an excerpt from Aikido As A "Do"
by Dennis Hooker
In some Aikido schools, the distinction between do and jutsu has been lost. As a result, many students of Aikido do not know what they are practicing or what makes their art different from others. In a growing number of schools that claim to be teaching do, people seem to believe that bashing their partners with well-executed technique is the ultimate aim. And, in some schools, Aikido has even been infected by a Hollywood style, which was created to market a product to the movie-going public.
To practice a jutsu (e.g., Aikijutsu) is to study techniques developed for combat. In contrast, to practice a do (e.g., Aikido) is to practice the way of peace and harmony -- to endeavor to become more humane, more civilized, and more in touch with the universe.
Increasingly, students of Aikido are reverting to actions that lead to conflict rather than to constructive resolution. Many look at Aikido technique as passed down by O'Sensei -- technique which embodies the social and spiritual concepts of Aikido -- and see only movements that can be used for destruction. But the in-depth study of a do involves more than learning physical technique. It involves the assimilation of values, attitudes, and social ethics.
Ideas of do and jutsu can and should be carefully distinguished. Suppose that we drive the same kind of car. We get in our cars in the same way, start up in the same way, put the cars in gear in the same way, and so on. However, while you drive your car in a Demolition Derby, I drive my car to church. Our reasons for using the cars are different, and the results of our use are different. We used identical vehicles but derived different results. Similarly, two people might teach the same technique for different purposes and with different results. When Aikido is taught as a do, technique is a vehicle for learning and not an end in itself.
Those who want to pursue a sport can find good coaches, and those who want to live portions of their lives in a make-believe world of the ninja can find people who will take their money in exchange for that service. There is nothing wrong with these activities as long as people are aware of what they want and what is being offered them. Those who want to study Aikido as a do should be careful to find a school in which Aikido is taught as a do.