In my time as an Aikidoka, this is a question I have heard asked countless times and in numerous forms and to be fair, normally by new students.

“What if they do this?”,
“Why don’t we do that?”,
“Why do we do that?”
and so on.

Sometimes these are born of a thirst for knowledge, sometimes these are born of scepticism or doubt, but always the answer must be the same…

Trust in Sensei and do as you are told.


For some this is hard and actually I am one of those people. I am personally driven by a need to understand; to pull things apart and see what makes them tick. However, Aikido is a life-long journey and before one can understand the ‘why’, one must start with the ‘how’.

Ask yourself why you ask the question:

  • Do you doubt the words of those instructing you?
  • Do you not trust in those leading your journey through Aikido?
  • Do you have any doubt that there are good reasons for the ways things are done, whether you know them or not?

If the answer to any of these questions is “yes”, then you are in the wrong dojo. Where-ever the fault here lies, you are not suited to the dojo, or it is not suited to you and you should move on, or work on developing that trust.

You must trust in your Sensei and Sempai to know the ‘why’ and know that what they do every time they instruct you, is keeping you on the path to understanding it yourself.

Q: “So does this mean I should not ask questions?”

A: No. But there is a time and a place. Our time on the mat is limited and precious. If there is something you have been asked to do that you do not understand… just do it to the best of your ability. Put sincerity and dedication into trying to achieve that which your Sensei has put in-front of you, knowing that there will be a time for questions and understanding the ‘why’ is exactly what your Sensei is trying to prepare you for.

Shodan to some is the finish line. The point at which you ‘know it all’ and can move on to something else. This however could not be further from the truth. Shodan is the acceptance of your peers that you have a basic grasp of the ‘how’. That is all. You still now need to develop the ‘why’. Only now, you have the tools to begin doing it.

I personally will assume that the day I complete my journey and understand all of the 'why' is the day I have failed to comprehend any of them. This will be the day I strip myself of the belt from my waist and start over from scratch. I hope to never reach the end of my journey and I hope the same for anyone else.

It will take you, as it has all that take on this journey, a lifetime of study to understand some of what there is to be known and very few, sparing only the masters perhaps, ever come close to finishing the journey. But know this… By the time you understand the ‘why’, if you have Sensei and Sempai that care for your development, you will already have a good understanding of the ‘how’ to support you.

by Mann Sensei
Mann Sensei