Through Budo I trained my body thoroughly and mastered its ultimate secrets, but I also realized an even greater truth. That is, when I grasped the real nature of the universe through Budo, I saw clearly that human beings must unite mind and body and the Ki that connects the two and then achieve harmony with the activity of all things in the universe.
By virtue of the subtle working of Ki we harmonize mind and body and the relationship between the individual and the universe. When the subtle working of Ki is unhealthy, the world falls into confusion and the universe into chaos. The harmonizing of a united Ki-mind-body with the activity of the universe is critical for order and peace in the world.
Master Morihei Uyeshiba 
SECTION I TOC
This commentary is as much for senior students and teachers as it is for prospective students and practitioners first wending their way on the path. It is intended as an outline for the novice to accumulate tools for further progress and it is a guide for teachers and seniors to broaden their insight and sensitivity to the subtle issues of training. Also contained is a partial explanation of the vision and mission of Aikido Affiliates International.
This is a standalone document, but it is best viewed in context with other materials of the AAI. To appreciate this orientation, one should first recognize the delicacy and far reaching implications of Morihei Uyeshiba's work.
Those who practice are aware that Aikido has a purpose, foundation, and method originally codified by Morihei Uyeshiba. Modern Aikido is his creation, a legacy to the world. It might seem to be a paradox but Aikido is art and his art is Aikido, those who train will come to understand the distinction. Further, the master's concept of Aikido was bigger than ours as practitioners and even those of us who are teachers. Any other admission or claim from a practitioner, teacher or organization would be presumptuous.
Truly, he was a way shower with exceptional ability and circumstances. He was a man who experienced many hardships and overcame many obstacles to arrive at not a resting place in his development but a mechanism and a very profound destiny with respect to his work. Some individuals create material art, build beautiful architectural structures, write profound literary works, compose music, heal, foster religious and philosophical beliefs, pursue science and mathematics and engage in many life-affirming activities to fill their lives with joy, manifestations of their truth and enrich the lives of others. Uyeshiba's process was different but it was nevertheless a brilliant and unique labor of love and tireless dedicated labor designated and designed for the elucidation and evolution of humankind, both individually and collectively. It, the process, elicits change in individuals and has many profound implications. We who have inherited O Sensei's legacy appreciate his work and share this vision.
Aikido is very distinct and distinctive from other martial forums. Outside the practice people have a recognition that it exists, but there is not a tangible feel for the nature of the set of experiences and benefits unless it is done on the mat, with others, orchestrated by a teacher that has not just dedicated time, energy and expense, but also made a significant transitions in terms of technical proficiency, craft, but they have decided that part of their role and process is to transmit the teaching to other to the best of their ability. So this page is, has, orientation to a superstructure for teachers, but students, even beginners might also gain from reading. The goal is an academic foundation for the transmission of the art form. It is a formulation of a model to bring this teaching and various cultures closer and promote the central tenants of the art. This also implies that there is emphasis on not diluting these central ideas and as consistently as possible continuing the form as an almost living embodiment of these foundational elements that was designed to virtually live forever. Those that have inherited this legacy did it simply, they trained and exposed themselves to challenge, discipline and a wealth that is not in books. It is a remarkable set of conditionals that become relevant to virtually every aspect of life and living. Again, this inheritance is there simply for the asking. This does not mean there is not a price, but the price is quite remarkable in itself, because it is always way undervalued. It is a gift that due to its immensity cannot be repaid. Even the founder would relate that Aikido was there before him, he only became a shunt for it. He became a codifier of this truth that is merely represented by the kanji and manifested through the form. Appreciation is due, and as people by numbers and by depth appreciate more, the world will be better.
II. Aikido as Art:
Art is differentiated from science in that there is a creative factor that launches unique expression through excited state of mind, enhanced perception and specialized differentiation within the process of mentation. Art, is craft plus unique creative expression. Science, mathematics and other intellectual activities can be creative, "artistic". Every aspect of life can be creative. There is a synergy of balance, form and rhythmic displacement in all sciences, technologies and craft that manifests creation, and in this there is joy. While there is product in this, it is the immersion and joy of the process that makes even the most precious of tangible art nothing compared to the experience of producing it. In order to create, one must master craft. This is a compact, but complex statement, because there are many forms of craft, this just means skill sets and intimate understanding and feel for the elemental substances and tools that are brought together to bring something into manifestation.
Process is not just about efficiency. Much creativity appears very non efficient because it can often be tedious, demanding, and even agonizing to achieve art. It is like climbing a steep incline with many obstacles, but it is exhilarating and satisfying when the summit is reached. While much art does not appear efficient, it is often characterized by being very succinct despite the adaptations that must be made to overcome obstacles. Often it is absolutely essential to remain steadfast, focused and sincere to achieve art and to integrate the lessons the process of creation has to teach. Much of the differentiation between expressing the two concerns, process and product, lies in examining mental states pertaining to the process. Usually, the higher or more evolved the mental state, the more creative the act. This is reasonably true regardless of how mundane that task at hand. Knowledge is like craft, it is accumulated skill and insight, however, art is manifestation that transcends repetition in terms of extraction of cognitive awareness. There are many art forms that take the materials of the earth and recombine, reshape and express in creative ways.  Aiki is all of this and do is the method to acquire in the broadest sense of the process. However, don't misunderstand it has also been called, named or represented differently and appears in as many forms as there are modes to express consciousness.
In fact there is no process or cause and effect sequence in reality that is not novel, we exist in a constantly changing, evolving, spiraling context. There is ultimately, infinite modes of expression or unfolding. The attribute of individual choice, evolution of intent, and the subsequent building of a psyche that unburdens itself of fear and limitation has many expressions in the so called real world. Some of these expressions are stellar, some are depraved. Often the depraved has very creative, clever attributes, but this also is not the direction or goal of Aiki/do. The mere recognition that intention can be willfully extended into the world implies agenda. Not all agenda is good, nor all evil, but the cumulative impact of self-serving and fearful psyches tends to soil action and be internally supportive of a degrading spiritual spiral. This also has to do with value and values, this is part of the discussion, what is the wealth that is real, and how does one accumulate spiritual currency?
The dance of every individual in existence expresses some form of divine inspiration, the issue is always a matter of degree. Some expressions are simple and pristine, some are complex and based on many contributions including technology. Creation can derive from and delve into virtually any niche subject to exploration, this includes the perverse. These diversions become eventually recognized as dead ends in the evolutionary spiral. Creation requires processes as well as materials. Processes are as much forms of creation as other works of art. Dance is expression. The forms of dance vary, but for each individual that dances there is a unique, and ephemeral expression to the moment. The goal is NOT machinelike repetition because one can be a very adroit technical player of the instrument, but have little feel or inclination to achieve the mental states that approach the sound of art.
So in this set of pages, and this one in particular, there is much discussion of process and product, craft and art, truth and that which is not quite. The model is a discursive one, questions and sometimes answers, this is called Heuristic, and it means transmission by experience. We live on a planet, that for whatever reasons makes this possible, this is also discussed. Nature is important, but it represents very poorly that idea that might be the most exalted of all, divine creation. Everything is linked, and connects person to person, person to nature, nature to the divine. It can be no other way.
Aikido Affiliates International has a precept, derived from the concept of Aikido as an art form. This precept concerns universal applicability. Uyeshiba blended technology and art on many levels, as do we all, if we allow ourselves a moment to reflect. Aikido is the product of a lifetime of accumulated skill and insight. Uyeshiba formed Aikido from the mud of war and strife. The niche of protection is what he chose to explore. And this was a rich environment because humankind is conflicted and in conflict, this is the dipole in terms of living harmoniously with that which is without and interfacing on competitive models where there are winners and losers, those that survive and those that do not, and finally the construction of hubris that might makes right.
While many factors contributed to the work, he, both from a historical and creative standpoint, birthed and nurtured the system. He through personal manifestation changed the consciousness of the martial tradition, and set it free to live a life of its own. It became a protean entity concerned with process not product. One could say this in many ways, another way is the process and the product are similar, if not the same; the honing of Humankind to be in concordance with, be inside God, universal law, etc. His goal was, in terms of role, to nurture and protect all life. Ai-Ki applies as succinctly to this niche as are the demands of the niche. Quite creative and poignant, wouldn't you agree. While this might contribute to the appreciation of the genius of Uyeshiba, it is also a model by which other historical and present individuals can be examined to determine with considerable accuracy the level of their evolution. [See Yoga and Psychotherapy, by Rama, Adjia, and Ballantine.] This model is, in one sense a symptomatic picture of evolution along a spectrum where normalcy is merely at a center, and pathology must be interpreted very carefully because symptoms might be mimicked on a increasing evolutionary spiral.
