Make love, not war! In the late 60s, this phrase could be seen flourishing on the back of Aikido kimonos (keikogi). People who came to practice a martial art, and learn how to handle a sword, wrote on their training jackets "make love, not war"...

It's all very well to smile, of course, but it's worth thinking about for a moment. For the idea that Aikido is a manifestation of universal love, while taken up without much thought by the Woodstock generation, is first and foremost that of the Founder of this art.

In their ignorance of Aikido, the young people of the time had no chance of understanding what O Sensei Morihei Ueshiba meant by the concept of awase (ai). The translation of this concept by a term as general and equivocal as love, at a time in Western history when love had acquired a romantic meaning, was a further source of misunderstanding. Nevertheless, the misunderstanding is based on a very real dimension of Aikido, as shown in the video below :

Aikido techniques are indeed designed to break, to destroy, and they are frighteningly effective at doing so. This effectiveness, however, could not exist if it were not the result of the harmony and balance of that perfect moment in the universe that is every correctly executed Aikido movement. For the manifestation of perfect martial dynamics depends, like the manifestation of life, on the fundamental order of the universe. Perfect destruction requires respect for the same laws of balance that enable the universe to create :

In the subtle space where these notions come together, the notions of good and evil appear relative, they lose their relevance and we must avoid any moral point of view, as O Sensei himself said after Nietzsche (while tidying up his library in Iwama I found several works by Nietzsche, I don't know if he had read them). It's from this perspective that we must understand the love he speaks of, beyond good and evil if you like.

The technique illustrated on the video can have neither power nor effectiveness if it is not carried out from beginning to end in accordance with the rotating principle of Aikido, which goes by the name of irimi-tenkan, or rather tenkan-irimi we should say, so true is it that entry is a consequence of rotation. Similarly, light can only emerge from the night it tears apart, and it's for this reason that yin is placed before yang in Eastern metaphysics. The union of yin and yang directs energy towards the phenomenon of manifestation, towards forms : “ten thousand beings” for the creation of the forms of life, ten thousand movements for the creation of the technical forms of Aikido.

The aim is not to do good, nor is it to do evil, the aim is to act in accordance with the order of the world in a given situation. Finding out what this order is, is the first object of study. The moral order comes later, and that's another matter. The love that arises from this quest is the recognition of the perfection and wonder of this universe, down to the smallest detail. Aikido, as a martial art, is one aspect of this path.