Aikido is not a sport. Aikido is true budo. Budo is defined as the “martial way”.
To properly practice Aikido, you must harmonize with the movement of the universe, and reach a state of spiritual oneness in which you have no opponents.
Traditional martial arts teachings are typically not presented in a rational, logical way. This is different than the teaching methods in modern society. At a university, for example, you are taught knowledge in a clear, explicit way, in order to avoid misunderstandings. If there are several interpretations, they will still be laid out clearly.
3 Layers of the Self:
Intellectual knowledge, heart, and spirit
Intellectual knowledge resides on the surface. Heart adds a sense of what’s good and bad, of values, to intellectual knowledge. But hearts and minds are changeable. It can be influenced in one direction or another. But when you enter the realm of the spirit, you stay true to yourself, consistently.
When you first learn an Aikido technique, you acquire knowledge about it. After more training, you are able to perform the technique somewhat freely. At that point, you are able to put your heart into it. After even more training, you may be able to do that technique without thinking at all. That’s when the technique emerges from your spirit.
When you try to learn with your intellect, it is more difficult to absorb the teachings on a deeper level. But as you continue to train, something changes. What changes is a deeper than your intellectual knowledge, deeper than your mind or heart.
Aikido technique is the expression of spirit in form. Study the spirit, and manifest it in technique. If you don’t actually train, if all you think about is spiritual matters, you need technique. If all you do is technique, you need spirit.
Spirit comes first. I believe that if you make the spirit primary, if you give it the central place in your mind as you practice technique, then what you are doing will become Aikido.
SPIRIT IN FORM
Training slowly is actually more difficult than training quickly. Anyone can go fast, but it takes skill to be able to go slowly. When you practice the basic techniques slowly, you get rid of errors and let go of things that are nonessential. You start to develop a more ideal, perfect form. That’s the principle of becoming one with nature.
Focus on eliminating three things as you train: muri, muda, mura–strain, waste, and inconsistency. To eliminate muri, is to let go of any strain or force. To eliminate muda is to get rid of extraneous things or useless movement. To eliminate mura is to develop a steady rhythm and to get rid of inconsistencies–for instance, the inconsistency of doing really well one instant and really poorly the next.