What is Aikido

Aikido is a 'pure' Japanese martial art. It is a fairly modern art but its roots go back over a thousand years.

The warrior tradition of Japan gave rise to many fighting systems and weapons, which has, ironically, given rise to a path of harmony and love enriched in aikido. Study of aikido covers a number of areas, chiefly the body art, weapons training and meditation. The form of practice with a partner includes throws, locks, take-downs and counter and evasion techniques. Practice is generally soft but can be varied and quite vigorous.

The emphasis on all practice is always harmonious, blending and controlled, with no competition or aggression. Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. The aikidoka (aikido practitioner) 'leads' the attacker's momentum using entering and turning movements.

The word aikido is made up of three Japanese characters:

AI – harmony,
KI – spirit, mind, or universal energy,
DO – the Way

Developed by Morihei Ueshiba (O'Sensei) as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the Way of harmonious spirit." Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

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Morihei Ueshiba 1883–1969 Founder of Aikido - From 1935 he lived in the countryside where he founded a dojo and the Aiki Shrine. During World War 2 O'Sensei, the Founder, kept apart from the mainstream of Japanese politics and the centralisation of martial arts. In the years after the war Aikido began to spread from Japan around the world. The first major public demonstration of Aikido in Japan was held in 1960. O'Sensei was happy for his students to travel abroad to teach as he saw Aikido as a bridge to peace and harmony for all.

A master of various traditional Japanese martial arts, particularly Daito Ryu Aiki Jutsu, Ueshiba later developed a form which was originally called Ueshiba Aiki Jutsu. Largely influenced by his deep understanding of martial arts and their philosophy he renamed his teaching Aikido, meaning that he saw it as a complete 'way' of life and not simply another style or school. As well as a skilled and dedicated martial artist and teacher, the Founder was a deeply religious man and a practical farmer.

These characteristics undoubtedly influenced the main tenet of Aikido which can be summarised as "the unification of the fundamental creative principle, ki, permeating the universe, and the individual ki, inseparable from breath-power, of each person". ("The Spirit of Aikido", by Kisshomaru Ueshiba, page 15)