Introduction

Aikido stresses a nonviolent, noncompetitive alternative to traditional fighting techniques. Aikido is effective, realistic and adaptable. The same principles practiced on the mat are easily translated to the world at large when handling a non-physical conflict. Students soon discover that Aikido nurtures the development of a calm mind, a coordinated body and an enhanced sense of self esteem. Each person’s experience of Aikido is different, depending upon what they seek to learn from their practice. The basic techniques may be picked up in a short time. The principles behind the techniques can sustain years of interesting study. An Aikidoka’s practice continually grows more fluid, subtle and powerful.

Although aikido is a relatively recent innovation within the world of martial arts, it is heir to a rich cultural and philosophical background. Aikido was created in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba. Before creating Aikido, Ueshiba trained extensively in several varieties of Jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting. Ueshiba also immersed himself in religious studies and developed an ideology devoted to universal social and political harmony. Incorporating these principles into his martial art, Ueshiba developed many aspects of aikido in concert with his philosophical ideology. Aikido is not primarily a system of combat, but rather a means of self-cultivation and improvement.

Aikido has no tournaments, competitions, contests, or “sparring.” Instead, all Aikido techniques are learned cooperatively at a pace commensurate with the abilities of each trainee. According to the founder, the goal of Aikido is not the defeat of others, but the defeat of the negative characteristics that inhabit one’s own mind and inhibit its functioning. At the same time, the potential of Aikido as a means of self-defense should not be ignored. One reason for the prohibition of competition in Aikido is that many Aikido techniques would have to be excluded because of their potential to cause serious injury. By training cooperatively, even the most effective techniques can be practiced without substantial risk.

It must be emphasized that there are no shortcuts to proficiency in Aikido (or in any other difficult skill, for that matter). Consequently, attaining proficiency in Aikido is a matter of sustained and dedicated training. No one becomes an expert in just a few months or years.