There are spiritual and material implications with respect to this. The entity/process that comprises Aikido in the holistic sense grows and adapts eliciting beneficial change and modifying conduct consistent with this change. It is holistic healing. This has implications directed to the individual, to Aikido as a collective, and the behavior of humankind as a whole. It is spiritual art with a life of its own, evolving as the individuals that it touches evolve. It has a tricky side, because it speaks to warriors, pragmatists, that are also in need of salvage, salvation, but possess a confidence that believes it is right, and in this there is a great barrier to transition. These are rather unique assertions even rendered within the Aikido community, so it is understandable that the reader could find them novel or even odd. The implications of such ruminations apply to virtually every human enterprise. However, it is hoped that the essence of this notion will float in the reader's consciousness as other, more mundane, matters are discussed. It is a fundamental goal of the organization to keep the organism / entity / process that Uyeshiba coalesced alive and expanding so that it can achieve its potential within the world.
There is a pretension within this organizational vision. That is, "how can AAI presume to know the nature of the process and provide the expertise to extend the influence of Aikido as presented for our dining pleasure by Uyeshiba"? Of course, this is the presumption of every teacher and organization that seeks to formalize the process, or pursue a methodology of teaching. The aspiration of the organization is to further fertilize the field to enable more individuals to experience Aikido in a continuously evolving heuristic method and to provide a forum to teach the principles of Aikido with some attention to formal structure while maintaining the diversity of the individuals who in actuality do the teaching. This organization is oriented to the formation of curricula and for credit programs so future teachers can access the maturity of the academic community to enhance its credibility as a growth media. Strength, intellect and compassion should be further combined in this environment to enhance understanding of creative action, magnanimity, and pious acts and work.
Arrogance is believing that one knows when one does not. It is asserting one's will over another subject with invasive intent. Virtually every person that charges another with being arrogant is conflicted and arrogant themselves. One must differentiate between confidence and composure, sureness, precision and correct action and not mistake these as arrogance. Speaking the truth is not arrogance it is sincerity, those that recoil are protecting their arrogance. It is a distorted mirror that reveals inner turmoil and insecurity. If there is integration there is invariably dissonance in an environment that is struggling with integration and harmony. If a person reviews this examination of vituperative or ad hominem attack projected on another the fault usually lies inside the accuser and they are merely avoiding addressing substantive issues and dancing around the truth. It is represented in the Biblical platitude, "let he who has no fault cast the first stone."
Do not be overly concerned or insecure if those about you claim you are arrogant, this is a complement because you radiate confidence. They project this attack because they want you to recoil and feel as insecure as they do. However, confidence itself can be overbearing and self possessed, this requires examination in terms of control, measuring action and compassion. Biblical platitudes apply, do not throw pearly before swine, lest they turn and rend you, but also do not resist extending a helping hand to drowning victims of the events that are paralleled in your life. For to save the life of one is as though you have saved all of humankind. one of the exalted goals of Aikido is to nurture and protect all of life so it can manifest in its particular form. This also relates to Taki Musu Aiki.
F. One truth, many ways: [Pedagogical Method]
The noble qualities mentioned are not singular to Aikido, there are many belief structures that speak a similar language. Yoga has their physical practices, asana, meditation and a rich set of preceptor, student/teacher, esoteric and written codified work as well as a profound verbal tradition. Aikido is similarly constructed, with Keiko, Shugyo, Kokoro and Kokyu at center and many other teachings ancillary. The preceptor is the teacher, sensei, the one who has gone before. There are similarities in all spiritual enclaves, and movements outward to promote spiritual evolution for those that might not be so privileged as to be at a point where there is touching of the greatest of truths. This is an occasion to extend great respect and appreciation to all those spiritual arts that contribute to the evolution of human consciousness. Aikido has many unique qualities but one of the most important is spiral movement. Therefore, to speak of it is to move with it. It represents ceaseless variation on the themes of conflict, reappraisal and renewal, life and death, within an arena that does not diminish but enhances all that engage. This same notion could be said a thousand different ways, but it would lack veracity if one does not step onto the mat. The presumption, also, is that one can make a pedagogical system somewhat outside the Japanese or oriental model that might be suitable to satisfy western academia, provide for the professionalization of the teaching, give recognition and respect to the art and proliferate Aiki without taint or misgiving. However, this is to a great extent the intent of the AAI. May history be kind.
III. Matters of Power/Leverage:
A. Issues and Questions:
Within the process of Aikido, arise questions relating to value, morality, truth, service and many other fundamental human quandaries. Certain issues are particularly relevant because the form of Aikido is a martial setting. This elevates Aikido above mere self-defense or skills that kill. Many issues evolve about the use and abuse of power. Clearly, there are enough hardhearted machines of destruction already on this planet and many historical examples of men and armies gone awry. Ordinary, ostensibly good people are often eager to fight, willing to die, and capable of killing, enslaving and despoiling for ideals and ways of life. Unfortunately, that which appears to be worth fighting for from a historical perspective or even a close in postmortem often boil down to many petty issues that could be resolved peacefully.
The knowledge and judgment to discern which side lies within the greatest pale of truth is often difficult. When asked, "why do countries go to war"? Because both sides think their right, if both sides knew they were wrong, or acknowledge their complicity in the escalation of crisis, they would negotiate with sincerity. Or even more significantly, take measures to ameliorate the conditions that gradually precipitate conflict on the scale of war. History has many examples of conflicts initiated by very willful governments and special interests that blatantly and clandestinely irritate, manipulate and use others for their personal aggrandizement, propagandize their people, distort their positions, attempt land grabs, and contribute to arms sales and technologies to create a garden of poisonous plants opportunistically encroaching on fertile land around them.
Aikido by design has appropriateness relative to progress on the path. It does not create mercenaries, but is inclined to creating stalwart and dedicated servants and stewards to humankind, nature, and God as each individual defines the matter to their own satisfaction and need. Aikido respects the sovereignty of the individual, and acknowledges that the universe has an investment in each single person, and in all expressions of life. There are no high priests or priestesses of Aikido. Aikido is simply a process that lays above all such mundane artifice of human beings and stokes the process of change to refine the nature of those who practice within its confines.
B. Power is not wisdom:
Power is not wisdom, and although these can be seen together the need for and expression of power often contradicts wisdom. Further, wisdom usually avoids the display of power, which is essentially conceded crass and immature. Generally any need for power or display power is as much a character flaw as is the abuse of power, and the one often leads to the other. The magnitude of adverse consequences lies along a spectrum associated with the egregious and frequency of negative acts from small to large as the ego becomes accustomed to using power. As this turns to habit, reason and caution dissolves, power begins to justify itself, and misery begins.
Those that seek power in the martial arts, as in any niche, do so for many reasons. Here some individuals may have assets or proclivities such as physical ability, some are driven by psychological factors, such as self doubt, fear, anger or hate, some are by chance or fortune born to position that portends power as an extension of the will, clearly there can be a long and complicated list. To conjoin power with a distorted psyche can create more problems than solutions. All roads to truth, and likely all lives, have power issues, as do they ego. The need for mastery over self and revelation can be more safely found where personal leverage and power are not in easy reach. In the final analysis almost all that train have a motivation that is at least partly associated with power, whether these be self esteem, fear, or even hate or anger. All paths and people own power related issues. Part of the question here is as power grows, does the individual possess and control the power or does the intoxication of power control them.
While Uyeshiba was renowned for his martial ability, he was also a man who essentially lived abstemiously, working, living, and eating almost like a peasant. A plain man consumed with great aspiration and spiritual fire. Within this image of humility, abstemiousness, constant work and dedication he shares an identity with many historical figures that sought truth regardless of the material hardships encountered. His life was one of apparent contradictions and open questions indicative of all those who travel such a precarious path. The simplicity and daily hard work characteristic of his life is as much an example of the goal as martial prowess. Such simplicity is often characteristic of those on the path, the accumulation of worldly objects is burdening, the maintenance of worldly structures wastes precious time, and tends to becomes a self-willed distraction. If nothing else everyone could gain much from this example and consider it a part of the performance of the art, and artistic performance.
The ascension to worldly position is often fraught with compromise and often initial idealism degrades as the everyday world impinges on the spiritual quest and distorts modest good intentions into depraved acts. All such edifices and artifacts of mundane existence reflect the relationship with the material world. This paradigm extends to all relationships extending from the family or clan to encompass temporal authority and national interest. This does not imply in any way that everyday life and the process of evolution is not engaged, it simply is kept in perspective. Position in human society is often a barrier to certain aspects of growth, within every gift reside issues that must be ferreted out for completion. In fact for every investment in time, resources, wealth and emotion there exists a counterpart that complicates, bars, obstructs, inhibits, or in some other way impacts growth. It is truly the sage that understands the subtleties of such relationships and has the ability to ease individuals from their indolence to truth.
