Aikido is a system of control and restraint that utilises techniques that range from throws and wrist locks to immobilisations and projections in order to subdue an attacker.
Aikido is a relatively new martial art and it wasn’t until 1942 that the founder, Morihei Ueshiba finally decided on the name of Aikido. Loosely translated Aikido means “The way of harmony”.
We train to deal with altercations by blending with the attack and redirecting it to achieve a positive outcome utilising the energy of the opponent rather than our own strength. This unique feature of Aikido means it can be practiced across all age groups from the very young to the very old. Aikido is practiced extensively around the world and women tend to excel at it.
Aikido is a “way” (do), and serious Aikidoka (person who studies Aikido) will extend its principles into their everyday lives. They take the lessons in harmony and blending they learn in the dojo and apply these to their interactions with individuals and situations they come across on a daily basis. Aikido is very much a means to develop and refine the character. It teaches us how to deal with the stresses of life whilst at the same time creating an enhanced feeling of well being.
Kihon (basics) is very important to all good martial artists. This is especially true for traditional martial arts and kihon provides us with the strong foundation to build effective Aikido technique.
Many good Aikido schools train extensively with the bokken (wooden sword). Training with the sword can be invaluable to the Aikidoka, because although Aikido is a modern martial art, it originates from fighting systems that can be traced back through many hundreds of years in the history of Japan. Movements, perfected through the lineage of various samurai schools teach us correct tai sabaki (body movement) and improve our posture. Training in the “correct” use of the sword helps put us in the right position to execute the empty-handed techniques that make up the Aikido curriculum.
Aikido techniques are generally performed whilst standing but suwari waza (techniques performed whilst kneeling) is an integral part of training in all the best Aikido schools. The lords who ruled during the feudal periods in Japan expected their subjects to remain on their knees whilst in their presence. This is one of the factors that gave rise to the development of shikko (walking on the knees), so the combat techniques that were performed standing were also perfected whilst kneeling. Although it would seem odd for us, especially in the West, to move around on our knees nowadays, suwari waza and shikko is still practiced today in the dojo and this helps to build excellent Aikido technique and develop core strength.
Aikido is a journey that can take many years to master. Over time regular practice and repetition develops good habits and teaches the student to remain calm and so foster an instinctive and spontaneous reaction in any given situation.