Beginner Information

Curious about Aikido?

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba from 1930 to his death in 1969. The essence of Aikido can best be described in the translation of its name. The word “Aikido” in Japanese is made up of three characters. Ai means “harmony or oneness.” Ki means “energy or spirit.” In a larger context, Ki also means the spirit of the Universe. Do means the way or the path.” This Signifies that the study of Aikido is not merely the study of the techniques of self-defense, but represents a: philosophy that a person can incorporate into his life.

Aikido can be seen as a way to harmonize with an attacker's force or energy, and in so doing allow the force to turn itself back on the attacker. This leaves the attacker to deal with his aggression and not the practitioner. It is a lesson to both, that mindless violence is self destructive. Aikido is interpreted as a “Way of life in Harmony with the Universal Spirit.”

How is Aikido Practiced

The practice of Aikido can take many forms. It includes various meditation techniques, individual exercises both with and without weapons (wooden swords. and short staff), partnered exercises, movements that teach body awareness. Ki development and healing practices.

What is a beginning class?

A beginning class in Aikido teaches the basic principles of the art. That is the idea of mind-body coordination. This is accomplished by the demonstration of four principles: Keeping one-point, Being relaxed, Keeping weight underside, and Extending Ki. Exercises that increase body flexibility, allow the mind calmness, and basic body mechanics are used to achieve this training. Fundamental self-defense techniques that demonstrate these principles are taught.

Do I need to wear anything special?

The traditional garment worn in Japanese martial arts training is a Gi. However loose fitting pants and long sleeved top are acceptable.

Does Aikido rely on physical strength or size for effectiveness?

Aikido is an art that does not rely on physical strength for its effectiveness, through the training of correct body posture and movement a physical integrity develops that allows anyone to practice the self control and evasive techniques that can avoid conflict, both physical and mental.

AIKIDO: A Unique Art of Self-Defense: Meaning of the word Aikido

The word "Aikido" in Japanese is made up of three characters. The first and most important is "ai," which means "to meet, to come together, to harmonize.'" The second is "ki," which means in modern Japanese "the mind, the soul, and the spirit." In the larger context, "ki" means the spirit of the A Universe, and not only the spirit of mere human beings. The third and last character is "do," which means "the way, as in kendo, or judo, to signify that the study of Aikido does not encompass merely techniques of self-defense, but represents positive ideals which a person can incorporate into his life.

Aikido and Health

The movements of Aikido agree with the laws of nature which include a flowing flexibility and keeping a stable balance. The aim of Aikidoists is to be one with the Universe, in complete self-control; for when we have self-control, we also have a posture which is completely alert. By exercising our whole body we approach improved health.

The flexible motion based at the hips is like the performance of a dance, a graceful motion. The finger motion, wrist motion and hip motion - the movements, of every part of the body - are unified into a systematically controlled motion. Controlled breathing is an integral part of the basic power of Aikido, and originates from the "Centrum" or "one point," the center point of the abdominal region. This breathing naturally relaxes one's strength, and becomes the basis of constructing a flexible but stable posture for both young and old.

Joint Techniques

Most of the joint techniques of Aikido employ the moving of the joints in the direction which they can bend naturally. It is different from ordinary reversal techniques, which damage the joints by turning them in the direction counter to natural bending. The "natural bending" techniques in Aikido relate directly to the general principles of circular and spherical motion, and of harmony with Nature.

Dynamic Analysis of Aikido

The human body in motion becomes like a spinning top, and when not in motion the body of the Aikidoist assumes the stable posture of an equilateral tetrahedron (like a pyramid). When the movement begins, the body becomes like a spinning top. In this sense, the techniques of Aikido are performed to change the opponent's mental and physical balance, causing him to revolve around the Aikidoist's rotating "one point" or "Centrum." He finds himself turning around the outer circle of the Aikidoist's top-like movements.

Courtesy and Etiquette

Courtesy in the dojo is an important part of the martial arts. It creates a harmonious atmosphere and it is an excellent means of self-improvement. Courtesy is a sign that you are thinking of the other fellow before you think of yourself. There are a few courtesies that are particular to dojo alone.

  • Bow to the Shihan-dai or Shomen when entering or leaving the dojo, the training room, or mat.
  • Bow to the teacher (sensei) before and after practice and whenever he instructs you personally.
  • Kneel (seiza) and maintain a straight position when the teacher is demonstrating to the class. You may shift to a sitting position (zazen) with your legs crossed, after sitting in seiza for as long as possible.
  • If you have a question while training. call "sensei," and wait for a reply, Do not interrupt sensei while he is speaking. Please wait until he is done.
  • After class, assist in the cleanup of the training area by sweeping the training mat, the floor around it, or dusting the Shomen and other parts of the training area.