Aikido Affiliates International is multinational in scope and educational in purpose. The AAI is a community of sincere practitioners and an educational organization directed to the dissemination of Aikido as a technical, philosophical, and creative growth media. It promotes a merging of fundamental Aikido precepts in the greater world, particularly in the west. To maintain these ideas in the real world in order to retain certain pristine characteristics is not an attempt to construct orthodoxy; Aikido is not religion. It has no dogmatic precepts or tenants and prescribes no particular god or allegiance to race, religion, sect, clan or tribe. The values associated with Aikido are universal and encompassing and should contribute to personal belief structures and not infringe on them. There is great beauty and flexibility in this. It does not preclude the pursuit of other self-development programs, maintenance of diverse religious belief or philosophies, or location in one socioeconomic system juxtaposed with another. It is a way among other ways. Every person is makes their own choices with respect to their training and development that bring them closer to the divine and their divinity. This is a community that derives from all others and binds all together.
IV. Curricula & institutional considerations:
On the mundane side, because this organization is widely dispersed and encompasses many languages and regions, documentation is important. Seniors and teachers must keep students informed of policy, maintain records and provide appropriate information and paperwork when students apply for examination. In order to fulfill the role of an institution, the organization is obligated to provide structure so that the goal of accreditation can be achieved. Organizational mechanisms are more available at this time than ever before. It is important to use the current and evolving technologies to enhance communication and promote the art. Therefore, records must be maintained electronically and presented in an organized and timely manor to objectify student progress and focus on individual issues that might further elicit growth and service. The goal is for framework, and constructive critiquing of persons and groups. Records validate student has having fulfilled curricula requirements. Remember, this is merely intended to be an additional tool for self awareness and group recognition. It is a tricky model intended to retain traditional orientation through current methodologies.
B. Heuristic model:
The curricula is designed as a heuristic model rather than a pedagogical one. this more closely reflects the true nature of the design of Aikido, and it is intended to enhance the integrity of the teaching. The AAI requirements for promotion are intended to elicit competency, individual initiative, creativity, discipline, sensitivity, compassion and an evolving philosophical outlook. It should also permit individuals to progress at their own rate, in actuality this is always the case, but through an orientation by the organization to nurture those with the aspiration more should achieve success. This is not about creating better fighters or promote other qualities without sufficient balance. All such issues must be effectively treated and tested in the model to achieve the goal and fulfill the vision.
2. Former paradigm & perspective:
Generations are now passing from the time when Master Morihei Uyeshiba took the legacy of the martial arts of Japan and placed Aikido in the hands of many. He created a ripple on the pond with deity at the center. Many people have done this both for better and worse in the history of mankind. It is an irony of history that even the best of examples and intentions have the capacity to be distorted and misused.
The AAI is very critical of the Aikido bureaucracy of other current organizations.  The hierarchical matrix prevalent in many martial arts systems is clearly reminiscent of feudal structures that have lived beyond their time and prime. This is part of the reason that the AAI was formed. There must be a movement away from such structures. While there are many sterling qualities that contribute to the making of a martial artist, teacher, statesman and sage the evolution of the mixture of diverse skills is often underdeveloped in one facet or another. Regardless of status, we are all growing. It means that we as evolve much must be kept in perspective and deficiencies must be recognized and remedied. There has for a long time existed divisiveness in the behavior of O' Sensei's children. In some respects, they have carved the planet into petty fiefdoms, which essentially gratify their egos and personal agendas, financial considerations and economic needs of the historical lineage that have nurtured them.
He nurtured many individuals who became personally powerful. They in turn spread Aikido and multiplied his influence. Master Uyeshiba himself was a volatile and eccentric person, demanding the maximum dedication from his students, molding them with ruthless kindness. This is a precarious path to tread, and many of his progeny being flawed, as we all are, negotiated position in the art lacking many of the comprehensive qualities of the master. Some even forgot that he was also farmer, scholar, poet, and artist. O sensei modestly said of himself that he is still in training. This simple understanding is fundamental.
The ascension to rank, position and authority is not associated with the ruthless paradigms of the battlefield, and other such primitive contexts of determining who is right and who is wrong or even who is winner or looser. Rank can ruin a practitioner or manifest a strutting hubris that is a substantial barrier to growth. However, attainment of rank does provide a function of recognition of time in and respect for this effort. Every single person is different, and obviously evolves differently, while there are patterns associated with what might be classifications or typologies of individuals one must understand the pristine notion of uniqueness and be very clear in terms of individual achievement, strengths, weaknesses, and aspiration in multiple fields not just on the mat. Might does not make right, neither does cloying sycophantic politicking, nor the exchange of sexual favors. Much of all these behaviors can be directed to a competitive agenda, what that agenda might be can be very cloudy.
Uyeshiba designed and taught Aikido with no interpersonal competitive emphasis where there was no winner or looser just an endless spiral of experience with many faces. Those teachers that are inclined to integrate competition in the form of ego aggrandizing sparing, Kumete or tournaments are distorting the original context Uyeshiba designed. If individuals require this form of training, which has its own particular benefits and sterling qualities, they are encouraged to do this. However, it is not the correct venue to teach Aikido or to learn Aikido. It is clear that many with vast martial experience in competitive arts choose to train in Aikido for various reasons as well, this is a good thing. However, the characteristic of maintaining Aikido as a non competitive arena for growth is a primarily factor for Aiki to manifest in the form and to be consistent with the founder's vision. The AAI discourages schools that believe that one can teach Aikido as an ancillary to other arts disregarding this primary consideration. So, while the AAI is considerate of teachers that promote multiple formats, this is a slippery area. Martial art schools, particularly of the non commercial kind become families and it is not a positive attribute to exacerbate competitive tendencies in the family or breed a climate that barriers the family from the outside world by exploiting this closeness to foster blind loyalties and taking advantage outside the dojo. This sort of behavior is just another form of hypocrisy.
Although the form, or trappings, of Aikido are martial in origin, its design is clearly transcendent of these trappings. It is designed to extract the virtues of the niche with out manifesting some of the negative characteristics that tend to products of systems that use interpersonal competition as a barometer to performance.
D. Criticism: [See Problems with Teachers]
The behavior of so-called principles, leaders, and functionaries of the Art are not insulated from criticism. These men should now be reconciling their differences and setting the most sterling of examples for their students and manifesting vision for the future of Aikido and perhaps all martial arts with maturity and considerable selflessness. This is typical of powerful egos built on a substrate of conflict conditioning, aggression and life long non adaptation to internal fear mechanisms. This is not exclusive to the martial arts, in fact the martial arts perks these qualities. These same qualities are present in all persons that achieve a particular status within life, all contexts are subject to scrutiny and review. All people are also human and so are teachers, with strength and flaws, and this also is a point to consider, it is embodied in the Japanese phrase Kan Sha, gratitude despite human failings or flaws. No one is perfect, this is particularly true in the mundane world, the world in which we live, in the cities, surrounded by the urbanity of the surrounding culture. There is much that tends to distract from the path here and even minor, or occasional acclaim or success can perk distortions in even some of the most outstanding of performers and sincere of teachers. Sometimes this becomes a contentious context and teachers must be critiqued, this is particularly true where finances, sex, addiction, unwise risk taking, political infighting, personality conflicts, jockeying for position and approval/recognition or other a plethora of issues arise that jeopardize the physical and mental health of the family of practitioners.
Generally, all dojo, training spaces and spiritual oases, are dictatorships, hopefully benevolent ones that are metered with the correct measures of compassion, stress and reinforcement. In fact this is also an ideal desired in the teacher and exhibited in their teaching, particularly on the highest levels of the group hierarchy. Discipline is essential in the training arena, both to benefit the progress of students and to protect in practice. Where there is great progress in terms of effectiveness, the primary issues in the psyche tend to arise and manufacture contention. Clearly, where the strong gather, there is often much butting of heads. Sometimes teachers must reluctantly discipline students or terminate their training. This is only another example of how the training arena is also a microcosm of the world, and has many of the same vicissitudes.
