Aikido (Japanese: 合 気 道) is a martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of the martial arts training he had received previously, his personal philosophy and his religious beliefs. The most common translation of the concept of Aikido is the "Way of Harmonious Energy" or the "Way of the Peaceful Spirit".
Linguistically speaking, the word "Aikido" is composed of three kanji characters:
•合 – Ai – Union, combination, unity, harmony.
•気 – Ki – Spirit, energy, mood, morale.
•道 – Dō – The way, the path.
Ueshiba's purpose was to create a martial art that its practitioners would be able to use not only to protect their selves but also their from harm and violence.
The movements of Aikido are executed through the blending with the opponent's motion and momentum, seeking to deflect rather than block the incoming attack. This process requires only minimal physical strength as the Aikidoka (the Aikido practitioner) in essence leads the opponent's momentum using entering and turning movements. The application of a technique is usually concluded using either some type of throw or by "pinning", i.e. immobilizing the opponent usually by locking one or more limbs into such a position that it is either very difficult () or very painful to escape.
A brief history of Aikido
Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba (14/12/1883 - 26/4/1969), who is called by Aikido practitioners O'Sensei (Great Teacher). Ueshiba visualized Aikido not only as a synthesis of his extensive martial arts training, but as an expression of his personal philosophy aiming towards global peace and reconciliation.
Ueshiba developed Aikido mainly during the 1920s and the early 1930s as a combination of other martial arts he had already trained in. Aikido is mainly based on Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu, which Ueshiba studied under the instruction of Takeda Sokaku, who revived the art. Ueshiba also trained in Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū (an formerly popular form of jujitsu), Gotōha Yagyū Shingan-ryū (a traditional martial art with emphasis on weapons training), as well as judo. As a result of Ueshiba's multidisciplinary training in martial arts, apart from unarmed techniques Aikido also involves many techniques and with the use of the knife, the short staff and the sword, either in the form of weapons training or in the form of armed opponent disarmament techniques.
Apart from the various martial arts he studied, Ueshiba also received many religious and philosophical influences that greatly affected his approach towards martial arts. The most important of these influences was that of Onisaburo Deguchi, who founded the neosintoistic religious movement Ōmoto-kyō. One of the basic characteristics of this movement is the on achieving the state of Utopia during one's lifetime. This approach influenced Ueshiba and his approach towards martial arts deeply, and turned him towards a philosophy of love and compassion towards others, even those who seek to harm their fellow human beings. Aikido emphasizes this philosophy by stressing the need for perfection of one's martial ability, so that the practitioner has the ability not only to receive an attack without suffering any harm, but also to deflect and neutralize his opponent without harming him.
“Move like a beam of light, Fly like lightning, Strike like thunder, Whirl in circles around a stable center.”
Training in Aikido is divided into two basic parts: body techniques (tai jitsu) and weapons training.
Body techniques include body positioning, unarmed techniques, joint and limb locks, throws, rolling and falling when thrown, as well as kneeling techniques.
Weapons training involves performed with a bokken (wooden replica of the sword), the (short staff) and the (tanto). Training with the use of weapons involves individual , paired , and disarming techniques.
Aikido is not a competitive martial art and there are no contests or sparring sessions. The basic reasoning behind this is that, according to O'Sensei, competition does not allow for the development of mature characters. The purpose of Aikido is to improve one's self and character through continuous , introspection and self-improvement. It is an art for both the mind and the body.
Aikido techniques are easy to practice and apply irrespective of one's physical constitution, stamina, gender and age. To train in Aikido is to train to become physically and mentally healthy. Bodily health comes through regular and the improvement of one's physical condition. Mental health comes through the concentration and the calmness that are necessary in order to be able to introspect and improve one's technique. By training in Aikido, people learn how to develop harmonious social interaction and relations.
Aikido and children.
“Always practice the Art of Peace in a vibrant and joyful manner”
Aikido is very well suited for children irrespective of their age. Practice is always conducted at a level suitable in complexity according to the age of the child, while teaching is conducted in a pleasant environment and often takes the form of group games and activities. Because Aikido is not a competitive martial art and not a combat sport, the child can develop elements such as coordination, concentration and self-control without experiencing competitive tendencies towards other children. Also, the social interaction in a friendly environment allows the child to develop its social skills and interact with other children of its age in a learning environment