Most people come to martial arts with the goal of gaining the confidence that comes from being able to protect one’s self and their loved ones. They may also want to improve their level of fitness and flexibility. With the right amount of commitment and practice, most martial arts can help you achieve these goals.
The Japanese word, “Aikido,” is composed of three characters. “Ai” means ‘to unite, to come together, or harmonize.’ The second character is “Ki” which means energy, mind, or spirit. “Ki” can also mean “Spirit of the Universe” or “Universal Energy.” The last character “Do” means “a Way” or a “Path.” “Do” implies that Aikido is not just self-defense techniques, but a system that includes self development as well as spiritual development. Altogether these characters mean “the Way to Harmonize with the Spirit of the Universe.”
Aikido is based on many of the original Japanese martial arts of judo, jujitsu and others. It shares proven techniques for self defense against single and multiple attackers.
Aikido is primarily a self-defense art. One of its philosophical pillars is the notion of being in harmony with your attackers rather than being in conflict with them. The ideal of Aikido is not to think of overpowering, competing or defeating an opponent. Instead, the focus is to harmonize with them both spiritually and physically. To apply no more of a response than is necessary to protect yourself or others. This gives you options so that you can deal with the conflict at hand, without causing undue harm.
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.
Most people find that because of this deeply held philosophy, they can apply the principles learned in the dojo, in their every day lives with profound results.
Movements and Techniques
Aikido techniques express elements of philosophy, psychology, and physics. As we practice the movements, we will, at the same time, train our minds, improve our 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.
Aikido movements emphasize flexibility, balance, and circular motions. The aim of the Aikidoist is to have their mind and body unified and to maintain a calm, alert posture and spirit. Aikido movement originates at the hips and expresses itself through the arms and hands as a dance-like graceful, spherical flowing motion. The beauty of Aikido movements comes from the coordinated motion of the entire body–each part contributing to the integrated sequence of movement. The joint locking techniques, such as those applied to the wrist or elbow, flex the joints in the direction of natural bending. They result in no permanent damage to the joint or tissues even though the techniques are effective and can be painful.