By Sean Hannon
I have practiced the Japanese martial art of Aikido, in one form or another, for over 10 years. At first glance I always thought that I practiced Aikido for self-defense or just because it was fun. However, I was recently listening to a recording by peak performance coach Anthony Robbins. Tony was discussing what he calls "The Six Human Needs." In this recording he articulates how all humans have six basic needs that must be met on some level. Some of these needs appear to be in conflict with one another, but, in fact, are not. I suddenly realized how, for me, Aikido meets all of these six human needs!
The first two human needs appear to be in conflict with each other, but are actually complementary. The first is the need for certainty. That is, people require some degree of predictability in their lives on a daily or almost daily basis in order to function. One form of certainty could be physical security or safety. Being a defensive martial art, Aikido would certainly meet this first need.
The second human need is that of uncertainty. People require a certain amount of variety or unpredictable events in their lives, too, in order to prevent boredom and depression. Aikido meets this need, as well. Every Aikido class is different and you never know what new, fun or challenging exercises or techniques the instructor is going to have you do. There are an unlimited number of techniques in Aikido and practicing the same techniques with people of different sizes and strengths adds even more unpredictability and variety to each and every class. So Aikido meets this second human need.
The third and fourth human needs also appear in conflict with each other, but actually are not.
The third human need is the need for significance. Significance may also be described as uniqueness or individuality. That is, people must possess their own sense of identity and individuality otherwise they feel lost or unimportant. By practicing Aikido, I have always felt unique. It has been estimated that only about ten percent of the United States population practices martial arts. Of that 10% the overwhelming majority practice more well-known martial arts like, Judo, Karate or Tae Kwon Do. Today, everybody seems to be obsessed with mixed martial arts (MMA) or Brazilian Jujitsu. However, those who practice Aikido probably represent less than one percent of those who practice martial arts. This makes me even more unique – even more of an individual. I have always enjoyed being different, being unique, and Aikido allows me to continue to express that need.
The fourth human need seems paradoxical to the third. It is the basic human need for a sense of community or connection with others. While Aikido may only represent less than one percent of those who practice martial arts, that one percent still equates to a community of hundreds of thousands of people around the world. When you practice at an Aikido dojo (or an Aikido school) you aren’t just exchanging money for martial arts instruction. You are joining a tightly knit community. I love hanging out with people from my Aikido dojo – Castle Rock AIKIDO – because Aikido has a tendency to attract the nicest, friendliest, most genuine people I know. The sense of community is immediate and powerful. When I practice Aikido I get the benefit of feeling like a unique individual and part of a great community at the same time.
The fifth basic human need, according to Tony Robbins, is that of growth. People must feel as though they are growing in order to be completely fulfilled. In Aikido, I always feel as though I am growing. I, of course, grow physically in my martial arts skills but I also grow psychologically and even spiritually. Aikido teaches me mental and emotional skills like patience and humility. It shows me through a physical dialogue how I tend to interact and communicate with the world in my daily life and Aikido provides for me a method, a vehicle for improving that interaction. Aikido teaches me how confidently enter life, how to blend with life and, ultimately, how to redirect life into a direction of my choosing and my control. Spiritually, Aikido teaches me and constantly reminds me just how connected we are to each other and how the relationship we have with ourselves and with others can continue to grow and to improve when we learn to effectively communicate not just verbally, but physically, as well. By physical I mean the way I carry myself – my posture, my facial expressions and other body language. Aikido helps me to see how much my whole physiology – my whole being – engages and interacts with others and the cumulative impact it has on the world and, therefore, my reality. As a whole, Aikido is a massive path for growth for me that teaches me how to consciously create my life to my choosing on a daily basis. I know that I am not alone in this understanding as many other students at Castle Rock AIKIDO feel similarly.
The sixth and final basic human need is that of contribution. Humans must have a sense that they are contributing to something greater than themselves in order to feel fulfilled. Of course, Aikido satisfies this human need, too. As an Aikido student, you are both a student and a teacher. All students of Aikido at some point end up working with newer students and they look to you as a model. This gives you an opportunity to contribute to the progress of others, to share your experiences and the benefits you receive in Aikido with new students. There is a tremendous personal, emotional reward to Aikido students when they know they have contributed to another student’s growth in the art. So contribution is an easy need to meet when practicing Aikido.
Ultimately, Aikido is meant to be experienced firsthand, not read about. Aikido is always challenging to describe purely in writing because the experience of Aikido transcends the written word. The practice of Aikido really represents an opportunity for transcendence on every level of existence. Come discover how Aikido can serve as a catalyst for tremendous growth and expansion in your life. We invite you to come try a class at our Aikido school in Castle Rock, Colorado for free. Call us today at 720-221-3665 or visit us at: www.CRaikido.com for a limited time special offer. Experience a power you never knew you had. Experience Aikido!