Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba (O-Sensei) in the early 20th century, as a synthesis and breakthrough out of the traditional jitsus of empty hand, sword and stick technique. O'Sensei's Aikido preserves the spirit of traditional budo in its most creative, positive spirit.
Composed of three Japanese characters: Ai, meaning harmony; Ki, spirit or energy; and Do, the path or the way. Aikido: “The Way of Unifying Energy”.
The Aikidoist trains to apply various wrist locks, arm pins or unbalancing throws to neutralize and control and subdue attackers without needing to inflict serious injury. Such practice is done in tandem with learning the art of falling, or “ukemi”, which trains the body and mind to receive techniques in a safe manner.
Since Aikido is not a sport there are no competitive tournaments. Everyone enthusiastically helps in each individual’s growth.
As a traditional Japanese budo, Aikido maintains the qualities of martial spirit, effective technique and intense training.
Aikido’s cultivates a spirit of protection. It aligns the body, releasing power from deeper and deeper sources, opening and connecting the channels of internal and external energy...
Video by Ruth Peyser, 6 Dan, Shidoin. © 2015 Ruth Peyser. By permission only.
Aikido as self-defense (Budo)
Aikido is an extremely effective means of self-defense. Its hand-to-hand technical roots lie in the cutting motion of the sword (kenjitsu) and the locking motions of ju-jitsu.
A stable, triangular structure is established. With circular movements, an Aikido practitioner blends and harmonizes with an attack (musubi), redirects the flow of the oncoming force, and neutralizes it with a projection (throw) or an immobilization (lock). Its defensive techniques are based in offensive theory, so a more aggressive approach to a dangerous situation is always an option.
The Principles of Aikido
Relaxation in movement,
Harmonizing with the surroundings,
Unobstructed expansion of energy
These principles are demonstrated in every movement and learned concretely in the experience of doing. The excitement of discovery is part of everyday practice.
Aikido is fun and incredibly engrossing. The movements develop every muscle in a balance of toning, stretching and strengthening. Each individual defines their own practice. Training can be gentle and gradual or an intense aerobic workout.
Aikido as a physical fitness system
An Aikido class is a great workout. You move at your own pace and challenge yourself on many physical levels. Its circular, flowing movements are fun and easy to perform, improving core strength and joint flexibility. Interval training methodology make it a superior cardiovascular activity that burns fat without sacrificing muscle and uses the muscular and skeletal systems in a natural and logical way. Both solo and partner exercises are performed in each class. Aikido is a terrific way to get in shape, lose weight and reduce stress.
Aikido for personal and spiritual growth (Bushin)
Most long-term practitioners (and many beginners as well) use the principles of Aikido for personal growth and spiritual development. The practical and powerful self-defense techniques serve as a springboard for a deeper understanding of human nature.
"Bushin" is a Japanese term that translates as "the spirit-mind of stopping the sword." The first part of the phrase, "Bu", means "a way to put an end to contentious swords," and the second part, "shin," means "the mind and spirit which are one". While warrior arts (Budo) of the past have translated "Bushin" as "warrior spirit," the essence of the phrase has evolved away from a mere warrior into a person seeking a Method of Natural Harmony and Right Livelihood. The method of Aikido promotes this concept as a primary philosophy.
In the context of Aikido, Ueshiba Sensei called this condition "Takemusu Aiki." This is when the practitioner transcends technique and moves into pure awareness. In meditation arts this enlightened state is called "satori" (Japanese) or "rigpa" (Tibetan). It is the ultimate goal of Aikido practice.