EXCERPT FROM THE 1938 TRAINING MANUAL BUDO
WRITTEN BY O’SENSEI
1. Aikido training can determine life or death with a single blow; therefore, when training, observe the directions of the instructor's teachings and do not engage in contests of strength.
2. Aikido is the way in which one is equivalent to thousands; therefore when training, one always needs to be mindful, not only of the front, but also of four and eight directions.
3. Training should always be done in an enjoyable manner.
4. The Instructor can only impart one portion of the teachings. To be able to utilise a technique, one must learn it through his/her own experience of diligent and ceaseless training. It is only at this time that one will begin to remember with one’s body. There is no purpose in wanting or pursuing many techniques. To master a technique, one needs to make each technique, one by one, their own.
5. Daily training begins with tai no henko. Gradually increase the degree of intensity. One needs to make sure not to overexert the body. Even any elder should have no injury. Continue to train enjoyably and strive to obtain the purpose of training.
6. Aikido is the training of mind and body. Its purpose is to produce sincere people. Since all techniques are entirely secret, they should not be revealed indiscriminately to the public. Wrongful use of any technique, by anyone, is to be avoided.
The Principles listed below are presented separately but are in fact all connected. There is a little bit in each technique, but we will look at them in isolation:
1. Adopt a neutral, non-aggressive relaxed stance.
2. Don’t wait to be attacked. Offer the area that you want to be attacked or grabbed – this way you take the initiative and draw the attack out. You don’t wait for it. This gives your opponent the illusion that he has taken the initiative whereas actually you have.
3. Don’t clash with your opponent’s strength or meet it head on – move with or around it and use it.
4. Blend with your partners’ movements by matching and mirroring the speed and timing of the attack.
5. The fuel that powers Aikido is called Kokyu (literally abdominal breath power). This is different to muscular strength; it evolves over time and practice through hard, structured training.
6. Train hard, fight easy is a military maxim that works equally well here. In the beginning we train from being grabbed or attacked strongly (allowing ourselves to be put in a weak position) and then execute the technique from there. This strengthens the body of both attacker and defender. “If a martial art does not make you stronger, it should not be called a martial art” – Morihiro Saito.
7. Stay physically and mentally relaxed through controlled breathing.
8. Maintain a 360 degree awareness, never train as though you have only one attacker.
9. Weapons’ training in Aikido allows us to practice the principles in a clearer, more isolated way because you are unhampered by egotistical battles of strength.