Aikido has its origins in prewar Japan, where it was synthesized by Morehei Ueshiba O-Sensei (the Founder) from several styles of aiki-jujitsu (unarmed grappling), sword- and spear-fighting. These martial disciplines were forged into a science of controlling attackers’ strength, momentum, and balance. Aikido practice is usually characterized by smooth, effortless, flowing movements that often end with a pin, throw, or joint lock.
More importantly, the purpose of Aikido training is for non-religious spiritual and personal development. Aikido trains people who have to deal with everyday pressures and threats, not soldiers, prize fighters, or killing machines. Aikido is intended to help create people who are simultaneously powerful yet peaceful, neither violent nor fearful.
Traditional Aikido is also distinguished by:
- A constructive, welcoming environment practiced by women and men
- A focus on realism – unfair odds and unplanned situations
- Effective techniques not based on strength, size, speed, or youth
- No competitions, contests or trophies – please leave your ego at the door
- Practice with and against training weapons such as bokken (wooden sword), jo (staff), and tanto (knife)
- A constructive training environment free from injuries
- The ability to effectively end conflicts without violence, but the strength to use controlled force if necessary
- A focus on strategy, movement, and human reaction that is complementary to other martial styles and previous martial art experience