Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed from unique forms of jiujutsu (柔術, the gentle art) and traditional weapons. Throws, locks, pins and striking techniques plus weapons training (sword, staff, knife) provide capability against one or more attackers, armed or unarmed, but also but serve as a path for unifying and polishing the body, mind and spirit, which will benefit your daily life. This is the Way of Aikido!
Technically Aikido goes beyond mere "pull when pushed, push when pulled" movements and simple leverage. Aikido principles hold that the mind and body are one. When a person moves in a fully unified manner - including properly coordinating movement with inhalation and exhalation - great power is possible. By refusing to collide with the motion of an attack and employing universal principles of centrifugal, centripetal and gravitational force plus linear, triangular and circular movement, it is possible to redirect and otherwise control an opponent effectively but safely.
Aikido was developed in the early 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969); known to his students as O-Sensei (Great Teacher), a legendary master of ancient samurai martial arts.
"At about the age of 14 or 15. First I learned Tenshinyo-ryu jiujutsu from Tozawa Tokusaburo Sensei, then Kito-ryu, Yagyu-ryu, Aioi-ryu, Shinkage-ryu, all of them jiujutsu forms. However, I thought there might be a true form of budo elsewhere. I tried Hozoin-ryu Sojutsu and Kendo." - Morihei Ueshiba
And then, at thirty, O-sensei had a fateful meeting with Takeda Sokaku in Hokkaido and Takeda sensei “opened his eyes” to budo (martial ways) with his Aiki-jiujutsu, which O-sensei then himself mastered. However, O-Sensei was a deeply spiritual man and an early taste of war forged his opposition to the use of martial arts for destructive purposes. Out of his rigorous physical, mental and spiritual training, study and other life experiences Aikido was born - a discipline for controlling aggression and violence and otherwise help people realize their full potential as individuals: physically, mentally and spiritually.
While the system has highly ethical and moral ideals about preserving rather than destroying life, reconciling conflict and contesting and fighting nothing, Aikido IS jiujutsu and the understanding of and the realization of its various ideals is only achievable through long, vigorous and continuous training. “This is not mere theory, you must practice it”, as O-sensei is quoted. Indeed; Aikido is not a philosophy lesson, nor is it a sport or some form of entertainment. It is a budo, developed from samurai killing arts of jiujutsu, sōjutsu (槍術, spear technique) and kenjutsu (剣術, swordsmanship) from which the founder developed a life affirming and protecting way of self defense and personal development.
At Beijing Aikikai, we train intensively but as safely as possible for each student while pushing his or her perceived limits of endurance and ability. Students gain the broad benefits of Aikido training but also learn practical physical application of the art. Through the mutual physical contact and shared strenuous experience of training, we learn to respect and value others and ourselves. Aikido offers a means of interaction, of human communication, that transcends the barriers of lifestyle, language, culture, nationality and race. It is a martial way for all people to polish their body, mind, and spirit and gain insight into the fundamental creative force of the universe and true nature of things.
"The fact that there are no competitions in Aikido is a logical conclusion of its philosophy. Since winning and losing are never a concern, the trainees are free to dedicate their efforts to mutual goals. It is therefore possible for men, women, and children of all ages to walk together down the path of budo, the heart of Aikido. Each individual trains and progresses at his or her own pace, finding harmony through personal development. Regular practice brings a sense of well-being and self-confidence that permeates all aspects of daily life. As people with varying personalities and lifestyles come together for practice, they gain concrete experience in reconciling different points of view. In Aikido, there is no "Way" except the path of confronting "the enemy" that lies within oneself. Aikido is a path of dogged perseverance and dedication to improving both spirit and body. The recognition and acceptance of this aspect of training are the surest means of consistent personal development."
An excerpt from the late Mitsunari Kanai Shihan's video titled Technical Aikido, which can be purchased at www.neaikikai.com.