This does not mean that in the grand scheme that each person should not be grateful for the teaching and to the teacher. Situations of dysfunction, malfeasance and even criminal behavior have been sufficient to indicate that venues for dealing with such issues must be clearly defined and not relegated to arbitrary decision-making or even tour de force. While there are many risks associated with democratizing any such system, the time has come for essentially internal or constitutional guarantees and certain mechanisms for appeal and or judicial processes. The tenor of the martial arts in general is to have little tolerance for whining petulant personalities that do not assume the responsibility or recognize the inherent risk, or demands associated with training. However, these also are factors the teacher and practitioners must recognize and train to overcome in the heuristic model. Many people dabble in the martial arts and in Aikido, their experience is not always as expected and not all are suited for certain transactions generally encountered or likely to arrive at some juncture in the process. To seek democratization of this process is part of what would make it possible for Aikido to become a special part of education in the general sense, but to alter the state of consciousness that made the art and is contained in the form of the practice to compromise with petty academic requirements is a huge reform issue, that will take many years to coalesce, but the foundations of the nature of reform should be stuck as soon as possible so there is exposure of the principles of Aikido to more of the general public. Once made available by capable teachers, then the mechanisms within the process can work to alter our collective to perhaps be a bit more cultured.
The original students of the old master, Uyeshiba, are very diverse in character and ability. Many of them are as eccentric and unique in their own way as was the original model. This is part of the intention of Aikido practice; strength of body, mind and character, uniqueness and diversity thrives in such environments. Virtually all of those that had personal contact with the master have sterling qualities. And Uyeshiba, his son and many of the spawn are very erudite and educated scholarly individuals as well as tough and physically resilient. These men and women were brothers and sisters under the same roof as the master, siblings on the mat. Like many siblings, they have unresolved issues between one another that they cling to with an unforgiving ardor. Sometimes there are ancient insults that are carried like a bag of rocks as resentment. Sometimes teachers infect students and use loyalty to continue schisms and burden other with the same anchor of rocks. These are the same mechanisms that are employed to insure cash flow on the business side.
Aikidoka at a certain point become authorities and engage in a peculiar form of speaking engagement, the seminar. This also is about finances, and many teachers deserve to have these forms of support and students benefit. However, there are also philosophical, political and material considerations where some teachers are shunned and others are promoted for no other reason that there is patronage or power oriented agenda. All of this should be introspected in any organization. Academia can be very petty, substituting true skill for the comfort of academic surroundings that act as sugar daddy, and growth for teachers and students are impacted. By the same token, one must not be either anti intellectual or swayed by accolade. Take away a person's title and all that is left is a person's character and performance. Any attempt to fix an adjudication process within the martial arts or Aikido will have to consider all of these diverse factors, but it makes an ambitious project to harmonize such traditional sets of teachings with an academic flavor that can be taught as one would teach any other art or science in a college, and from which credentials are derived to become professional persons, teachers and discoursers on the matter.
It is a primary goal of the Aikido Affiliates International to heal such schisms. Loyalty and respect is not intended to continue such edifices. Unfortunately, loyalty often blinds one to the truth. Loyalty is the sterling virtue that built the third Reich, and many other unyielding forces that have marched across this planet. It is an arrogant quality, full of compromise, rationalization, exclusiveness and brutal self righteousness. Those individuals and organizations that emphasize or even tacitly conform to such regimes are trivializing and distorting the teaching of not only Uyeshiba but many other fiery hearts that came before and are to come. Respect must be deserved not demanded and there must be tremendous self-understanding on the part of teachers to not build cults of personality or overtly or covertly manipulate or otherwise use the students that gravitate to them. As a preference, the AAI substitutes aspiration, dedication and responsibility for the image of loyalty. Somewhere in the process, the student becomes mature in the art and hopefully in life. The goal is that at this point they make a transition to becoming stewards in the cause that gave them so much.
So we must all constantly remind ourselves, that to align with the AAI, implies a clear understanding that we are all in training, leaders, students and teacher alike. It is an act of humility, sacrifice and mutual respect. With accumulation of knowledge, there arrives responsibility and a view for consequences. No one should confuse loyalty as the preeminent virtue. Teachers are not above criticism and neither are organizations. The leadership of the AAI encourages students and teachers to exercise their volition when issues arise that require resolving. However, do not come to them with problems, come with solutions.
I. BEING HUMAN:
I. Being Human:
A. Sovereignty, responsibility, courtesy:
The term heuristic means involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods. etymologically it is derived from German, heuristisch, in turn drawn from New Latin heuristicus, from the Greek heuriskein to discover; akin to Old Irish fo-fúair, he found, 1821. All education that takes has an element of this concept, self discovery usually leaves an indelible impression and is retained forever. Aikido is designed to perform a function, elicit, self discovery, and eventually mastery over self . It is a motile language of interpersonal experience that doesn't actually use words, all that is intended to be there is the experience, the phenomena, which if executed in its most pristine form provides a clear picture of reality. This picture of reality can rarely be adequately represented by abstractions, words or any material edifice conjured by man, all these are mere shadows of the experience, which is both the goal and the process of Aikido. In terms of nomenclature or words, heuristic or heuristics describes how Aikido is in a real sense an educational tool, but one which is not strictly about reading, writing and arithmetic, although most of those individuals that train is Aikido are facile in these modes of expression as well, certainly Uyeshiba was. Aikido is about growth that is real, not imagined, it is manifested by performance and insight. Kanagara no michi, means the way or path to the divine. It is clear that those that practice Aikido seek divinity or at least exhibit divine performance. The layers of performance lie on spectrum from the crass and stilted to effortless, expression that has no obstacle, because one's way on the path is exact, firm and confident. No thing can effect the practitioners focus on the goal, that is the divine. The principle is simple, one just follows the light, and all dark places are illuminated. Of course, the only way this can be done is from inside out, but the so called outside derives from within. It is the paradox of duality, but only for instructions sake.
This is about being human, about isolation, aspiration and conflicted/conflicting drives, motives and agendas. Each person (consciousness) is alone inside and therefore sovereign despite uncertainty and isolation. Each person sees the world uniquely, and has a distinct method of interpreting the workings of the universe, and expressing their thoughts. Each has their own set of rules of conduct and has choice within parameters with respect to their internal and external life. A relatively mature individual understands that if they desire to maximize the good for themselves, they must allocate for the same in others. This is in many respects the golden rule with consideration of the requirements of life. Consciousness requires space, life requires space. Behavior derives from life and life effects behavior. This is simply part of the nature of existence. This applies from the very basic needs to the most esoteric. This is about being on a path during life, and extracting the most from the experience and urging one's self and others simultaneously forward, upward and outward to greater understanding, peace, autonomy, creative expression and prosperity.
There are many connotations when the word consciousness is used, sometimes it implies being awake, often it means self aware, its is an artifact of self reflection, sentience, meaning the ability to sense one's surroundings and derive both primary and secondary feelings due to the exposure to what is perceived as outside the container that carries the consciousness. Many philosophies, including religious, spiritual and materialistic approaches to existence have interpretations of this relationship between finite isolated individuals, their fact of being somewhere on a scale of conscious awareness and the many ways in which the isolated consciousness or mind reaches out to explore and survive through and in the world, or perhaps a greater picture of reality the potentially encompasses all of that which exists. It is a grandiose scheme that begins with arrival on the path. Michi is the path, it is the same calligraphy as do, or Tao.
Some space is shared some is not. That space which is not shared is considered private, to intrude into these regions violate the integrity of minds and spirits. However, virtually everyone contacts others, issues associated with privacy concern how intrinsically invasive any contact is and whether it is requested or not. Intimacy essentially defines a spectrum of requested invasiveness. Civilization has to do with the shared space, issues associated with value, philosophy, religion and spiritual matters has to do with the space that is not shared. Civilization has to do with cultivation, and is in fact derived from the Latin word polite. Customs, manners, respect, and all that attend human interaction and the interaction of humans with the world is linked to both how any particular person cultivates themselves and how they cultivate in the world to either derive a lush sweet fruit, or bitter and poisonous bark. The term culture and cult have common origins,
French & Latin; French culte, from Latin cultus care, adoration, from colere to cultivate more at WHEEL, 1617
Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin cultura, from cultus, past participle, 15th century
Cult means essentially formal religious veneration, or worship, and culture means to cultivate, or till as one would a garden, and more elaborately the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education. What is referred to regarding societies of humans is generally rated by its material product, literature, art, science, economic stability, prominence in reference to surrounding human habitation and other criteria that is biased by virtue of these artifacts. Living harmoniously within the confines of nature and one another is rarely considered a prominent feature of evaluating the status of cultures.
That which is manifested is shared, it is cultured and spread. While there are patterns with respect group belief structures regionally, racially, ethnically and religiously, these are merely the meandering of herds over the face of the planet. To truly define what one "is" contributes to the fulfillment of destiny and manifests infinite diversity. And destiny, fulfillment, without distortion manufactures freedom in the most glorious sense of the term. However, respect/cultivation is necessary, privacy is permission for both one's own existence and for others to perform their investigations on the path. Privacy is not just about security, it cannot completely exist without a merging of compassion, power and restraint. Bur freedom cannot exist without security and security cannot exist without recognition and respect for sanctity or privacy. So, when ever you are making yourself crazy or frustrated, or it appears that others are triggering this frustration and craziness, reflect on what it means to have privacy, be thankful that this space exists so such matters can be reflected upon, and grant the same to others. This permits change without being tugged on by the vicissitudes of the world. Eventually this generates an integrated whole that services itself and others without being tethered by any conceptual or material external bonds.
