Most people have the sense that accepting others is the mark of a spiritually mature person. Nishio Sensei often referred to Aikido as “Yurusu Budo” – the martial art of acceptance. What do we mean by “acceptance?” Is it simply being a pacifist or allowing people to do anything they want?

Aikido is not the kind of martial art where “anything goes.” It is an art guided by strong moral and ethical core principles. We have specific goals and ideals to which we aspire at both a technical as well as a philosophical level. For example, at a technical level we strive to continually reflect the proper use of the sword even in empty hand techniques. At a philosophical level we strive to continually reflect the spirit of aikido which is the spirit of compassion and forgiveness. These central aspirations of aikido are what make aikido a worthy pursuit that elevates the human spirit.

There is a simplistic notion that suggests if we are to practice acceptance then we must accept every aspect of other people’s actions and behavior, that we should never resist or correct another person. This is a superficial view of acceptance. Acceptance means that we do not deny the humanity of other people in spite of our differences.

The process of dehumanization involves reducing another person or group of people to a limited definition of our own choosing. The person is no longer a person in our mind, only a symbol or caricature. Once contained within that caricature they become somehow less worthy of human dignity and respect and are thereby reduced from their fully human status. Evidence of this is when people use a derogatory term in referring to another person or group of people. Further evidence is when violence occurs. It is for this reason that aikido strives to transform conflict and violence into peaceful resolution.

Acceptance means never forgetting the divine presence within each human being, even those who oppose us, and remembering that we are all one human family. Always remember that all people are brothers and sisters.

~Philip Greenwood, Sensei