I have long believed that what sets aikido apart from most other martial arts is the fact that it is more a philosophy for life demonstrated on the mat rather than the other way round. It was the founder’s dream that this wonderful art of ours would make a positive contribution to the world at large and be a force for good.
It was with this in mind that I am involved with Aiki Extensions, an International group that is et up as a charity based in America that seeks to bring together people that want to use aikido off the mat as well as on it to make a difference in the world. Some are working at bringing it in to mainstream education, others use it in important peace initiatives around the world or apply it in their business lives or as part of therapeutic work with the likes of abuse victims.
Members donate what they can by way of money or skills and time to try and make a difference and the money raised has been used to support some wonderful work in hotspots around the world like the middle east, the Brazilian slums and in Ethiopia, (follow the link for details: http://www.aiki-extensions.org/projects.asp ).
As a by product, it has brought together aikidoka across a variety of styles, associations and from across the world to work together and on occasion to take part in some truly heart warming and inspiring courses. The courses that I have attended in the UK have all been brilliant and truly reflect what aiki is all about.
Linked below is a letter, http://www.britishaikido.co.uk/Misc/Charity/AikiExtensions/AikiPeaceWeekDojo-choLetter.pdf which explains why I am writing at this time and which I hope you will find inspiring and allow you to join in this great work while providing a great opportunity to promote aikido at both a club and association level. We all have the chance to show the world what aikido is about by generating some excellent publicity that should hopefully bring new people onto the mat and at the same time maybe raise some money. Money will make a difference to people whose lives are not as fortunate as ours and all by using aikido to bring a positive influence into their lives.
I hope that you will feel able to get involved and to encourage your member clubs individually and collectively to get involved in ‘International Peace Week’. I would also be grateful if you could pass on the word to your aikido contacts both here and abroad.
My personal dream is that we can not only use this art that we love to make a difference to the world but that at the same time, we can use it as a bridge to work together across Association and Style and bring a little bit more harmony to the aikido world.
Frankly the number of members in the UK is very small and whilst this is the case, I am struggling to achieve anything. Again, can I ask you to consider joining, (it doesn’t have to cost anything at all), you just have to be interested in the work that is going on and maybe occasionally to help out, by running a fund raising event or offering your services to teach at courses. I would really appreciate your feedback and if you can help, please email me back as we are in the process of building the list of dojos across the world who want to take part in what will hopefully be a ground breaking event and I want to make sure that if you join in, or join up, that you get the credit for doing so.
UK Director of Aiki Extensions
Chair of Aikido for Daily Life - Members of the BAB
16 Low Road
Burwell, Cambs, CB25 0EJ