Meaning of the word "Aikido"
The word "Aikido" in Japanese is made up of three characters. The first is "AI"
which means "to unite, to come together, to harmonize." The second character is "KI" which means "the energy and
spirit of the universe." The third character is "DO" which means "the way, the path." This signifies that the study
of Aikido does not only involve self-defense techniques, but it also includes positive character-building ideals
which a person can incorporate into their life. Together these characters mean "The way to harmonize with the spirit of the universe."
Philosophy of Aikido
The most unusual aspect of Aikido is that, although it is primarily a self-defense
art, it has as the basis of its philosophy the idea of being in harmony with your opponent rather than being
in conflict with them.
The ideal of Aikido is not to think of defeating your enemy, but rather to be in harmony with him, spiritually and
physically. This is why Aikido is sometimes called the "Art of Non-Resistance," or the "Non-Fighting Martial
Aikido techniques express elements of philosophy, psychology and physics. As one
learns the movements, they will, at the same time, train their mind, improve their health and develop
self-confidence. Through the physical practice of the self-defense techniques, the Aikido student comes to
appreciate and understand the mental and spiritual aspects of Aikido. During practice sessions, partners work in
harmony with each other, learning when and how to yield, how to lead and guide another person’s movements and how
to control an opponent through non-resistive techniques.
Aikido Movements and Techniques
Aikido movements emphasize flexibility and balance. The aim of the Aikidoka is to
be in complete control of their mind and body and to maintain a calm, alert posture. The continuous and flexible
motion which originates at the hips is like the performance of a dance - a graceful, spherical motion. The beauty
of Aikido movements comes from the coordinated motion of the entire body - each part contributing to the integrated
sequence of the movement.
The joint locking techniques, such as those applied to the wrist or elbow, flex
the joints in the direction of natural bending. They are in harmony with the natural flexing and, although such
techniques are painful and effective, they result in no permanent damage to the joint.
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969)
Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba Sensei, or O’Sensei (Great Teacher)
as he is called, spent many arduous years training in "budo" (Japanese martial arts). He also delved deeply into
religions, studying Buddhism, Shinto, and Oomoto Kyo. Although he became very strong and won many matches, he was
troubled with the idea that winning at someone else’s expense was not really winning.
He came to realize that true victory is not winning over others, but winning over
the discord within oneself. He modified the movements he had learned over the years to express this realization. As
a result, Aikido was born as a way to divert harm to one’s self while not inflicting permanent injury on an
aggressor. As you study Aikido, it becomes clear that it is not only an effective means of self-defense, but truly
a way to understand life through the study of the energy of the universe.
Michael Friedl Sensei, Aikido of Ashland
By permission of the author.
Utah Aikido Dojo