Aikido is described by many people as many things, and all to an extent are true. But the truth of what Aikido is as a whole lies in the life quest of a man named Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), whom in Aikido we refer to with the title of 'O-Sensei', or 'Great Teacher'. In O-Sensei's Life, he studied and taught many Martial Arts, and was considered the greatest Martial Artist in Japan of his day. Modern Aikido is the synthesis of O-Sensei's Martial History, as well as that of many of his students who became great teachers in their own right.
Aikido is a highly refined martial art, developed around the 1920s (aikibudo) as a means of self-defence and spiritual training. Aikido developes coordination of mind and body. Through its philosophy and techniques, Aikido brings us in harmony with our environment, other people and ourselves. Unlike many martial arts, Aikido requires no advantage in strength or speed, and is practiced successfully by people of all ages and abilities. Aikido practice develops flexibility, coordination, concentration, improved health and fitness, effective communication skills and self-esteem.
Central to Aikido is the idea of being in harmony with your opponents, rather than in conflict with them. The movement and energy of an attack is redirected without the need for collision or the use of force. The physical practice of this fundamental principle of Aikido leads to a better understanding of people and nature, while teaching the essential skills for the resolution of conflict. The movements of Aikido are circular and flowing. They are designed on the principles of nature and move in circles and spirals. When Aikido is performed well there is great beauty and composure in the movements of both partners.
Training in Aikido requires consistent and diligent practice. Although as a beginner you might train just once a week, you should be prepared to make a commitment to train at least two or three times a week if you want to make progress in the future. Sincere and dedicated practice is required to attain a state of being in which philosophy, technique, attitude and spirit merge. When there is no longer a distinction between daily life and the practice of Aikido we truly will be following the Way of Harmony.
The physical aspects of Aikido, as graceful and dynamic as they can be, are only the outward manifestation of what is, most importantly, a real and direct way to improve our quality of life.
'Life is a divine gift. the divine is not something outside of us, it is right at our very centre; it is our freedom. In our training, we learn the real nature of life and death. When life is victorious, there is birth; when it is thwarted, there is death. a warrior is always engaged in a life-and-death struggle for peace.'