How can a martial art emphasize harmony?
Literally, being “tied together” or a “knot”, musubi plays through aikido on many levels. It is the integration of the movement of our own bodies through conditioning. It is the mental connection we make with another. It is the energetic connection we make with a partner during the performance of technique. Making these connections with grace and subtlety rather than rigid force is essential to the practice of aikido.
The “remaining mind” is a subtle concept referring to the direction of attention. While strong intention is required to perform technique, it must be balanced by a sensitive awareness of the effects we produce, of our own vulnerabilities that we expose when we perform technique and of the environment in which we act.
The structure of aikido training is cooperative, not competitive. One partner — the uke — initiates technique by attacking and receives the technique. The other partner — the nage — performs technique. Although “ukemi” usually implies passivity, both nage and uke are practicing aikido. Ukemi in the broad sense means providing energy with the structure and intensity that allows both partners to use the technique to learn aikido effectively and safely.