Often I am asked by people to talk about aikido tournaments. They are genuinely shocked when I tell them that aikido has no competitions. I explain that our training is cooperative.
Aikido uses cooperation (not competition) in all of its training. For example, consider how we train together. Most training in aikido is done with a partner. After the instructor demonstrates a particular defensive technique from a particular attack, the students partner-up and practice the attack and defense.
The person who attacks is called “uke”. The person who performs the aikido technique is called “nage”. Uke’s responsibility is to attack in such a way that nage can perform the technique perfectly. Likewise, nage’s responsibility is to perform the technique in such a way that uke can receive it perfectly.
From this understanding of the uke-nage relationship, you quickly can figure out why aikido has no competitions. Aikidoka are not trying to beat one another in practice. We are cooperating. Aikido training builds and nurtures trust among its practitioners. We learn as nage to blend with a very vigorous attack so that uke can receive our powerful technique safely. Learning to be trustworthy in this way changes our lives in deeply profound ways.
Rather than learning to impose our competitive will on our partners, we free ourselves to learn how to blend with all sorts of challenging situations. Indeed, by training vigorously and not insisting on personal victory, aikido practitioners achieve mutual victory.
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