Aikido is a Japanese martial art that was developed during the first half of the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), often referred to as O'Sensei. Aikido has practical and effective defense movements taken from sword and spear fighting, jujitsu, aikijujitsu, and other more esoteric forms of martial arts. It is a discipline of coordinations, a way of strengthening the mind and body, of fusing the individual's physical and mental power so that he or she will emerge as a more fully integrated human being. The word Aikido translates to do (the path), ai (blending or harmonizing), ki (energy).
Aikido in its practical application is an art of self-defense, entirely reflexive and related ethically to defense against an unprovoked attack. There is no attack in aikido. Techniques are designed to immobilize but not leave serious and lasting injury.
Our training tradition emphasizes basic technique as the foundation of the art, as nothing can be done well without having a good foundation. There is a constant reference to hara, or center, (ie. center of gravity) as the point of concentration. There is the predominance of references to ki (inner energy), not strength, as the form of energy to be used. There is an emphasis of circular movement in the application of techniques and the complete relaxation of the practitioner.
The use of the bokken (wooden sword) and the jo (short staff) are employed to strengthen the body and help teach awareness, extension, and relaxation.
Aikido can be practiced by people of all ages. One of the primary benefits is improved general health, with emphasis on respiration and circulation, in addition to added flexibility. With the circular movements and smooth extension of power, a high degree of coordination is the main result, free from any form of physical or mental rigidity.
The art has attracted athletes of all kinds who have found it to be an effective method of improving their coordination, timing, and general physical health. Any physical activity can improve one's health, but many forms of exercise can become boring and eventually be reduced to a tiresome routine. The possibilities of Aikido are almost endless. An Aikidoist can practice for a lifetime and still feel that he or she hasn't learned everything that Aikido has to offer.
"Budo is not a means of felling the opponent by force or by lethal weapons. Neither is it intended to lead the world to destruction by arms and other illegitimate means.
True Budo calls for bringing the inner energy of the universe in order, protecting the peace of the world, as well as preserving, everything in nature in its right form.
If your opponent tries to pull you, let him pull. Don't pull against him; pull in unison with him. Aikido does not rely on weapons or brute force to succeed; instead we put ourselves in tune with the universe, maintain peace in our own realms, nurture life, and prevent death and destruction. The true meaning of the term 'samurai' is one who serves and adheres to the power of love. "
-- Morihei Ueshiba, O' Sensei, founder of Aikido