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Aikido : Ueshiba's famous quotes

Morihei Ueshiba

These quotations are compiled from O-Sensei's collected talks, poems, and calligraphy, and from oral tradition. Most of them were excerpted from the Introduction written by John Stevens for Aikido.  
 
  1. To practice properly Aikido, you must:
    Calm the spirit and return to the source.
    Cleanse the body and spirit by removing all malice, selfishness, and desire.
  2. Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love.
  3. Budo is not a means of felling the opponent by force or by lethal weapons. Neither is it intended to lead the world to destruction by arms and other illegitimate means. True Budo calls for bringing the inner energy of the universe in order, protecting the peace of the world , as well as preserving, everything in nature in its right form. 
    If your opponent tries to pull you, let him pull. Don't pull against him; pull in unison with him.
    Aikido does not rely on weapons or brute force to succeed; instead we put ourselves in tune with the universe, maintain peace in our own realms, nurture life, and prevent death and destruction. The true meaning of the term "samurai"  is one who serves and adheres to the power of love.
  4. Foster and polish the warrior spirit while serving in the world; illuminate the path according to your inner light.
  5. Even though our path is completely different from the warrior arts of the past, it is not necessary to abandon totally the old ways. Absorb venerable traditions into this Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and building on the classic styles to create better forms.
  6. Day after day train your heart out, refining your technique: Use the One to strike the Many! That is the discipline of the Warrior.
  7. The Way of a Warrior cannot be encompassed by words or in letters: grasp the essence and move on toward realization!
  8. The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body, and polish the spirit.
  9. Iron is full of impurities that weaken it; through the forging fire, it becomes steel and is transformed into a razor-sharp sword. Human beings develop in the same fashion.
  10. Instructors can impart only a fraction of the teaching. It is through your own devoted practice that the mysteries of Aikido are brought to life.
  11. The Way of a Warrior is based on humanity, love, and sincerity; the heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship. Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.
  12. A true warrior is always armed with three things: the radiant sword of pacification; the mirror of bravery, wisdom, and friendship; and the precious jewel of enlightenment.
    Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. Aikido is invincible because it contends with nothing.
  13. There are no contests in Aikido. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.
  14. To injure an opponent is to injure yourself. To control aggression without inflicting injury is Aikido.
  15. The totally awakened warrior can freely utilize all elements contained in heaven and earth. The true warrior learns how to correctly perceive the activity of the universe and how to transform martial techniques into vehicles of purity, goodness, and beauty. A warrior's mind and body must be permeated with enlightened wisdom and deep calm.
  16. It is necessary to develop a strategy that utilizes all the physical conditions and elements that are directly at hand. The best strategy relies upon an unlimited set of responses.
  17. A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.
  18. The key to good technique is to keep your hands, feet, and hips straight and centered. If you are centered, you can move freely. The physical center is your belly; if your mind is set there as well, you are assured of victory in any endeavor.
  19. Move like a beam of light: fly like lightning, strike like thunder, whirl in circles around a stable center.
  20. Techniques employ four qualities that reflect the nature of our world. Depending on the circumstance, you should be: hard as a diamond, flexible as a willow, smooth-flowing like water, or as empty as space.
  21. If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly.
  22. The techniques of Aikido are neither fast nor slow, nor are they inside or outside. They transcend time and space.
  23. When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way.
  24. The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.
  25. Always try to be in communion with heaven and earth; then the world will appear in its true light. Self-conceit will vanish, and you can blend with any attack.
  26. If your heart is large enough to envelop your adversaries, you can see right through them and avoid their attacks. And once you envelop them, you will be able to guide them along the path indicated to you by heaven and earth.
  27. Free of weakness ignore the sharp attacks of your enemies: Step in and act!
  28. Do not look upon this world with fear and loathing. Bravely face whatever the gods offer.
  29. Life itself is always a trial. In training, you must test and polish yourself in order to face the great challenges of life. Transcend the realm of life and death, and then you will be able to make your way calmly and safely through any crisis that confronts you.
  30. Be grateful even for hardship, setbacks, and bad people. Dealing with such obstacles is an essential part of training in Aikido.
  31. Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.
  32. In extreme situations, the entire universe becomes our foe; at such critical times, unity of mind and technique is essential - do not let your heart waver!
  33. At the instant a warrior confronts a foe, all things come into focus.
  34. Even when called out by a single foe, remain on guard, for you are always surrounded by a host of enemies.
  35. In our techniques we enter completely into, blend totally with, and control firmly an attack. Strength resides where one's ki is concentrated and stable; confusion and maliciousness arise when ki stagnates.
  36. There are two type of ki: ordinary ki and true ki. Ordinary ki is coarse and heavy; true ki is light and versatile. In order to perform well, you have to liberate yourself from ordinary ki and permeate your organs with true ki. That is the basis of powerful technique.
  37. In Aikido we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control. Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control an opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it.
  38. Seeing me before him, the enemy attacks, but by that time I am already standing safely behind him.
  39. When attacked, unify the upper, middle, and lower parts of your body. Enter, turn, and blend with your opponent, front and back, right and left.
  40. Your spirit is the true shield.
  41. Opponents confront us continually, but actually there is no opponent there. Enter deeply into an attack and neutralize it as you draw that misdirected force into your own sphere.
  42. Do not stare into the eyes of your opponent: he may mesmerize you. Do not fix your gaze on his sword: he may intimidate you. Do not focus on your opponent at all: he may absorb your energy. The essence of training is to bring your opponent completely into your sphere. Then you can stand where you like.
  43. Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own, and his strength will dissipate.
  44. Left and right, avoid all cuts and parries. Seize your opponents' minds and scatter them all!
  45. The real Art of Peace is not to sacrifice a single one of your warriors to defeat an enemy. Vanquish your foes by always keeping yourself in a safe and unassailable position; then no one will suffer any losses. The Way of a Warrior, the Art of Politics, is to stop trouble before it starts. It consists in defeating your adversaries spiritually by making them realize the folly of their actions. The Way of a Warrior is to establish harmony.
  46. In your training do not be in a hurry, for it takes a minimum of ten years to master the basics and advance to the first rung. Never think of yourself as an all-knowing, perfected master; you must continue to train daily with your friends and students and progress together in Aikido.
  47. Progress comes to those who train and train. Reliance on secret techniques will get you nowhere.
  48. Fiddling with this and that technique is of no avail. Simply act decisively without reserve!
  49. If you perceive the true form of heaven and earth, you will be enlightened to your own true form. If you are enlightened about a certain principle, you can put it into practice. After each practical application, reflect on your efforts. Progress continually like this.
  50. Aikido can be summed up like this: True victory is self-victory; let that day arrive quickly! "True victory" means unflinching courage; "self-victory" symbolizes unflagging effort; and "let that day arrive quickly" represents the glorious moment of triumph in the here and now.
  51. Cast off limiting thoughts and return to true emptiness. Stand in the midst of the Great Void. This is the secret of the Way of a Warrior.
  52. The techniques of Aikido change constantly; every encounter is unique, and the appropriate response should emerge naturally. Today's techniques will be different tomorrow. Do not get caught up with the form and appearance of a challenge. Aikido has no form - it is the study of the spirit.
  53. Ultimately, you must forget about technique. The further you progress, the fewer teachings there are. The Great Path is really No Path.