Aikido operates on four levels simultaneously: personal, martial, social, and spiritual.
Translating “Aikido” into English as “The Way of Coordinating Energy” or “The Way of Harmonizing Spirit” already displays the subtlety and complexity of the term in both Japanese and English.
On the personal level, Aikido involves awareness that coordinates one’s mind, body, and breath in everyday activities as well as in self-defence techniques.
On the martial level, the approach is to blend with an attack and use that movement and momentum to control the attacker in such a way as to put an end to the conflict, ideally without either person sustaining serious injury.
Socially, living an Aikido life means demonstrating empathy while not allowing oneself to be pushed around: compassion combined with strength.
Spiritually, O-Sensei often talked about uniting one’s spirit with that of the universe. That is the most mysterious part of the whole activity. It is beyond words.