (which can have numerous applications) by working with all others.
Learning aikido is a potentially life changing experience because the framework allows us to explore human interaction and what it is to be a human being through kinaesthetic interaction, within a structured progression of increasingly demanding techniques where we addresss our responces to threat.
In Japan training is without speaking; so as to develop a visceral understanding of the human condition. At South Devon Aikikai we follow this principle, though of course speaking can be useful for beginners.
The agenda is to develop good alignment in movement, and embed techniques which allow an attack to fail. It is a physical, psychological and (with enough regular training) spiritual discipline (in the sense that training can effect fundamental change in one's response to exterior influences).
A word about different types of aikido
O'Sensei - Morehei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969) (who created aikido) had many students. All were different, in physique and mentality and O'Sensei did not try to make clones of himself, rather he allowed each person to gain (in their own way) from the study of the art. A few had very strong backgrounds in other martial arts or had particular perspectives (health or self-defence) and some of these formed their own groups, seperate from the aikikai (the main body of practitioners). Goza Shioda formed Yoshinkan Aikido, Koichi Tohei formed Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, Morihiro Saito formed Iwama aikido, ...
In my experience, at high levels, it can be hard to distinguish between these styles, but in the early stages the differences are often highlighted.
It is a fundamental precept in the aikikai that (having learnt the basics - normally at shodan - 1st degree black belt) one should start to develop one's own interpretation of the martial art - an expresion of your own personality, physique and propensities. Every person is different, and training in aikido is something that effects different people in different ways.
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