What is Aikido?

“When an opponent comes forward, move in and greet him; if he wants to pull back, send him on his way.” O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) from classical martial arts including judo, kendo and jujutsu. Originally called aiki-budō, the name was changed to Aikido by O-Sensei to better reflect the focus of the art; the kanji can be translated as “the Way of harmonious spirit.” Unlike many martial arts, strikes are not the focus of Aikido. Rather than opposing a force head on, much like billiard balls clashing, Aikido uses flowing, wavelike motions to blend, redirect and control an attack.

It is important to note that Aikido is not merely the study of physical techniques but also stresses harmony with one’s environment and self. Aikido is meant to teach students how to harmonize both on and off the dojo training mat. Aikido is not a sport; there are no tournaments.

Rather, students learn through practice with each other learning wristlocks, throws and pins. This cooperative training results in the uke, the one receiving the attack, taking ukemi or a fall while the other student practices the technique. Ukemi teaches students how to receive powerful techniques in a safe manner and enables students of Aikido to practice for their natural lifespan. Students also practice with weapons to enhance their technique or, in the case of knives and guns, to learn how to protect themselves from armed attackers.

Today, Aikido is practiced all over the world in order to further O-Sensei’s desire for universal peace.

O-Sensei demonstrating his art.

O-Sensei demonstrating his art.

Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished. Aikido is invincible because it contends with nothing.”  O-Sensei