Once one truly recognizes the path of Aiki, the ontology exists and continues to solidify, regardless of cynical attempts to deny it. It massages the consciousness to correct action in accord with unbinding limitation. It formulates questions and provides answers regarding what, how and why people believe. Belief throughout the ages had some very sterling attributes and some depraved. Whether belief brought misery or joy, not happiness, was the test of the cumulative set of beliefs and practices, their adaptive qualities and overall perspective. Aiki was not invented it was merely named as part of the pattern of reality that moves with and modifies consciousness to prove, test and affirm certain qualities. these qualities then move from the specific to general and are inherently adaptive. All of nature moves and adapts, the idea of ontology is expressed as a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being, or representative of a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of existents. This is different than a classical ontological argument that is contingent on the definition of the divine to derive the nature of the divine, this view is not dependent on definition and purely abstracted concepts, it rests with a metaphysical approach that derives ideation of the divine but does not arrive at a definition of the divine, but only is descriptive of attributes.
4. Thinning the herd:
Today we have many on our planet, all are in various stages of evolution. More and more must evolve with what appears to be less and less. There is hysteria based on an antiquated concept of scarcity. This has always existed to one degree or another. There are two issues here. One is that there are emerging technologies that will ease the burden of scarcity. The Economics of scarcity have made possible the world wide strata of wealth and poverty. The investment in power associated with strata makes some think they are more important than others. The second issue is every life is important and relevant to our consciousness.
To believe, tolerate, justify or promote that some people are not productive or "Useless Eaters" manifest negative intention. There can be no final achievement with these barriers in the path. This is merely a sophistry, a rationalization for the disappearance of billions of consciousnesses because of an other's perceived need for space, wealth or power. Such mindsets make slavery, genocide and theft. Every individual that walks the planet leaves their mark, some of this spoor of man is their garbage, some is represented by the most enlightened efforts possible for the time and place. No one can predict who will do what. Like murder and other willful acts that epitomize the violation of life individuals must recognize and then should behave in a way that preserves life, all life. If the way of Aiki is not also about this it is not worthy as a path. Therefore to nurture and protect all life is a value of itself and is built of respect for the value and sovereignty of individual life. Struggling for each life, one by one, starts with each individual reaching out for another. One may be powerless to alter others lives, but to disparage the survival of others for any reason changes the intent and purity of the aspiration. One must always try to affirm the findings of truth and secure continued progress.
5. Courtesy, Courage and Faith:
To realize such goals each individual must find their own answers, and then there is fulfillment of aspiration. Faith is derived of understanding and is part of aspiration. If one did not believe this goal could be realize they would not undertake the task and endure the risk. One must have the confidence that the possibility of this is real for humankind as well as for themselves. This is the essence of faith, because faith requires courage to endure where endurance is tested. There is a responsibility implicit here and all the rules of proper behavior and etiquette apply. Courtesy is contagious, courtesy is the trappings of respect. Training in Aikido, other martial arts and other growth environments is long and sometimes demanding more than conceived possible. AAI goals are oriented to the individual to elicit many sterling qualities and diverse expressions of creative and productive action in the world. But it need not be any harder than it needs to be to get were all desire to go. Indeed many hands makes heavy work light. We need everyone despite prejudice not weeded from our internal garden.
To realize such goals each individual must find their own answers, and then there is fulfillment of aspiration. Faith is derived of understanding and is part of aspiration. If one did not believe this goal could be realize they would not undertake the task. One must have the confidence that the possibility of this is real for humankind as well as for themselves. There is a responsibility implicit here and all the rules of proper behavior and etiquette apply. Courtesy is contagious, courtesy is the trappings of respect. Training in Aikido, other martial arts and other growth environments is long and sometimes demanding more than conceived possible. AAI goals are oriented to the individual to elicit many sterling qualities and diverse expressions of creative and productive action in the world. This hardly only applies to conduct on the mat but to all conduct in life, and the training is not Sunday morning hypocrisy, but the same issues apply to parishioners as in those that profess religious beliefs. Hypocrisy is not freedom it is slavery to compromise and attended by deceit inward and outward. But it need not be any harder than it needs to be to get were all desire to go. Indeed many hands makes heavy work light. We need everyone despite prejudice not weeded from our internal garden.
Kannagara is a way of intuition, there are no written laws, no strict doctrines of right or wrong. The only laws are the laws which govern natural phenomena and promote harmony. Kannagara is a way of supreme freedom, for the action appropriate to function in harmony with nature occurs spontaneously. For the true follower of the Way, all actions arise from an unconscious and sincerely felt respect and appreciation for the perfection of nature's process and from the knowledge that all things have within them a living part of the Divine Spirit of Kami, the Creator and Origin of the Universe.
Shihan Mitsugi Saotome 
1. Listening to God:
Kannagara seeks union with the divine and manifests expression of the Divine. The AAI considers this a higher ideal encompassed in Aikido and all practitioners should recognize this regardless of their political affiliation within the art. It also permits a myriad of belief structures, philosophies, and even religions. We have free will, the choice between hitting the mark and missing the mark. Aikido is the child of the gods of war, who seeks harmlessness, peace and creative prosperity. It teaches that such virtues need to be protected and nurtured just as a child, a garden or any other commodity of great value must be preserved in order to unfold into their greatest manifestation of good. Aikido mirrors the inner struggle with the outer struggles of humankind. The martial traditions of Japan were folding in this direction even before Uyeshiba's time, so he was not singular in consolidated this trend. He did, however, offer an example through Aikido as to how one could achieve victory without fighting in the conventional sense. Unfortunately, the road is long and the circumstances often adverse.
Meditation is often considered listening to God, meditation need not be passive or non-mobile. Meditation is a tool to attain certain altered states of consciousness other than the one through which most interpret their reality. In virtually all spiritual traditions it is said that the very rocks, wind and elements speak of the divine. How could they speak? For one thing if a person believes in and seeks the divine in themselves they must acknowledge the existence of something greater. In the process they discover in the faces about them the same aspiration, he or she, then, is beginning to listen to God.
2. Talking to God:
Every expression undertaken by man is in a sense talking to god. Often when we pray, we plead for relief, escape, or reward. When we communicate with others it is usually because we want something from them. Even if we employ the external trappings of courtesy, respect and love there is a point at which we must inquire, "are my actions motivated by true regard or simply artifice to attain an objective." Every persons relationship with the divine begins with aspiration. Aspiration never ceases, it only becomes greater. Aspiration is conjoined with the world, it must be expressed to grow, and it must be refined to be expressed.
Kihon is the term used to represent basic practice, it is repetition and reflection, most of our day is spent in this, although few step on the dojo floor where recognition of patterns of behavior is revealed. Dojo means house on the path, or spiritual oasis. To seek the path or a spiritual oasis is a reflection of aspiration. To apply a teaching or principle gathered in the dojo is a reflection of aspiration and some modest achievement. It always works this way. Consistency arrives over time as we talk to others as truthfully as possible, treat others with understanding and compassion regardless of their resistance. This is Aiki, it is not an issue who prevails, it is a question of will, truth and consistency inside reflecting outward.
C. Victory Over Self:
Uyeshiba often referred to an old Japanese saying based on a traditional concept that translated means victory over self through spiritual harmony, Agatsu, self mastery mastery of self, and in other matters, Masakatsu / Katsu Hayabi. This idea is not singular to the Japanese ethos, even Israel means he who wrestles with God. This is another interesting martial metaphor. It might be considered a paradox as to why humanity might compete with god. Uyeshiba manifested his evolution through personal power and unusual insight; he got people's attention. Those who knew him called him God crazy or Holy mad. He wrestled with God for a long time. Many were attracted to his glow and followed him, but not always for the most sterling of reasons. We who followed might begin with lofty aspirations. However, in the process of accumulating even a modest manifestation of the Aikido gift become drawn astray from the original ideal. It is a timeless lesson. The seduction of power and the corruption that lies waiting to degrade and distort honorable of initial intentions. Functionally the AAI maintains the aspirational nature, or ideals of Aikido within all levels of training. The goal is the path, it is all process and any product derived is merely coincidental. Power, victory and control alone are not truth. Religion and truth are not necessarily equatable, but most religious beliefs hold timeless lessons regarding truth.
