Over the years I have trained with quite a few teachers in various forms: Goju-Ryu, Shotokan, Shorin-Ryu, Kyokushin, Wado-Ryu Karate styles along with Aikido, as well as Jojutsu. While these particular arts take different paths up the same mountain, they are more similar than different. The teaching methodology retains more idiosyncrasies than do the physical applications.

No matter what you study, a punch is a punch, a throw is a throw. Call it what you want, its all the same under the surface. The idea of not getting hurt while deflecting an aggressor's violence.

I heard an intersting phrase recently: Shenzen-Aiki-Tendo, and decided I should research this a bit. What I found is this name has multiple meanings. On a purely secular level it means that when attacked, blend with the enemy and use the Divine techniques passed down from the ages to keep one from harm. On a more esoteric level is means before the hostility becomes violent, get to know or understand the attacker's true intentions and using only that technique necessary to protect oneself and others (including the attacker) from debilitating injury. This is also known as: "The Way of Heaven".

Shenzen Aiki Tendo uses different kanji for Aiki than Aikido, that is because the practice of Shenzen Aiki Tendo is not limited to being a particular martial art, but rather is an ideal for living one's life. (or that we could put these ideals into practice each and every moment of the day)

By combining all Japanese arts into one, we have unlimited access to the means and methods of generations of Samurai and Masters at our disposal. Shenzen Aiki Tendo is viewed differently depending on one's point or frame of reference. Karate students might say "they punch and kick like us" while aikidoka will be heard exclaiming "Their throws are different than ours, and they don't always allow the attacker to roll away." They also might notice that only a fraction of the paired practice after white belt level deals with responses to wrist grabs. Kendo or Iaido students might watch a class on kenjutsu and notice that real weapons work adds a level of realism unavaiable in Kendo, or Iaido. Jujutsu practitioners will add "It looks easy when they do it".

So we train hard/regularly and become very comfortable with the physical manifestation of Shenzen Aiki Waza. But... to put the deeper philosophies into everyday practice is much harder. We can do this each time someone cuts us off on the road, or insults us at the financial aid office. We can deal with inept or irate people and address it calmly, listening to their point of view first and then offering as response that does not allow them to continue their aggression. I personally allow injustices to take up way to much of my waking moments. I brood, get angry, mistrustful, resentful. I complain, and whine to anyone who will listen. But I also try to make it through an entire day without complaining about anything or anyone. I don't often make it multiple days in a row. But one day, God willing, it will become the norm and not the exception.

Here's a list I found on the various explanations. Some of these might go against your personal beliefs, some might resonate. Treat this as mere dictionary entries to a concept that is more complex than just one meaning.

The spirituality of: Shenzen-Aiki-Tendo no Kenkyukai (戦前遭気天道の研究会)

  • To transcend the spiritual side of traditional Aiki as it applies to personal character development and bio-spiritual (Ki) manifestation, as taught by Sarutahiko-no-O-Kami. (The deity of Aiki). To foster a greater understanding of the true and original Tendo.
  • To leave behind the desire to be better than others. You must allow yourself to guide them to be better then themselves. Your Goshin waza must be the vehicle for their redemption and subsequent personal resurrection from evil desire.
  • To never run away from manifest evil. To battle social injustice whenever it raises its ugly head. To teach the evil-quelling influence of Shenzen Aiki Tendo.
  • To be a mirror, sword and jewel for others. To reflect their true spirit, their true intentions, and imminent ramifications. In this way they can clearly see their true heart, and shy away from further action. To be the sword that cuts out the ego, that severs social injustice. This is the sword that cuts away the veil that hides man’s 108 delusions. Be as a jewel to the downtrodden. Bring a sparkling hope for righteousness to the oppressed.
  • To Kill the Buddha. Kill the Arhat, Kill the Lohan, Kill the son of God, so that he may rise again, Worship not Muhammad but the God that sent him. Worship correctly. Follow not the messenger, rather, follow the message. Lao Tsu, Moses, Kung Fu Tsi, Siddhartha, Ta Mo, Muhammad, Jesus, even Thomas - All great men, with words to ponder. In all words, there is a bit of wisdom if we care to listen. In all religious books written by man, there are hidden agendas, traps for the gullible, these we should be aware of. Worship that which you know, not that which you have been taught by man.
  • To research and understand the commonalities within Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shinto, and Christianity, Islam and Hinduism, Judaism, Gnosism, Paganism, and apply their goodness and right thoughts and actions to our everyday lives. The sacred universal truths to right living and happiness lay in the commonalities found in the world’s religions. The 108 evil passions of man, unfortunately, also can be found in man’s religions. Eliminate man’s agenda and only the true way remains.
  • Senzen-Aiki-Tendo is the good and righteous part of the whole. The 108 evil passions of man are the other half of the In-Yo. The physical manifestation of Senzen Aiki is the projection of all that is good and harmonious in the world. Whenever evil raises its ugly head, the Tenshi will not hesitate to vanquish the evil with good.