What is Aikido?
Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art the modern form of which was founded in 1925 by Master Morihei Ueshiba (O'Sensei). The techniques that form the basis of modern Aikido are derived from centuries old tactics developed by Samurai warriors. It has evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts, but is more than just a science of tactics and self-defense; it is a discipline for perfecting the spirit. The Japanese word Ai-ki-do consists of three Kanji characters which can be translated as "the way of unity with the fundamental force of the universe". Aikido practitioners train to integrate their body, mind and spirit through harmonious practice of basic principles. Aikido teaches us to be aware of our surroundings and to use our bodies to move with physical confrontation instead of against it.
Aikido is a true Budo or "Martial Way". The essence of all Aikido technique is the use of total body movements to create spherical motion around a stable, energized center. Even when a technique appears to be using only one part of the body, close observation reveals the Aikidoist's movements are, in fact, whole body movements.
Aikido is a purely defensive martial art. Rather than meeting violence with reciprocal violence, the Aikidoist learns to evade and redirect the power of the attack, resulting in the attacker being unbalanced and either projected (thrown) or immobilized. The results are achieved through precise use of leverage, inertia, gravity, and the action of centrifugal and centripetal forces. Inevitably, it is the attacker's own force and momentum that neutralize his aggression. Because of this principle of "active non-resistance", Aikido can be effectively performed even against larger, stronger attackers. At the higher levels of the art, it is equally effective against multiple attackers.
Aikido is not a sport or a game. There are no tournaments or competitions. Rather, practice is conducted in a spirit of mutual respect and co-operation. Aikido has been proven to be an effective means of self defense and its' techniques form the basis of many police "control and restraint" tactics. It is also distinguished by a highly developed moral code which seeks to protect the assailant while simultaneously neutralizing his will and ability to attack. Beyond being merely a form of self protection, Aikido is a method of personal development that teaches the practitioner balance and character, which enhance all aspects of daily life.
Most practice is done with a partner. Each works at his or her own level of ability, alternating as Uke (the attacker), and Nage (the one who receives the attack). Both roles are stressed as each contributes skills that enhance overall sensitivity and control. Practice is non-competitive with partners working in a cooperative manner to encourage the physical, mental and spiritual growth of each other.