A few moons ago, Aikikai Malaysia conducted an upgrading exercise for 3rd Dans. Both Suzalie Sensei and Zainuddin Sensei were there strutting their stuff (They were taking their 4th dan). One of the questions asked by during the exam was this: What is the meaning of harmony? Both Zainuddin Sensei and Suzalie Sensei has their own intrepetation. This article is to convey mine (just in case I'm getting
the same question in my 3rd Dan exam :) )
Ironically, this is not the first time I heard this question. 1992, Sekolah Izzuddin Shah (my high school), Science Class. It was the first science class of the year and I was tasked to explain to the class how the body neural function works.
Being a smart alec that I am, I regurtitate what I read from the text book and said " The body's neural system works in harmony". The teacher then ask, "What do you mean by harmony?"
The teacher smiled back and explain how the neural system work as different sub-components. Each sub-components has its own role to play, and yet together, they form a system that work as one.
It was hard for me to grasp that until a few moons ago when I was tasked to teach weapon in our local dojo (MyAikido). Now, I just love doing jo. In my class, we use a lot of jo and from time to time, we learn 'kumijo' , first introduced to us by Dr. Goldsbury Sensei when he visited us last year.
When people say that weapon intensifies your 'ki' or energy, they are not kidding. Practicing kumijo again and again and and you will find that the uke and nage , their mind and movement, their jos and bokkens even the tatamis and the dojo itself creates a synchronized orchestrated system that is both beautiful and lethal. And that, my friend, to me, is the very definition of harmony. When everything plays its part to create a choreograph of clockwork precision system.
The question is, what is fueling this 'harmony'? What keeps things in harmony? With the body neural system, the fuel is pulses of electricity within the neurons. With clockwork, it's the winded spring (or electrically charged quartz in modern clocks and watches), in a music orchestra, it's the conductor and musical notes. In aikido, I believe what is fueling the this harmony is the 'ki'. When two aikidokas are at play, especially when weapons are involved, they exchange ki with each other. An attack is a projection of ki and a counter attack is an absorbtion of ki. The projection of ki and the absorbtion ensure the smoothness of connection (zahnshin) between the uke and nage.
And thus, to me at least, this defines aikido itself. In my book, aikido is define as such: aikido is a system, a way, in which, through the exchange of ki energy, the aikidoka, his opponent, his surrounding become one (blended , i.e. the state of musubi) just like an orchestra of different musicians become a single sweet symphony under a single conductor.