What is Aikido?.Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba (known as O Sensei, see photo) in Japan between about 1920 and 1940. The name "Aikido", meaning "way of harmony with inner energy" was given to the art by him in 1942.
Master Ueshiba (pronounced "oo-eh-shiba") was born in 1883 in a Japan which had not fully emerged into the modern world and where many of the martial arts were still taught by masters in the old tradition. In his early manhood he mastered several martial arts including swordsmanship and various forms of unarmed self defence. At the same time he developed into a deeply religious person and envisaged a new system of 'budo' (lit: the way of the warrior) which would provide a basis for both physical and spiritual development. This he named 'Aikido': the way (do) of harmonising (ai) the spirit (ki). By 'ki' is meant the creative life-spirit of the universe: one's own life-energy.
"True budo is the way of great harmony and great love for all beings" wrote Ueshiba. That he meant Aikido to be much more than a method of self-defence is conveyed in his words: "I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind".
The principles of Aikido.Aikido is a weaponless system designed soley for self-defence. It is essentially non-violent and, as conceived by its creator, non-competitive. Force is never opposed by force. By means of circular movement an attacker's force is diverted and turned back upon him. A variety of techniques may be applied to the attacker's arm joints; but although these can be extremely painful and induce immediate submission, they are not aimed at causing injury. Thus it is perhaps the most subtle and graceful of the various martial arts. Since Aikido techniques do not call for physical strength or aggressive spirit, it is practised by people off all ages or physical make-up, by women just as well as by men.
The benefits of Aikido PracticeSince Aikido is based on full and natural body movement, it exercises every limb and joint of the body. Flexibility, muscle tone, coordination and quick reactions are all developed. It does not demand unnatural body-building preparation, but is an absorbing way to keep fit along natural lines and within a framework of aesthetic movement.
As we get older we lose the flexibility of out joints at an alarming rate. Aikido is an excellent way of restoring and preserving a supple healthy body. Moreover, there should be enough expenditure of energy in an Aikido practice to stimulate the heart and give it plenty of exercise.
Aikido is essentially a method of self-defence so that through regular practice one will aquire a sound basis of agile movement and speed of reaction which should prove useful if the occasion ever demanded it in real life.
In common with other Oriental philosophies (and indeed with modern science) Aikido teaches that there is no real separation between that which is body and that which is mind. In subjecting our bodies to the precise dicipline of Aikido we may eventually influence our minds for the good: creating an inner calm and balance that may be carried into our daily lives, helping us to become better and more effective people.
The Aikikai Foundation.Founded in 1948 for the purpose of spreading the teaching of the Founder throughout the world, the Aikikai Foundation, with its headquarters at Hombu Dojo, Tokyo, is the guiding body of orthodox Aikido. It is represented in some fifty countries. The director of the Foundation is referred-to as 'Doshu' (Master of the Way) and the current doshu is the grandson of Morihei Ueshiba, Moriteru Ueshiba.
Copyright (c) 2004, British Aikido Federation.