Know yourself, the four classical elements & Aikido

In a world more and more dominated by material means and aims, is there still room for a human sustainable development? Can we still learn from the classical teachings? What is understood by Ethics and Morality? What is the importance of knowing ourselves?

Topics: Classical and human sustainable development, practical psychology, introducing the concept of personality, body and vitality control, emotions and mind relationship, understanding human cycles, concentration, attention, will, habits … 

This is in brief what this course is all about, for more check this.

It is a very interesting course. So far I have attended 2 classes. Even though I was perplexed sometimes, but I benefited a lot.

In the first class we discussed the four elements that classical philosophy considered the basis for explaining ‘everything’: Earth, Water, Air, Fire. These elements can be reflected on humans: Physical part (Earth), Vitality (Water), Emotional (Air), Mental (Fire). Each one of these elements has its own agenda. Take the example of a student before the exams, his body is tired from sitting for long time on the desk, his vitality is low due to the possible low esteem for finishing his studies in time, his emotions are a mix of anticipation and fear, his mind is running fast to grasp all the informations needed to pass the exam. So it is obvious that the four elements speak different languages.

What is needed it to find the equilibrium point where all these 4 factors are in balance.

Another point that stuck to my mind is the differentiation between Ethics & Morals. Ethics are the main ideals that a person believes in. Morals are the applications of these ideals. So a balanced person is the one who think about certain ethics and applies them as his morals, in contrast to a person who think in certain ideals but acts differently.

I found other sources on the same subject of the four elements in wikipedia:

Many ancient philosophies used a set of archetypal classical elements to explain patterns in nature. The Greek version of these ideas dates from pre-Socratic times and persists throughout the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, deeply influencing European thought and culture; but the concept is far older in the Far East, and was widely disseminated in India and China, where it forms the basis of both Buddhism and Hinduism, particularly in an esoteric context.The modern scientific periodic table of the elements and the understanding of combustion (fire) can be considered successors to such early models. (picture from wikipedia)four_elements_representation.png

In Aikido, O’sensei discussed these four elements many time, for example: “Historically in Japan four separate aspects of functions of mitama have been recognized. The first is Kushimitama, or the heavens, which give light to all things in order to purify their KI. The second is Sachimitama, or the Earth, which lavishly provides and never expects anything in return. The active and valiant Aramitama, or fire, is indispensable for any type of development. The harmonious Nigimitama is the water that can flow anywhere and rules the Earth.” from

Actually most of the Aikido movements are based on these elements. Here are some of O’sensei quotes related to this subject:

* The Art of Peace is based on Four Great Virtues: Bravery, Wisdom, Love, and Friendship, symbolized by Fire, Heaven, Earth, and Water.

* If your opponent strikes with fire, counter with water, becoming completely fluid and free-flowing. Water, by its nature, never collides with or breaks against anything. On the contrary, it swallows up any attack harmlessly.

* The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.

osensei02.gif (pic from aikidofaq) more?

The time is now!
Make straight the bonds that link
Heaven, Fire, Water and Earth
Let me stand as your guide.

It’s a small world after all 🙂


2 responses to “Know yourself, the four classical elements & Aikido

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