From the deepest spiritual perspective, everything in the Universe is One. This perspective was certainly O Sensei’s “Lions Roar” declaration, with his awakening manifesting into the art we call Aikido. But as that Oneness divides, duality is created, and it manifests into infinite shapes and forms. The most fundamental duality is none other than Masculine and Feminine. They are universal principles.
This is the Yin/Yang source code that appears throughout the manifest universe. Whether looking at physical or non-physical phenomena, exteriors or interiors, animate or inanimate objects, this universal source code exists in all phenomena. And just as it exists out there in all the Universe, so too does it exist inside each of us. Since this is so fundamental to our practice it can be very helpful to understand the masculine & feminine principles in Aikido.
We All Have Both
We all have masculine and feminine qualities within us, regardless of our gender. Some people are naturally more on the masculine side of the spectrum, some of are naturally more on the feminine side of the spectrum, and some are naturally balanced 50/50.
And even though most men are more on the masculine side of the spectrum, some men are balanced 50/50, and even some who are more on the feminine side of the spectrum.
The same goes for women, most of whom are on the feminine side of the spectrum, with some being balanced 50/50, and some who are more on the masculine side of the spectrum.
But regardless of your gender and where you reside on the spectrum of masculine/ feminine, we all have the potential to access both principles within us.
3 Mistakes On Masculine & Feminine Principles
For over 15 years I’ve been actively working with Masculine and Feminine principles in Aikido. In that time I have found that there are 3 mistakes people make in relation to this issue. Unless these mistakes are understood and worked through it is almost impossible to come to a mature understanding and expression of Masculine and Feminine principles in your Aikido, not to mention in your life.
The first, and perhaps most common mistake is that of polarization. This happens when you are strongly identified as one of the poles. This prevents you from experiencing, accessing, or allowing the opposite pole in your Aikido. “Polarization” could be caused by many things. Perhaps you had poor role models in your development and are simply unaware that accessing the opposite pole is a developmental potential. It could also be because of some negative or even traumatic past experience that makes you wary of, and cautious about the opposite pole. Or perhaps the cultural or educational context you are in does not allow integration of the opposite pole.
For example, if you hold the idea that “Aikido must be strong” it will keep you from exploring the softer principles of the art (check out “Aikido & The Feminine Principle” Here), and vice versa. Or holding to the idea that “Aikido must be peaceful” may cause you to avoid conflict. Whatever the case for polarization may be, as long as you stay polarized then your development will be arrested. And most importantly, this cuts you off from all of the positive aspects that exist on the opposite end of the spectrum. Leaving your development in Aikido incomplete, or imbalanced at best.
Confusion can exist if you have never clarified how the opposite poles exist in you, and how they function in your Aikido. This confusion is because of not clearly understanding the difference between the many masculine and feminine aspects such as active and receptive, objective and subjective, rational and intuitive, structure and flow, and so on. Even simple concepts such as “Irimi” and “Tenkan” get blurred, leaving their function not fully understood.
This confusion can also include situational awareness. For example, some situations in Aikido (and life) may require that you meet it with the feminine aspects of openness, allowing, connection and receptivity. While other situations in our Aikido may require of us more masculine qualities like directness, objectivity, rational understanding and decisiveness. As long as the masculine/ feminine aspects are confused in your own experience it will be difficult to meet life situations with the appropriate response.
3. Refusing Distinctions
It is a sad fact that our culture at large (and as an extension our Aikido culture) is full of negative stereotypes around the masculine and feminine. We have a long way to go in deconstructing and balancing these aspects. But one of the shadows of deconstruction gone too far is making a “move to the middle”. When this happens then the very usage of the terms “masculine” and “Feminine” become taboo, and the celebration of these opposite qualities is not allowed. This is because extreme deconstruction cannot distinguish between man-made stereotypes and inherent types that exist in nature.
From this extreme perspective, the very existence of the masculine and feminine spectrum is refused. A refusal which forces everyone to be equally androgynous and cut off from the true richness of the opposite poles.
Relaxing the polarization, clarifying the confusion, and allowing natural distinctions of the opposite poles goes a long way toward integrating masculine and feminine principles in your Aikido and in your life.
Question: How are the Masculine and Feminine principles allowed, or not allowed in your Aikido style? Join the conversation by leaving your comment below!