Decision-making and Aikido’s 5 martial arts steps


That's me trying to look fierce.

By Anthony O. Alcantara

To the uninitiated, Aikido may appear to be a graceful, dance-like martial art taught by men fond of wearing black skirts. And to those who know Steven Seagal, that great popularizer of Aikido, it may appear to be a brutal form of self-defense that involves breaking fingers and arms like twigs.

As an Aikido practitioner for 13 years, I’ve often wondered about the sound of breaking arms. But then I never got willing and enthusiastic volunteers for my live experiments.

In any case, Aikido can be both graceful and brutal. It’s very effective, too. But it’s a long story and I’m here to discuss the parallels of great decision-making and Aikido’s five martial arts steps.

Recently, my Aikido sensei, or teacher, announced via email that there is a video about these Aikido steps for sale. I think the video is a great idea. But having recently attended a seminar on analytical thinking at the company I work for, I thought of using decision analysis.

Should I buy or not?

That’s when the idea hit me. Why not use the five Aikido footsteps as a framework for decision-making?

It may appear silly, but who knows what may come of it. So here are the results:

1. okuri-ashi – Some rough basics first. When you assume the basic stance In Aikido, one foot is in front of the other. In okuri-ashi, the front foot or the leading foot initiates the movement and moves forward. The hind foot follows, and you end up in the same stance.

In decision-making, sometimes we need to initiate the move to come up with a good decision. We initiate the research and gathering of information. In this case, I did a little research and I found out there is no other similar video about the five Aikido steps made here in the Philippines. If there is one, please let me know.

2. tsugi-ashi – Now this involves the hind foot initiating the movement, moving forward until it reaches just behind the leading foot. The leading foot then quickly moves forward and you end up in the same stance. In making decisions, sometimes we are pushed by events and ideas. We don’t initiate the movement. We are pushed and forced to make a decision. The stimulus that we receive forces us to think about the situation and take action.

In deciding whether to buy the video or not, I was pushed or influenced by my sensei, who can be very very persuasive. He’s a 5th dan black belt and has almost 30 years of experience in teaching Aikido.

3. ayumi-ashi – This is just like walking. From the ready position, the hind foot moves forward and overtakes the leading foot, which subsequently takes a similar quick step forward so that you end up in the same initial stance.

Sometimes, when making decisions, we are not pushed by other people but led or directed to certain directions. Other people initiate the move and lead us to certain decisions.

In my case, I was also pulled and led by my sensei to make a certain decision. Of course, the promise of a great product attracted me, too.

Another "warrior-like" pose.

4. tentai – From the ready position, you just turn 180 degrees or face in the opposite direction, with your feet turning but still on the same two spots on the floor.

In decision-making, you also consider opposing views or perspectives. I’ve turned 180 degrees and thought that the video won’t really make a significant difference in my Aikido.

5. tenkan – This also involves a 180-degree turn. But there is a difference. You plant one foot in place and turn your body and swing your other foot behind you until you face the opposite direction.

Sometimes you just have to look at it from all directions or perspectives. In any decision there are always other perspectives, and all of them can  be valid.

In deciding whether to buy the video or not, I had to look at different perspectives: from the perspective of the learner, the skeptic, the know-it-all, the open-minded, the spend-thrift, the curmudgeon, the gullible, etc.

In the end, after considering these five Aikido steps in my decision analysis, I decided to buy the video.

Why? Simply because it is a well-made video and a pioneering video for my club, which is the Makati Aikido Club. And I wholeheartedly support any worthwhile and great product.

I know I didn’t have to use the five Aikido steps to make a decision. But then again, would you like to volunteer for my experiment? The five Aikido steps can help you decide.


(For those interested in Aikido or the Five Aikido Steps video, visit the Makati Aikido Club website


One Response to “Decision-making and Aikido’s 5 martial arts steps”

  1. Dear sporter: from an Iranian sporter to another sporter . I am in iran I am thr master of aikido
    And ju-jitsu . I wish that I will practice in your gyms . I want to come to your country for learn your sport. With dest wishes
    Navid mahmoodi

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