Truth is the foundation of religion, and despite its zealousness, religion has often presented the shadow of the truth and darkness was the result. Historically religion often precipitated as much division as it has harmony. For example, the children of the God of Abraham are Muslim, Jew and Christian.  Each has a prophet or messiah and they all believe theirs is the true religion. Unfortunately, they have nurtured hate between one another for centuries and even now, there is the shadow of war where their respective enclaves rub against one another. Often when arguments arise about which religion is the repository of the most truth, the discussion degrades into a declaration of my invisible friend is better than your invisible friend. Not very mature.
The word religion, etymologically, is derived from the Latin root ligio meaning to bind, this is the root also to ligature. The connotation of religio is in the very best of senses to confirm belief or faith, not to substitute the words of another for a relationship with the divine. Aikido is not religion but it encompasses the principles of truth that form foundations of religious belief. Aikido by all definitions is broad and encompassing, one can, and should, retain their individual beliefs and still pursue the process. Aiki can be expressed in many ways both within and outside religious contexts, such as in art. Those that abstain from belief in God can also train because the product arrives regardless. Aikido might also be considered an enhancement to other investigations, such as science or exploration. Aikido is not exclusive. Each individual has ultimate choice with respect to their internal world and the manor in which they express their acquired knowledge. Aikido is not mind control it is control of mind.
E. Fortresses of solitude:
A person does not profit by building a fortress inside or outside. Such walls are cold and hard, they keep out the light, and they require high maintenance. These walls can material, or ideological as exemplified in what were called the iron curtain, the bamboo curtain or capitalistic monopolistic practices or systems. Barriers must be pushed aside to feel the full impact of the light. Fear and hate build walls. Aspiration, benevolence, and a love of divine things manifest harmlessness, freedom, and creative self-expression. Forgiveness is hard to both give and accept. Part of the mechanism of forgiveness, personal and external, is to dissolve barriers that create schisms. It is not a function of rewriting history, it is a function of unburdening ourselves of it. This, too, is baggage. It is the unequivocal goal of the AAI to nurture values that increase human potential, healing and creative beneficial action in the world and beyond. It is about spiritual currency not material wealth.
F. Reign, Rain, and Rein of God:
Kannagara is the Reign, Rain, and Rein of God. This paradigm exists in every philosophical and religious context. It resides within personal epiphany. Aikido provides a mechanism to this goal. It is part of the "how to" of Spirituality. Aikido seeks Kannagara; it rubs people together to create the friction of divine fire. Aikido is inclusive not exclusive. Each practitioner is different and therefore they have a unique divine expression of this fire. Inner struggle is reflected in outward conflict, to resolve the need for fighting and temporary victory enables one to reach out to the divine. The messages accorded to truth are timeless.
Aiki is the power of harmony,
Of all beings, all things working together.
Relentlessly train yourself-
Followers of the way.
Master Morihei Uyeshiba I
I. Time Requirements:
Time requirements are accumulated by the day. Person's who attend multiple classes in a day accumulate only one hour toward promotion. The requirements for promotion are designed as minimums. All hours must be documented by an attendance roster checked weekly by the resident senior and signed by the sponsoring Yudansha before presentation to the examiner. AAI attendance cards are available for distribution to all participating local Dojos. Distribution of these cards is the responsibility of the presiding regional representative of the AAI.
In addition to minimum hours, there are minimal monthly and yearly requirements. Students that train more intensely and consistently will perform better in examination and gain greater physical expertise.  However, the goal of Aikido is not merely physical technical performance. Individual growth can be measured by many standards and the process of training allows the opportunity for the student to mature over time. The minimum time between appeals for promotion exist so this process can take place.
2. Symptoms of improvement:
Physical change is the more external and obvious benefit of Aikido. Aerobic conditioning increases, stiff and unyielding people become more supple and yielding; weaker individuals become physically stronger, fat to muscle ratios improve, the lower extremities become powerful and motivating, and the whole body is gradually transformed by the process implicit in the actions built of Aikido principle. The cycle of attacking and falling builds powerful tenacious muscle connections in the intrinsic or small muscles of the body. The joints are frequently taken through full range of motion, maintaining a youthful flexibility. The body gradually becomes tolerant of greater and greater stress.
The mind, body, and spirit are one, as as the body improves so does the mind and body. Symptoms of change in these partitions of the whole are generally more subtle, but significant. As the person accumulates physical skill sets their ego usually swells. This confidence usually brings the person to the Shodan or Nidan level. Many quit after getting the first black belt. This is unfortunate, because at shodan one is considered a serious beginner, and is given more consideration and responsibility by their cohorts and seniors. Students at this point often wonder if they can actually protect themselves, sometimes they undertake cross training. The path may have become a bit tedious. Such transitions should be recognizable by the teacher. While symptoms differ, transitions generally bring some form of crisis. The teacher must be aware of their own transitions to recognize such in others. As training progresses and teachers gather, there will be much discussion of this.
B. Baby steps:
Aikido practice requires adults to tumble; this is an activity that is often abandoned as a person ages. Falling is an act of confidence. Overcoming the fear of falling is to deal with fundamental fear, and is psychologically related to risk taking and the inner ability to press one's limits. Attacking aggressively and being responsive enough to role out of a powerfully delivered defense can be considered as important to self-defense as defending oneself by executing waza. The scenario is unique in the martial art world. It has a verisimilitude to death where the Uke is reborn through ukeme. It is the fatal error that is repaired with out the inconvenience of death or dismemberment to learn the lesson. It is hard lessons made tolerable and survivable through Aiki. There is little benefit if a person does not live to understand the error of their ways.
Practitioners learn to move with power and regain their balance with elegance. In order to perfect Aikido movement the practitioner must be very observant and carefully culture their actions to increase the effectiveness of the techniques. It is an arduous, slow, irritating and often frustrating process, but unalterable by its very nature. It is a substitute for some of the grievous burdens associated with the real world. It is "bene violence", beneficial violence, benevolence. It perfects technique and character without culturing negative intentions and violence. It is a demanding process with rules. Most importantly, it requires that the practitioner always work with others and thus he or she increase their sensitivity to others. Every touch is an intimate relationship latent with potential.  It represents the way every moment should be lived. It mitigates selfish intent that is often too prevalent in other martial arts and creates a climate of cooperation and mutual concern for one another's well being physically, mentally and hopefully spiritually.
C. Fire that burns slowly:
An ancient esoteric phrase says "the fire that burns slowly cleanses, the fire that burns hot destroys." It is necessary to be patient within the process to allow change to integrate. Honest self-examination is the most difficult examination because it requires the individual to look into himself or herself with clarity. Then with a view to consequences, they must make decisions with respect to what they desire to change inside and execute external change to reflect new perspective and goals. Ideally, Aikido feeds the fire of the spirit cleansing it. It is a very personal experience. Aikido forms a bridge to the energy of the universe. It is motivated by our desire and can only be achieved by further purifying that desire. To aspire to this connection is to reflect all that the connection implies love, will, nurturing, compassion, empathy, forgiveness, understanding, humility, joy, and all the other reflections of the divine. Aikido requires years to master. Aikido is designed to lend life to years and years to life. If one wants to be certain that changes are appropriate, they must be executed experimentally over time. These experiments lead to insight and each insight is a footfall on the path. The years of practice are there to give us all shared experience, shared insight and mutual growth. We go together.
D. Imperfect world:
We live in an imperfect world populated by imperfect people, most much like ourselves. If a person sees an issue in their society that they believe needs to be changed, they are in for a big job. All circumstances usually are against them because no matter how egregious the issue he/she is only one person. This person may have proponents and supporters, but this too is not necessarily enough to bring change about. If you are a minority, the cards are really stacked against you. Just because one sees something that is out of the ordinary, it does not mean that others will concur. Even taking action requires courage because others might consider you weird, non-conforming, or even a threat. Society has reasons not to change. In addition, minorities that want to rock the boat are looked on with suspicion.
Things are not much better if you want to change inside. The difference is that you have sovereignty over your own actions and internal states. Even so, issues stubbornly elude detection, habits inhibit consistency in addressing specifics, change comes slowly and time trickles away as internal issues are gradually resolved and your life becomes an example to others.
Teachers should understand this and begin to manifest these qualities. Of course, technical insight and physical ability are important, but with out stability and maturity the teacher can often become a bad example and sometimes an object of ridicule and derision. Sometimes as teachers age, students nurtured in a very Darwinian mindset, think they can defeat the teacher. This is similar to oedipal drives in the psyche. These tendencies are drives, not matters under control. If the teacher sows this seed he must be prepared to gather the fruit.
