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What Is Aikido?




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What Is Aikido?

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Aikido, “the way of harmony with spirit (or energy)”, is a Japanese martial art developed by a man named Morihei Ueshiba. Morihei, often referred to as O’Sensei, meaning Great Teacher, spent most of his life training and teaching martial arts, attaining proficiency in a number of different styles. By refining the techniques and knowledge he had gathered throughout his life and joining it with a vision that the ultimate goal of a martial artist should be to strive for peace and harmony, he created a new martial art. Drawing on the martial teachings passed down through the generations from the samurai era, Aikido retains the martial effectiveness of the older Jujutsu styles upon which it is based, yet adds another dimension to the techniques that completely changes how they are performed and more importantly, why they are performed.

At its heart, Aikido is based on the ideal of resolving conflict using non-violent means. To achieve this end, the movements of Aikido are designed to allow you to place yourself in a safe position where you can blend with an incoming attack and redirect or dissipate the energy. It is this ability to blend with an attacker’s energy that make Aikido a distinctive and effective martial art.

On the surface, it appears that Aikido is just a collection of different techniques and physical movements, that once learnt by rote, might make an effective Aikido martial artist, capable of defending themselves. When you look deeper though, you can see that Aikido is much more than just a physical art, based on set physical movements to be used for “self defence”. It is a way of focusing on, and improving, yourself, of coordinating your mind, body and spirit to act as one, of interacting with the world in harmony.

“Victory over oneself is the primary goal of our training. We focus on the spirit rather than the form, the kernel rather than the shell”
Morihei Ueshiba, The Art of Peace, translated by John Stevens.

It is this deeper understanding of Aikido, and of it's principles, that makes an effective Aikidoka, able to allow the appropriate response to a situation to grow naturally. Without understanding the principles that underlie technique, you are never really practicing Aikido.

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