Aikido is a martial art renowned for its focus on using the opponent’s strength and momentum against them. Although it is one of the many martial arts that developed from Ju Jutsu, it is also said to have origins in Japanese sword combat. Aikido is regarded as an internal martial art technique based on the concepts of harmony and balance. Aikido practitioners employ stance and movement techniques to fully neutralize their opponent’s assaults, leaving them with no choice but to fall or be tossed to the ground. The technique involves neutralizing your opponent with minimal effort and learning how to defend yourself against an attacker. Through controlled practice drills, Aikido also focuses on self-improvement, self-awareness, and physical fitness.
Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, who also founded the Aikikai Foundation and the World Aikido Association. Although the term “Aiki” does not frequently appear outside of the context of Japanese martial arts, a close examination of its etymology reveals that it is a composite word created from two Japanese letters, ai and ki. “Ai,” the initial character, denotes harmony or unity while “Ki” signifies spirit or energy. “Do” is a popular Japanese word that signifies a way or path. As a result, “Aikido” can be interpreted as a method of uniting forces or energy. This definition is supported by the martial art’s practice, which entails blending with your assailant’s movement, comprehending their rhythm and intent, and choosing the most effective way to subdue and neutralize their actions with the least amount of effort.
Origin of the Art
Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba between the late 1920s and the early 1930s. Ueshiba had previously learned a variety of martial arts styles under various instructors, including Daito-Ryu, Shin’yo-Ryu, Shingan-Ryu, and even Judo (all distinct subsets of Ju Jutsu). As a result, Ueshiba’s collection of martial arts skills led to the creation of Aikido. However, it is noteworthy that the Daito Ryu style had the most impact on the Aikido martial art. Ueshiba incorporated some other techniques, such as empty-handed throwing and joint locking techniques. He also introduced the use of weapons like spears into the training, which is why swordsmanship is seen as a significant part of the Aikido technique today.
In the early days of the development of Aikido, Ueshiba referred to his martial art technique as “Aiki Budo” before it later took on the name “Aikido,” by which it is known to date. While it is quite difficult to pinpoint the exact moment or person that renamed it Aikido, one certain fact is that Aikido was regarded as the official name of the art by the Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society (GJMVS) in 1942. The GJMVS was an organization sponsored by the Japanese government at that time to reorganize and centralize the various martial arts practiced in Japan.
Aikido started to diversify into several styles and techniques as the years went by. Most of these variants were created by Ueshiba’s students, similar to what happens in most martial arts styles. Before Ueshiba’s passing, multiple Aikido variations had already developed and been formalized. However, out of the three main variations that emerged at the time, Shokodan Aikido seemed to stir up some controversy because its rules were deemed to go against the philosophy and spirit of Aikido. After Ueshiba’s passing in 1969, a few additional styles also developed. An example is the Shin shin Toitsu Aikido, which Tohei established after he left the Aikikai foundation upon a disagreement he had with the then-head of the foundation, who was Ueshiba’s son. Tohei formed his own organization, which he named the Ki society.
By 1951, Aikido made its foray outside Japan’s borders into other parts of the world for the first time when Minoru Mochizuki traveled to France and showed the techniques to Judo students. Since then, Aikido art has expanded worldwide and is now practiced in over 140 countries. However, the art does not command the same global popularity as the UFC and other MMA events. This is because its philosophy opposes the use of brute force, which most people across the globe find intriguing today.
Principles and Philosophy of Aikido
The main idea of Ueshiba’s philosophy was that one should overcome rather than indulge in violence or aggressiveness. Compassion is emphasized in Aikido, especially in the face of people who desire to hurt others. This concept is clear in the art since it aims to deflect and redirect an attack so that neither the recipient nor the attacker suffers injury. The triangle concept of Aikido dictates that you must approach, seize control, then move to deflect your opponent’s blow. However, some Aikido varieties slightly stray from this principle and philosophy today.
Training and Techniques
Aikido involves a lot of throws and pins. As a result, beginners are taught how to fall or roll without harming themselves. Although the main goal of the Aikido technique is to defend and neutralize an attack, students must first understand the principles of attack to defend effectively, like in many other martial art forms. Attacking techniques in Aikido mostly entail strikes in the form of sword slices because most empty hand techniques are derived from the conventional sword or spear movements. Grabs are also included among attacking styles from time to time. Due to the danger of kick falls, kicks are only used in higher-level variations, which is why high kicks, in particular, are rarely used in Aikido combat.
After learning the basic techniques, students move on to practice defense against a variety of opponents. This is a crucial component of Aikido as the ability to handle multiple opponents is always highly considered when moving to a higher rank. Strength training is less of a focus in aikido training; however, Aikido emphasizes increased physical fitness, general muscular growth, precise joint mobility, flexibility, balance, and endurance.
Aikido is regarded as an internal martial technique based on the concepts of harmony, balance, and compassion, with the primary goal of neutralizing enemy attacks as harmlessly as possible. Today, this art has spread over the world and is now performed in over 140 nations.