Breaking news – Aikido is not a martial art!

Of course, without thinking, most people will tell you that Aikido is a martial art, and it really is quite understandable that it got put into this category. If you’ve any interest in Roman mythology you’ll probably already know that a ‘martial’ art is de facto an art of war (from ‘Mars’ the god of war), and sure, both Aikido and Verbal Aikido help us deal with the ‘wars’ that people manifest both internally and externally. But I ask you: can this art, whose proclaimed intention is “to unify the world in love and harmony”, really be considered as ‘martial’?

Indeed, anyone who has gone just a little further than the mat, knows how much Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, insisted that “budo is love” and that Aikido was a means for people to live in harmony. Hmmm, there’s definitely something amiss here, because no matter how I look at it, I can’t seem to make the founder’s philosophy stick with any idea of war.

“So if it’s not a martial art, what is it then?”  I hear you, I hear you. Well, let me see now, what if, instead of categorising this art based on a god of war, we could find some sort of ‘god of love and harmony’, to be more in line with O-Sensei’s vision for Aikido…

Venus & MarsYou have undoubtedly heard of Venus, well just like Mars, before they became planets, they both started out their lives as gods. On the one side of Earth was war, and on the other side… yep, love.

So Venus was known as the goddess of love, and anything pertaining to Venus was ‘venusian’, hmm, I guess you see where this article is going now…

So will you? Will you help us promote Aikido, and Verbal Aikido as venusian arts instead of martial arts? It may take some time to catch on, but it’s hard to disagree that it makes more sense!

Peace out Venusian-style 😉


8 thoughts on “Breaking news – Aikido is not a martial art!

  1. As an aikidoka I believe I understand your intention to shift the perception of Aikido from a way of war to a way of love. As a suggestion, it might be more “all encompassing” to say an “agape art”. As you have stated in your book, it really is a “way”. So even “agape way” is a shift away from martial.This would include a higher form of love that includes all people as well as the spiritual aspect of an eternal, always present, one life, that is our source. That would take it out of the mythological “gods” of philosophy into a more relatable form, in my opinion. Just my thoughts…..

  2. I would venture to suggest that the current *practice* of Aikido is not martial.

    From my understanding of the origins of the art, I would not agree that is not “martial” in and of itself. I believe that on the mat we practice an approximation of Aikido because if we were to actually did “True Aikido” then we would quickly run out of training partners…

    Just my few yen…


  3. Hi Luke. Interesting article. I take your point, and I think the issue is how we used the word “martial” in our culture. “Warlike” does not have to mean “unnecessarily aggressive.” However I would be rather worried if I thought I was teaching people Aikido techniques that didn’t work appropriately in a real-life situation against aggressive people.

    Some people respond well to peaceful thinking and others have a bit further to go before they get the point – sometimes they need to hit the planet a few times before they learn their lesson. And some wars do have to be fought. Personally, I’d prefer not to have to, which is why I work equally at the peaceful side of the art…

    Similarly, I’d want Verbal Aikido to work in real situations, which must also include with those who have seriously aggressive intentions towards me. Surely there’s a reason that both words are in the name – leave out either the art or the martial and there’s something missing. No?

  4. An attack constitutes aggression – which is the context of a “martial” environment. Attacks can happen, paradoxically and usually most often when we are not in our best connected, unified, balanced, and loving posture. Most martial arts, as taught, teach the defender to cleverly respond to attack without taking any responsibility for the “source” of the attack (one’s own imbalance) – and to defend from the place or “feeling” of duality that caused the attack in the first place. The “trick” of Aikido is not to redefine the art by re-contextualizing it, but rather to effectively identify and teach the most effective spirit that takes place within the execution of the art. I’m not sure where exactly the “proclaimed intention” of the art is documented (to unify the world in love & harmony). What I can be sure of from my own experience, is that Aikido as a martial art is at its best when the practitioner has achieved a harmonious, loving unified spirit within himself, no matter what the nature of the words, attacker or world that surround around him. Then the world transforms – one experience at a time.

  5. Why does the focus have to be on “Martial”, Aikido is also an “Art” . Contemplate the two together and the label is absolutely fine.

    1. Indeed, the two together literally signify ‘art of war’… ‘Art’ for sure, ‘of war’… not so sure. Seriously, check out any of the writings by the founder and you’ll start to notice the contradiction. There was a certain provocation in the article Andy, the objective being to shake up our understanding of what we say, and to remind us that Aikido is indeed, an Art of Peace… Of course I do understand that we get attached to calling things a certain way… I mean we still call that device you use to take photos, go on internet, play games, write mails etc. ‘your phone’… and we probably will continue to do so, check out our article on our evolving language…

  6. Why do you assume that I have not “Checked out any of the founders writings”. It is a lazy and rude argument. If this is an example of Verbal Aikido

    1. Hi Andy, What makes you think anyone assumed that? I imagine that whether you have studied Ueshiba’s life works deeply or not, checking them out with this particular perspective will underline a certain contradiction in a term that we have come to accept without further reflection (myself included!). Indeed, we can only continue to read, reread, and recommend others to do so as there is much wisdom in his teachings that we do not always perceive at first!

      If you’d like a more isolated demonstration of Verbal Aikido, please bring your accusations, criticisms, guilt trips, insults, etc. to the Virtual Tatami:
      In peace

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