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Origin

What is Aikido

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba (14 December 1883 – 26 April 1969), referred to by some aikido practitioners as Ōsensei (Great Teacher), during the late 1920s. Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. In aikido, specific muscles or muscle groups are not isolated and worked to improve tone, mass, or power. Aikido-related training emphasizes the use of coordinated whole-body movement and balance. That is why Aikido is called the art of non-resistance. It combines strikes, grabs, and weapon practice.

Morihei-UeshibaThe history of Aikido is linked to Morihei Ueshiba, one of the most prominent figures of the 20th century. Ueshiba spent the first three decades of his life studying various martial arts (mainly jujutsu of Daito-ryu school, but also kenjutsu -swordsmanship- as well as other fighting styles) and since the mid-1930s he began to teach his own version of an art based on throws and immobilizations, including disarmament techniques against opponents armed with a wooden sword, a wooden stick of 1.20 m (jo) or a knife (tanto). A basic feature of Aikido over other jujutsu arts is Ueshiba’s ideology which prohibits fights and promotes harmony and mutual understanding among people. Aikido today is divided into three major styles, one of which (Aikikai) is administrated by Ueshiba’s descendants (right now by his grandson), according to the traditional Japanese system.

Just like the rest of the arts based on jujutsu, Aikido relies on avoiding the attack by moving the body, breaking the opponent’s balance and controlling it, often by using immobilizations and / or pins. Aikido techniques consist of entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent’s attack, and a throw or joint lock that terminates the technique, since the basic “assumption” is that the attacks are dealt with before they get too close for comfort. Due to the many falls – reminiscent of Judo’s falls – the practice takes place on a specific kind of floor (tatami) and a visual feature of the art is the use of the traditional Japanese type of clothing, that are called hakama.

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Founder

Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), an extremely endowed and deeply spiritual man, also called O-Sensei (Grand Master). When he was born, he was quite small and rather feeble as a child. He was hyperactive though and ambitious to discover the world beyond the boundaries of his birthplace, so he occupied with many different things, including several traditional Japanese martial arts. Daito ryu Aiki jujutsu was the art he was trained in the most, as a four-year student of a martial arts legend, Sokaku Takeda (1859-1943), which was the greatest influence on the creation of today’s Aikido. Nevertheless, Ueshiba’s quest was mostly spiritual rather than combative, and while he gained a lot from Takeda, he still felt the need for something deeper than technical skill and impressive power. This need led him to a sequence of events through which he gained revealing experiences that would make him transform what he had previously learned, in Aikido, the Way of Harmonization with the vital Energy of the universe, or the Art of Harmony.

The Tradition
The basic principle of Aikido is to effectively neutralize an unjustified and violent offensive action against us, while protecting the attacker from serious injury. In other words, redirecting incoming negative energy in a way that will not affect the harmony of our relationship with others. This can be achieved by cultivating internal ethical behavior, through the diligent and uninterrupted study of techniques.
The fundamental principles of Aikido are the following:

  1. The control of the weak from the powerful. The means to achieve the maximum possible effect with the least possible effort is the correct technique and not the physical force. This means that exercise is possible for everyone, men and women, adults and children, young and old, both trained and untrained. Exercise in Aikido can last a lifetime, with the proper adjustments.
  2. The coordination of our entire body and movement with the momentum and strength of the opponent. This is not limited to simple physical skill. The trainee must be able to perceive the intention of his opponent and, harmonizing with it, to restore the balance in their relationship. An ungainly or violent movement cannot be Aikido.
  3. The collaboration between the trainees in the execution of techniques. Techniques are securely obtained in the form of predetermined motions that are repeated until they become reflexive actions. However, predetermined does not mean “dead”. Each iteration must be effective. The essence of the exercise is that practitioners perfect their moves and try to acquire real power by applying the techniques correctly. Also, the rotation of trainees’ roles into “attackers” and “defenders” contributes to the understanding of solidarity and the cultivation of humbleness.
  4. The complete lack of competitions and organized matches. Even engaging in unnecessary strength competitions that lead to superiority or inferiority complexes is avoided. The aim of the trainee is to subdue the most vulgar aspect of his nature and to defeat the weaknesses or fears of the opponent and -by extension- himself.

Technical Characteristics
Some of the technical aspects that make Aikido so special as a Martial Road are the following:

  • Circular movement. Its effectiveness is that we can achieve a change of direction of the initial motion without interrupting its flow. It also gives Aikido the beauty and plasticity that characterizes it visually.
  • Centripetal and centrifugal force. By properly executing a rotary or spiral motion, we can take advantage of the opponent’s momentum and divert his power in any direction by using a technique that will lead him to a fall or immobilization.
  • Breaking opponent’s balance. Taking advantage of his blind spots, we can put him out of battle, in some cases simply by moving our center of gravity.
  • Distance and timing. Learning the right distance and placement in space combined with the synchronization of our movements – and on an advanced level of our energy – with the opponent is the quintessence of Aikido.

In the Art of Peace we never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control. Never run away from any kind of challenge, but do not try to suppress or control on opponent unnaturally. Let attackers come any way they like and then blend with them. Never chase after opponents. Redirect each attack and get firmly behind it. ~ Ueshiba Morihei

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