is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei
Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great
Teacher'). On a purely physical level it is an art involving
some throws and joint locks that are derived from Jujitsu and
some throws and other techniques derived from Kenjutsu. Aikido
focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on
using their own energy to gain control of them or to throw them
away from you. It is a self-defense system that utilizes twisting
and throwing techniques and in its aim of turning an attacker's
strength and momentum against himself. Pressure on vital nerve
centres is also used. Aikido was developed to subdue, rather
than maim or kill as in Karate, but many of its movements can
nevertheless be deadly. Aikido especially emphasizes the importance
of achieving complete mental calm and control of one's own body
to master an opponent's attack.It is not a static art, but places
great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement.
The basic skills of aikido come originated in Japan in about
the 14th century. In the early 20th century they were systematized
in their modern form through the work of the Japanese DaiToRyu
Yawara (AiKi JuJitsu) expert Morei Ueshiba. There are no offensive
moves in aikido. As taught by Ueshiba, it was so purely defensive
an art that no direct contest between practitioners was possible.
On the technical side, Aikido is rooted in several styles of
jujitsu (from which modern judo is also derived), in particular
daitoryu-(aiki)jujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting
arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that Aikido takes
the joint locks and throws from jujitsu and combines them with
the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we
must also realize that many Aikido techniques are the result
of Master Ueshiba's own innovation.
On the religious side, Ueshiba was a devotee of one of Japan's
so-called "new religions," Omotokyo. Omotokyo was
(and is) part neo-shintoism, and part socio-political idealism.
One goal of omotokyo has been the unification of all humanity
in a single "heavenly kingdom on earth" where all
religions would be united under the banner of omotokyo. It is
impossible sufficiently to understand many of O Sensei's writings
and sayings without keeping the influence of Omotokyo firmly
Despite what many people think or claim, there is no unified
philosophy of Aikido. What there is, instead, is a disorganized
and only partially coherent collection of religious, ethical,
and metaphysical beliefs which are only more or less shared
by Aikidoists, and which are either transmitted by word of mouth
or found in scattered publications about Aikido.
Some examples: "Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat
enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human
beings one family." "The essence of Aikido is the
cultivation of ki [a vital force, internal power, mental/spiritual
energy]." "The secret of Aikido is to become one with
the universe." "Aikido is primarily a way to achieve
physical and psychological self- mastery." "The body
is the concrete unification of the physical and spiritual created
by the universe." And so forth.
At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of
Aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:
(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever
possible. (2) A commitment to self-improvement through Aikido
Upon closer examination, practitioners will find from Aikido
what they are looking for, whether it is applicable self-defense
technique, spiritual enlightenment, physical health or peace
of mind. O Sensei emphasized the moral and spiritual aspects
of this art, placing great weight on the development of harmony
and peace. "The Way of Harmony of the Spirit" is one
way that "Aikido" may be translated into English.
This is still true of Aikido today, although different styles
emphasize the more spiritual aspects to greater or lesser degrees.
Although the idea of a martial discipline striving for peace
and harmony may seem paradoxical, it is the most basic tenet
of the art.
THE FIVE PRINCIPLES OF AIKIDO as Taught by the Founder
1. Aikido is the path that joins all paths of the universe
throughout eternity; it is the Universal Mind that contains
all things and unifies all things.
2. Aikido is the truth taught by the universe and must be applied
to our lives on this earth.
3. Aikido is the principle and the path that join humanity with
the Universal Consciousness.
4. Aikido will come to completion when each individual, following
his or her true path, becomes one with the universe.
5. Aikido is the path of strength and compassion that leads
to the infinite perfection and ever-increasing glory of God.