© 2012 niall. All rights reserved.

does your aikido reflect your heart?

A famous aikido teacher whose technique was impressive and graceful was in fact a petty, arrogant and unpleasant man. It was very difficult for me to reconcile that with his beautiful aikido.

At a spiritual level he didn’t understand ai or aiki – harmony or blending of energy – at all. And at a simpler level he didn’t understand reigi – courtesy and respect. Come to think of it that reminds me of some of the posts in the forums.

I don’t want to get into a personal discussion about him so I’ll just say one of his initials was Y and anyone who wants to know his name can ask me. I want to talk about the interesting concept of a person’s art reflecting the person’s heart.

In the final analysis a work of art must stand on its own. We can appreciate the stark truth of a painting by Picasso or the textured brilliance of an opera by Mozart without having to know if they were good humans.

But I can’t accept that for aikido. Especially from a teacher. Aikido should reflect the openness, the sincerity and the goodness of the person doing it.

So my conclusion? Years later I realized that my eyes just hadn’t been ready to see past that teacher’s technical brilliance to the truth behind it. That his aikido was sterile and dead.

At an aikido seminar once a young guy with a white belt asked me to show him something – anything – he could teach his students. He was a teacher – not because he wanted to be but because he was the highest rank in his town. But he was honest and open and his aikido shone.

So if we try to live our lives the best we can and become the best humans we can our aikido will naturally be living and wonderful.


cool photo: Two Hearts Beat As One by Luc De Leeuw

Aqui la traducción en español.

Hier die Deutsche Übersetzung.

This post appeared originally on the aikido site aikiweb


© niall matthews 2010


  1. niall

    Thank you Carina.

  2. When I read that the first time in Aikiweb I had more difficulties to understand the language and I think I was naive too related aikidokas. Due to the translation of yours and other articles I improved my understanding of the language, Thank you Niall! and unfortunately I also understand what you are talking about Y, I know somebody like him pretty good, his aikido his beautiful, but he is losing all his seniors because of his behaviour, he is behaving like a fool because he is living from the aikido. How can he work against his own business, because he is doing it without his heart, just from his stubborness.
    Thanks again for this great post!

Leave a Reply