“taiiku” Physical Education
Despite all protestations to the contrary, Aikidō is, of course, first of all sports, i.e. according to Duden Dictionary (2001), “physical exercise for the joy of movement and play, or else to keep oneself physically fit”. The Brockhaus Sports Lexicon (2007) brings it even better to the point: Sports is the “generic term for the manifold forms of physical activity, which are oriented towards playful self-expression as well as striving for achievement, that are supposed to serve both the mental and physical agility as well as the general well-being.”
Accordingly, the major part of Aikidō training consists of “physical activity exercised for mental and physical fitness”. Put another way: A typical training session consists mainly of active, dynamic movement. No matter what goals you pursue in Aikidō, you can only achieve these through regular and intensive training. This is true in every sense of the word: No pain, no gain! That in Aikidō no competitions are held makes it even a popular sport in the best sense.
(Although it should not be withheld that there are styles Aikidō, which hold competitions, Tomiki Aikidō being the most famous of them.)
“bujutsu” Martial Techniques
As a system of martial arts Aikidō also quite claims to teach fighting. While during practice partners will be working together and help each other to improve, this is still an interpersonal conflict simulated in a controlled environment. You are fighting both with your own laziness and incompetence, as well as with an “aggressor”. To make that possible, a good balance of resistance and collaboration between partners is necessary. Does the “attacker” not offer (well balanced) resistance, the practitioner is not able to determine whether his technique works or not. Obviously, you will never gain the technical skill to compete against real opposition. Therefore, despite all cooperation during practice Aikidō is not dancing!
(Author: Max Seinsch)