The mere ability to exercise physical superiority is a petty gift in the spectrum of talents. Strength can be an asset but it can also be a subterfuge and become baggage. Respect should be deserved not demanded. Teachers must not infect students with negative emotions, habits and behavior. Teachers are not perfect and their process is also still underway, but they must be a good communicator, nurturing, adaptive, sensitive, insightful, technically proficient and creative. Teachers are always an example to students in more than technical proficiency. There are many parallels to life in teaching. He is the aspirant or student that has sufficiently accumulated qualities that represents the art. He or she has not reached perfection, but can be considered further on the road, and for him or her, just like for the rest of us, there is much more road.
1. Everyone is special:
Everyone should consider themselves special, but at the same time not any more special than anyone else. A well formed self image is a valuable asset. The concept of ego should not be considered as negative or positive of itself. It is simplistic to focus on or even criticize associated with ego alone, this internal construct must be balanced by other factors within the psyche to become fully integrated. Ego has a role in the growth process. It reflects charisma, strength and confidence. It facilitates and is motivating. It is an important factor for arriving at one's destination. It represents an almost sexual component as instinctual as our basic need to procreate.
However, ego is a troublesome asset. This when added to notoriety and acclaim can manifest great barriers sometimes impossible to surmount. Ego can compensate for other inadequacies of the character. Ego must be placed in perspective and often controlled. Aikido purifies and cleanses the ego. Patience and self-forgiveness is required to negotiate the turbulence that ego generates. The practitioner must come to a realistic understanding of his skill level (no matter how presumably elevated), develop strategies for improvement, and patiently allow the process to give him or her the answers to questions associated with these barrier constructs and add their insights to the diversity that will become the matrix of mass growth. All should remember, the universe has an investment in your being, at every moment this investment is accruing value.
2. Arrogance and Ignorance:
Doing the right thing comes from inside, it is truth saying and doing. Often people criticize simplicity because they have become sophisticated with respect to the world. Arrogance is complex, ignorance is often reflected by arrogance. These are a set of words that can be juxtaposed and interpreted many ways. Knowing and doing are very different. Often uncomplicated innocence is greatly truth directed. Technique is sophistry to some degree, the management of tools is wisdom, and wisdom is also recognition of one's own sophistry, which in turn can be another tool. It is a conundrum time unravels.
F. Balancing on the rolling ball:
Students grow into teachers. To teach is to understand how to elicit the above change in others. Teachers must have a sense of timing, sensitivity, compassion, intuition, humor and many other qualities in order to elicit such change. Granted, this idealizes the teacher who in reality will continue to make mistakes and is as human as the rest of us. It implies a warning to those who do Aikido or for that matter anything that generates notoriety and authority; with position comes responsibility. Increased responsibility has an effect on spiritual leverage and every action has increasingly significant ramifications. It also makes one a target for criticism, so as one gains measure on the path they themselves are measured.
As the physical challenges come under control, the internal challenges become subtler, more difficult to root out and modify. The barriers to growth are always there and teachers must continually challenge themselves and put their ego in perspective in order to benefit the student and themselves. Good fortune, talent and skill can often be the booby prize. Patient practice matures and gives many rewards to almost anyone.
Finally, Aikido is intended to spread, its underling concepts and practical method can reach everyone. Almost anyone, not just professionals, can teach and contribute. Ideally, it will impact behavior throughout the world, as balance and integrity is returned to the big blue ball.
G. Unity of diversity:
Superficially, many things appear to make people different. Culture, food, language, religion, politics, racial and ethnic composition, gender and many other particulars divide us. Aikido as a process changes one's perspective of these particulars to a unity of diversity. Teaching is a step to this understanding. The process never ends. And to those who would be teachers, be aware, your responsibilities are great and the time that you endure between promotions are but a small investment in terms of commitment to Aikido and to people of the world which Aikido serves.
II. PETITIONS FOR PROMOTION:
Within the system individuals can petition for promotion directly to the AAI and the Chairman, however, the preferred route is through the student's direct teacher, assuming the teacher is participating with AAI. Direct petitions are quite permissible because many individuals are mobile and either may have a number of influential teachers or schools. There are on line request mechanisms [See Forms], and locations of testing sites. Again within the system, requests will be shunted through regional representatives, Yudansha, or passed directly to AAI. It is always beneficial to have comments on student progress included with paperwork. This personalizes the request and assures the student is known to examiners. These comments also serve as character references. Current policy allows Yudansha teachers to promote to two ranks lower than themselves using their own discretion. However, this pertains only to ranks lower than Nidan. Until further notice from Sandan up, the chairman will administer all tests.
B. Advancing Rank and Seminars:
Please note that in order to gain promotion more advanced rank the student must also attend seminars taught by Shihan Singer or his specifically designated representative on a frequency indicated for each rank. In some instances, applicants for examination or rank must provide written material, or other creative project in advance on topics relating to Aikido and their personal growth. These projects are intended to encourage the student to express how Aikido has affected their lives and the lives of those about them. They can be creative, encompassing the fine arts, crafts, science, or philosophy. No genuine effort will be considered too small. One can relate how Aikido practice and philosophy enabled him or her to avoid lingering bitterness toward an event in their lives, or how they avoided or dealt with crisis, or how they now treat their loved ones better. Be creative, use your insight, and communicate well. One should never feel they have nothing to offer; your insight may be just what someone else needs to over come an obstacle of their own.
Aikido encourages students to hone their other skills, and broaden their relationship to the world. Technical expertise is merely one aspect of performance and should be kept in perspective. Projects can also consist of efforts to help others and promote Aikido. Selfless effort directed to various aspects of human travail and to the stresses of family and community life can be offered. In these cases, such activities should also be recognized and appreciated by others as some of the best example of Aikido in action. Finally, the presentation of a project indicates that the student has truly prepared for promotion and transition to greater responsibility.
C. Specifics of Promotion:
1. Fees and levels:
The period before the student tests for first-degree black belt is divided into six levels termed kyu ranks. These practitioners are called Mudansha. The period after black belt is divided into ten levels. These levels are termed Dan rank or Yudansha. In the period before Dan rank practitioners wear white belts. There are no demarcations by colored belts. The Dan ranks wear black belts. All practitioners may wear hakama during practice regardless of rank, but it is not required of Kyu rank participants. Yudansha practitioners wear hakama.
Please read the introduction to promotion before even considering the specific requirements of promotion. All promotions require that the person be a paid in full member of AAI. [Membership] The kyu test fee Stateside for application and testing is $50.00. There are considerations for students and minors, please contact AAI administration. All fees include the cost of Certificate of completion when test is passed. $100 for Shodan, $200 for Nidan. Fees for higher ranks will be announced.
When time requirements elapse for each successive rank the student may test, there is not an obligation to test. If the student believes that he or she requires more time between levels, they can take additional time; no one is forced to test. There are often circumstances that postpone testing, school, work obligations, sickness and a many other similar events in one's life. Accommodations can be made due to unusual circumstances. Discuss it with your instructor and work out a solution.
2. While away from home:
Students that train away from an AAI dojo can continue to accumulate hours toward promotion by training in other Dojos. When they are away, they can either take their attendance cards with them or fill them in when they return. It is preferred that they take the cards with them and have the resident instructor indicate their presence, but this is not absolutely necessary. In today's world people are highly mobile and fish in many streams. This is a good thing, and if the student exhibits sincerity and consistency diverse training environs are not impediments to promotion. If difficulty arises in obtaining compliance with this procedure, additional consideration will be granted given the circumstances. The honor system applies to such circumstances. Deception in such matters does little to advance an individual; it will ultimately crop up later.
Testing is a mechanism to both find out both what the student knows and what he does not know, this allows the student to improve their performance by shoring up their weakness as training progresses. Testing through the ranks will have much repetition of common themes both technical and philosophical. Do not be afraid to ask for assistance, your teacher will help you. And teachers have a responsibility to assist. Remember; just as rank is a privilege so is teaching. Nevertheless do your best, and don't obsess, there is always another opportunity; there is always room for improvement.
All techniques can be done with out harm to the participants, part of Aikido's uniqueness is that the bone crunching, joint destroying, ligament tearing aspects of jujitsu has been replaced by subtler less potentially dangerous Aikido techniques or waza. One of the major considerations in promotion is how the examinee treats his training partner. Be respectful of one another.
Nen is never concerned with winning or losing, and it grows by becoming properly connected to the ki of the universe. When that happens, nen becomes a supernatural power that sees clearly all things in the world, even the smallest movement of hand or foot. One becomes like the clear mirror reflecting all things, and since one stands in the center of the universe, one can see with clarity that which is off-center. This is the truth of winning without fighting.
