Let me start by saying that I am not an expert in Karate, when I was a teenager I studied it a little. Aikido and Karate are both forms of Japanese martial arts. My Aikido Master taught us,
“Do not criticize any other martial arts. Speak ill of others and it will surely come back to you. The mountain does not laugh at the river because it is lowly, nor does the river speak ill of the mountain because it cannot move about.”
I respect all martial arts and I believe that everyone is on a path that suits them. The path I choose to follow is the Aikido path.
From what I see in Karate there are four aspects of it,
Budo comes from Buddhism and is a Japanese process of endeavoring to reach perfection. It shows us how to control ourselves in a dignified way with integrity. To respect life in all forms and to never hurt others. However, if the need arises and we have to protect ourselves or others that may be in danger, we have the courage, the skills, and power to be able to do so without hesitation. This is what many martial arts teach.
Physical education this is what we study in school to stay healthy and can be taught at leisure centers, gyms etc. The focus is on making the body strong.
Sport teaches us about winning and losing. You compete to beat another person and the stronger person usually wins. It also gives a person the opportunity to show and test his skills in a safe environment, without the fear of death.
Self-defense in Karate, this is taught using punches, kicks, and chops to stop an attacker. In a real situation where a person is going to do you some serious damage, this is a very effective system. However if someone is messing around, throwing punches at you, grabbing you and restraining you, the effects of karate can be too much, resulting in either injury for the person bothering you, or if you are sensitive, you becoming a victim. This was my experience. If you teach a child to punch and kick, he will want to use this, and the first chance he gets he will punch or kick someone. The consequences are not very positive, as you will know if you have ever been punched or kicked.
Aikido is a martial art and it is not a sport. Sport encourages a win / lose way of behaving. This results in stress, anger, fear, nervousness and having to be on guard not to show one's weak points. If you win you are a champion if you lose you are a loser. How many people go through life feeling and acting like a loser and suffering because they were not good enough to be a champion or that they lost an important game, fight or match and later quit and now live an if only….blah, blah, blah life? Sports has a purpose and as long as we know what that purpose is, we are ok. However when that win / lose starts coming into other aspects of our lives then we suffer. Aikido teaches a win / win alternative. instead of beating an opponent we work together to help each other learn the techniques. We have Nage (the person receiving the attack) and Uke (the person initiating the attack) we work together to learn the techniques. the Nage takes the attack on his left side then his right and then the position changes. The person who was Uke becomes the Nage. We use wooden swords, knives and staffs not to kill or maim another person but to teach proper conduct. The Aikido techniques blend with the opponents energy and leads him / her to a place where he / she cannot hurt himself or herself or others. We use joint locks and throws and practice principles of non-resistance. A competitive spirit in you arouses a similar spirit in your opponent. it is always accompanied by an uneasy state of mind. If a competitor of equal strength as you approaches and simply stands near you, your mind quakes with apprehension. No matter how strong he may be, you do not oppose his strength with yours but you lead him in the direction of his own strength. When you practice Aikido with your mind governed by the spirit of non-resistance and also try to practice with your mind ungoverned you will discover a vast difference.
In Aikido we emphasize the importance of mind and body coordination. We have exercises to show how we use our mind and teach techniques to help us expand our energy. We practice meditation in class and also study massage. Aikido teaches us to have a Universal Mind that loves and protects all creation and helps all things to grow and develop. To coordinate the mind and body and become one with the Universe is the ultimate purpose of our study.
Aikido is an excellent art for the whole family to practice together, grandparents, parents, and children. It fosters cooperation, understanding, and love. Until next time I wish you peace, love and success. Martin Acton sensei