What Aikido isn’t…

A great article by Nev Sagiba aikiblue.com

Aikido is not making it up as you go and sort of flowing, hoping uke, or expecting uke to co-operate. That is a hoax and not Aikido. You may be kidding yourself or others but it would be kindred to pasting the word “democracy” over the door of a dictator’s office. Quaint, but you can’t fool all of the people forever.

So snap out of it.

There are foundational laws operating. Exact laws and principles which must be clear in your mind. If you do not know the basic techniques and principles you may well be mimicking a form, but you are not practicing Aikido. Specifically, if it is Aikido, when it is Aikido, it works MOST effectively when your attacker is NOT CO-OPERATING!

Let’s be clear about this. Beginner’s training is good but after six months you should begin to have half a clue.


There are almost two dozen PRINCIPLES which must also be crystal clear in your mind and you must understand groundwork, atemiwaza and buki.

Otherwise it is not Aikido.

You cannot erect a building without the foundations. Or presume to place the roof without walls to hold it up. Aikido dwells neither in a vacuum of ignorance nor a box of erroneous opinions. It is misogi and shugyo and requires solid foundations. The foundations of the basic kihon waza. Without a serious and firm basis in the basics it is but mere waffle and a deception. Aikido is Budo more than it is Odori.

From time to time I train around. I often get comments such as; “Gee, I haven’t seen that technique.”

This astounds me. It begs the question: Why not? All I did was a basic kihon. Now for beginners that’s cool. But for people having trained more than a year, that is unforgivable.
Every possible extrapolation, interpolation and derivative arises from the basic kihon. If you do not know the basics WHO ON EARTH IS “TEACHING” YOU? Or are you failing to pay attention?

There is not much there. The basics are just that. Basic. Once you know, these they act as keys to unlock all the other infinite potentials and yes, then you can flow freely in the takemusu of aiki. But not before. Maybe the basics should be called key-hon. Or a kata-log of basic essential keys.

But simply guessing around in a dancey way does not even resemble Aikido in any way. It becomes easy to see through the flowery stuff. I watched some “aikido” with some hard stylists who commented with full knowledge, “I could eat him for breakfast.” And I can tell you, they could indeed.

And then we trained some and they begged to stop. “This Aikido stuff is weird, maybe some of you guys have magic or a force field.”

Yes, it’s the magic of regular training with an open mind and leaving nothing out. As for a “force field”, no more or less than anyone else, except perhaps we learn to use it well.
Aikido is not guesswork or fudging or make believe or pretending or a dance form or mystically indwelling in a tidy well-pleated hakama or a posey way of strutting with your nose in the air, or any other thing it is not. Aikido is a science, an art and so much more.

But the basics have to be there. They have to be understood, tested tried and practiced daily. Otherwise it is not Aikido but a mere idea about something which does not exist.


4 Responses to What Aikido isn’t…

  1. Andrew says:

    Nice article. Would have been better if he had mentioned what the 12 or so basic pricples he had in mind were.

  2. V says:

    yes indeed, but then we’re supposed to know about them because we’ve trained for more than a year so we must be unforgivable.. 😮
    He feels quite strongly about it, feels like it was written in an anger stage.
    However there is a lot of truth in it, it does ring a bell on a level that I shall now expand in a post on the blog.. just gimme a minute and I’ll come up with it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Writer, I think you should spend less time intellecutalizing and more time practicing!


    hmmm. The guy that wrote this article I beleive is a professional Aikidoka and aikido author, so probably does put in a few hours a week! Commonets of that sort

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