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Day 5 Sugano Sensei Remembrance/ "Aikido is not a martial art."

Brian Ericksen : Sensei, I started taking classes in Battodo. It has been very interesting to use a real sword and cut through things. As Aikido comes from the sword why don’t we learn to use the sword? Handling and cutting with the sword has given a new understanding and appreciation of technique.

Sugano Sensei

Completely unrelated.

BE — Sword technique and Aikido are unrelated?? I thought that you had said that Aikido comes from the sword…

Sugano Sensei.

Japanese martial tradition come from sword but Aikido is not a martial art. Aikido is Aikido, not martial art.

BE- You have told me Aikido is not a martial art. Why can it be used as a martial art then? Why are the terms we use and the very way we express the art, all in a martial way? Why for instance when you take someone down with Irimi Nage do you sometimes say “Now (you) crush head!” When you told me when I was an uchideshi I grew very depressed. After I used Aikido martially and saw how easy it was. Aikido is a martial art.

Sugano Sensei

Aikido is a circle that is large and holds many things. If you point to one place in the circle and say ‘this is the circle’ you are not correct. The moment you do this you see only one point and there is no circle. Aikido is more than martial art. More. Aikido can be used as a martial art. All this requires is the mind of violence. But that does not mean it is Aikido.

O Sensei broke from martial tradition when he made Aikido. Aikido is misunderstood to be traditional somehow. What O Sensei made was completely new. Traditional martial arts were about set practice, about set forms to be practiced. O Sensei broke the set forms and made circular movement. Made it spontaneous and not set. He made it to be done in repetition, over and over. In this it is more like sport. The practice was to be spontaneous in repetition like hitting a ball again and again. In sport they may give basics on hitting the ball but then they practice. In sports no one spends whole life learning to hit over and over. They just hit the ball. So in Aikido. Aikido should be looked at as a physical practice more like sport or yoga than a martial art.

BE- Sensei, what about the use of the sword and Aikido?

Sugano Sensei

Learning to use sword is OK. Like learning to do breathing exercise better is good. Or learn to strike with hands or meditation. All are good and can contribute to understanding of Aikido in balance.

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