Our own Dwight Sora is part of a series of interviews with martial artists on the Luc Reid’s website. Luc is a writer and speaker, his web site investigates how to increase focus and drive, write more and better, and live a happier life, all grounded in current psychological and neurological research.
Below is an excerpt from the first installment of the series Aikido Interviews, #1: Trying to Discover Truths. To read the article in full please go to LucReid.com.
Luc: My impression of aikido is that it’s a little different from most martial arts both in techniques and in general philosophy. What’s aikido about, on the most basic level?
Dwight: Ah, the classic $65 million dollar question. It’s one I don’t have a fully satisfactory answer for myself. When I consider what I myself think aikido is, I realize that my perspective has changed radically from when I first started as an exchange student to Japan in 1993. Naturally, I have my “sales pitch” answer to prospective students at the dojo to which I belong: It’s a Japanese martial art, it incorporates empty hand practice and armed techniques involving traditional weapons (wooden sword, staff, dagger), it’s based on a non-aggressive philosophy, you use the enemies energy/movements against them, etc. etc.
Lately, the idea I have been pondering the most is that although I can definitely say that aikido is a martial art, I would not call it a fighting art. Certainly, the techniques practiced and the objectives informing all the movements are drawn from traditional Japanese fighting forms, primarily swordwork and old-style grappling (the same roots of jujitsu and judo). However, I’d be the first to admit that a great deal of our regular practice lacks modern-day utility as a fighting art: We train barefoot, we wear training gear completely unsuited to modern warfare or street fighting, many of our exercises involve a level of stylization irrelevant to strict combat.