About Aikido

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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 Art."

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 O'Sensei Aikido FounderO’Sensei, 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.



Related Pages

Utah Aikido Dojo Directory

Aikido Videos














 "True budo is the loving protection of all

  beings with the spirit of reconciliation."
           -Morihei Ueshiba OSensei



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