Master Morihei Uyeshiba 
III. POLITICS AND ASSIMILATION:
AAI is by design intentionally "non or a" political. Impossible you say, because where there is an organization there are politics, it is inevitable as the rain. In addition, you may be correct, particularly since part of the purpose of the Aikido Affiliates International is to formalize appeal, adjudicative, and curricula matters. It is inevitable that there be political or internal issues endemic to organizations. However, the worst of organizational qualities can be recognized and expressly avoided.
Cults of personality, poor pedagogical method,  monetary considerations of the center and high ranking personnel and old boy networks not to mention dysfunctional behavior have insidiously corrupted other martial art and Aiki organizations. This is contrary to the intent of Aikido. Environments that become corrupted in this way often tolerate decisions that are arbitrary, capricious and unfair. This pervasive and insidious poison easily results in divisiveness, jealousy and unhappiness in the student and teacher hierarchy. It also often results in the student disillusionment, defections and disparagement of the art.
In Aikido, fellow practitioners are your brothers and sisters, you may not always get along, but you live together on the mat. This does not mean that seniors and teachers should bend to the wining and cajoling of those around them, it means that he or she must have a clear perspective on these issues and gain experience negotiating them to benefit the common goal. There is strength and diversity in numbers. The combined assets of any group always outweigh its combined liabilities, other wise it would not remain cohesive. Part of the growth mechanism of Aikido is the constant introspection and feedback of those around you to maintain assets and convert liabilities.
Currently, virtually all certificates and diplomas are meaningless regarding any type of academic or even proficiency evaluation through out the martial arts. Some teachers claim that acquiring certain rank in an art has an equivalence to bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. There is no verification that this is so. It is a pitiful fact that most martial environs are populated with persons whose only pedigree is fighting or lineage. There are few objective criteria that the sincere aspirant can evaluate to access the maturity and skill of a teacher. Lineage is the form of the past. Certainly, there are persons that are remarkable teachers and performers, and exhibit sterling character and great insight in nurturing students. However, the path is not clear for the student, particularly in the west, where money takes precedence over other values. Many Orientals have become equally as corrupted or confused as they are exposed to the temptations of the time and place. Those persons that actually have skills will agree that perhaps a form of accreditation should be evolved suitable to the western mindset. There is controversy here, but rather than ignore the problem, the issue should be addressed.
One of the primary goals of the AAI is to create accreditation while allowing for the diversity of skills and abilities of individuals to contribute to the overall growth of Aikido. This is a precarious balance between formal organization policy in terms of curricula and teaching method, and openness and integration of novel ideas. Therefore, AAI positions on such matters will always be evolving, but it will be constantly clear that its policies will encourage abstinence from political intrigue, dysfunctionality and misconduct. As Aikido matures in the world, there will be increasing numbers of skilled practitioners providing monumental numbers of students all destined to enhance the overall depth of the art. Organizations must also adapt and mature, it is with these best of intentions that the AAI was formed.
C. Assimilation and Petitioning for Rank:
Aikido Affiliates International is an ecumenical organization embracing all Aikido styles, and Aiki-like systems and organizations. Today there are many Aikido organizations and many skilled practitioners. A skilled practitioner from any of these organizations may petition for promotion in the AAI. This is a deliberate action on the part of the AAI intended to unify, absorb and embrace the diversity of Aikido practice with an emphasis on individual adaptation, skill and philosophy. Those who desire to join the AAI can also be members of other organizations and do not need to disassociate themselves with their teachers and respected elders. However, realistically there are hundreds of various ways that styles can differ so the petitioner must give not only ample thought to this alliance, but they must sincerely incorporate technical aspects of waza, gain an appreciation of the prevailing teaching mechanisms and exemplify the ideals and goals of the AAI.
Consideration of promotion from other systems is based on experience, a documented personal and martial art resume' and an intensive evaluation by the Chairman including a personal interview. The appellant must have attended AAI seminars. All such appeals are by nature unique and specific and will be given judicious consideration.
To become a member of the AAI the appellant must be prepared to pay all requisite fees in advance, submit documentation and undergo evaluation. Rank given by the AAI may or may not reflect their current rank in other arts. Evaluation may or may not include testing as specified in testing requirements. These requirements are not intended to denigrate or diminish the quality of other teaching. It is merely to establish that the person applying is sincere concerning his or her appeal and is prepared to invest their time and energy to the AAI community goals. In the past many powerful and ruthless fighters, warriors and mercenary types have gravitated to Aikido in search of greater martial power in order to overcome others. Some have begun Aikido with scars on their soul that they thought could not be scrubbed away with a wire brush. Change is always possible. Membership in the AAI is not guaranteed, by your actions, you are judged, and by your change in demeanor, you comply with the goals of the community. This is the real test of conversion to AAI membership. To desire rank for prestige is vain and shallow.
To all those who desire rank and especially by this means remember well, rank is responsibility. The individual's understanding of this will be displayed by his current actions. The mere receipt of a certificate does not give license. Revocation of membership can occur and rank revoked should a persons actions or behavior warrant.
IV. FINAL COMMENTS:
These final comments may be considered platitudes but they are important to the understanding of the mission of AAI. Life and Aikido are the same. Life is full of repetition, conflict, disappointment, difficulty, and sadness but there can be profound novelty, aspiration, joy and fulfillment. This does not represent a two dimensional balancing act. It is better described as like walking being interrupted falling. Life is movement, change, physical growth, death and exploration, challenge, fear, faith, courage, expansion of awareness, insight and consciousness, and aspiration. In dynamic conditions balance is achieved through homeostatic mechanisms to maintain any entity that is perceived as distinct. But the term distinct is merely a taxonomy to classify objects, phenomena and patterns, to assist in the walking as interrupted falling. Aikido is a path to the elevated qualities of man. It assists the practitioner to shed the limiting factors of existence and come to see the limitless attributes that are omnipresent. The Aikidoka is an aspirant, a person with ideals and ideas. Life can deplete a person and turn living bitter and tiresome. Aikido is intended to transmute the negative tendencies of life to positive, nurturing experiences, thoughts, emotions and actions. Aikido like life is not meant to be easy, conflict and difficulty are implicit. Aikido is a message to mankind that the negotiation of life can be generous and meaningful not just despite personal hardship but through them.
The traveler cannot be complacent, lazy or indolent. This is far from the intention. The Aikidoka should be a fiery heart, a resolute spirit that sees spiritual profit in the practice and philosophy. Aikido is not for everyone, but it could be. You as an individual might think that you could not aspire to better things. This is not true. You have a soul and spirit; they need to be nurtured in order to shine brightly. If you polish an other's spirit, you are benefiting your own. This is not religion and does not have dogma or worship, but it embraces religious ideals and concepts of perfection in the individual and world. It is not a cult because it does not tell you how you must live your life, it shows you how you may discover truth for yourself. It is also not just a path to personal power. Power is seductive and corruptible. Aikido is an embracing, nurturing practice that respects life and strives for all sentience to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and eye-to-eye. Aikido is designed to elicit not to convert. It is many hands making heavy work light. It is designed to bring mankind to a place where prosperity, peace and a profound respect for all life are as constant as change.
There is considerable consideration of English, Latin, Greek and other Language bases in these works. There is an effort to be specific and succinct with respect to all language use. To facilitate this as as a part of membership with the Global Natural Health Advocates, this site links with that site's extensive Glossary and Commentary resources. While Aikido is a Martial Way, derivative of a culture, there are many associations and clarifying issues that require comparison between language bases. There is a sincere attempt to avoid both ethnocentric and biased interpretive slants to specific topics and contexts. However, there will always be differences, and diversity, that contribute to the rich nature of these environments that will beg continuous reexamination and expansion. The goal is to provide a platform on which this form of discussion and contribution can take place. It is part of the project to examine these concepts from many language angles so all in whatever language, or ethic background can participate and benefit.
Dictionaries and Word sources
Random House Webster's Electronic Dictionary, Thesaurus, College Edition,
[Designated as RHED]
Word Perfect Corp. version 1.5, ©1992
Miriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary
[Designated as MWCD]
Microsoft Corporation © 1990-2000
RHED & MWCD are search engines so no specific page references are noted.
[The use of multiple dictionaries and sources often clarify minutiae otherwise not clearly recognizable. This methodology is designed and encouraged as a learning tool in all venues of discovery.]
Other definitions and support materials derived from multiple sources including Black's Legal Dictionary, Dorland's, Stedman's, Merk's, many Medical/science specialty resources, and other literary/historical resources.
There is occasionally commentary associated with definitions that clarify
etymology or other nuances of words, phrases and conceptual contexts.
[THIS TAKES READERS TO GLOSSARY INTRODUCTION PAGE WITH ALPHABETICAL INDEX[
Copyright © 2000-2003 by AAI, all rights reserved. Any use or distribution of contents, logos, graphics without express written permission is forbidden.