What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art founded in the late 1930s by Morihei Ueshiba, who is referred to even by those who do not study aikido as O’Sensei, which means “Great Teacher.” O’Sensei studied many martial arts in his youth, including sumo wrestling, spear and bayonet arts, arts using a wooden staff, sword arts, and the ancient grappling art of ju-jitsu. As he grew older, he realized that the purpose of martial arts should not be to harm other people, but to defend oneself while preserving the attacker, bettering oneself in the process. Thus, O’Sensei combined the martial arts he had studied into aikido, which means “The Way of Harmony.”

Aikido and Self Defense

Aikido is an extremely effective form of self defense because its hand to hand technical roots are based on the sword cutting  and pinning motions that are found in ken jujitsu and jujitsu arts respectively.  The other aspects that support the effectiveness of Aikido are its circular movements and stance from which the practitioner operates.  Aikido students are trained to defend themselves from an attacker’s hostile energy by using the aforementioned motions and methods in order subdue an opponent with locks, pins and/or throws.

The techniques used in aikido are designed to allow the practitioner to extract themselves from a hostile situation in order to prevent the escalation of the fight.  Aikido techniques are scalable therefore; it offers the practitioners options that can be used to best subdue an opponent while still respecting the integrity of their opponent’s well being.

What also makes Aikido an effective form of self defense is that it does not rely solely on the strength and agility of the practitioner.  Aikido is a martial art that adapts to one’s physical condition which is why a top quality athlete or someone with a physical limitation can become an effective practitioner of Aikido.

Unlike other forms of martial art, Aikido does not offer opportunities for point scoring, contact competitions or other kinds of arena displays.

Aikido is physical conditioning

Because you move at your own pace and challenge yourself on many physical levels make an Aikido class a great physical fitness workout.  The Aikido exercises and warm-ups can help to improve core strength and joint flexibility.  Interval training methodologies make it a superior cardiovascular activity that burns fat. Aikido is a terrific way to get in shape, lose weight and reduce stress.

Aikido is personal and spiritual growth  

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 one’s self as well as human nature. Keep one point, relax completely, weight underside and extend ki are the four basic principles of Aikido that many practitioners have adapted as tools to dealing with various life situations in order to create positive outcomes which may have otherwise been stressful and counterproductive.  The warrior spirit that Aikido teaches is to stop the battle before it escalate has supported many students of  Aikido to seek right livelihood and natural harmony.