Aikido - The Way of Harmony
Aikido has its origins in the centuries old traditions of the Japanese martial arts. It is a form of budo (martial ways of self refinement) - a way of life that seeks to polish the self through a blend of rigorous physical training and spiritual discipline.
There is no attack in Aikido. It is an art of self-defense against an unprovoked attack.
Its uniqueness as a martial art lies in its awareness of a deep sense of harmony with all of creation, therefore, training is designed to defend not only the self, but to bring the attacker under control without the necessity of inflicting injury.
The techniques of Aikido - avoidance, control, neutralization - are characterized by a relaxed body, calm mind, integrated breath, and extension of natural energies. Movements are flowing and graceful. In practice, the motions of Aikido reflect the ebbs and flows, the curves, waves, and spirals of nature. The inner strength and beauty of the art comes from unity of mind, body and spirit, a state that enables the Aikidoist to blend with the power of an opponent’s attack and return it to its source.
Teaching methods are varied, and in addition to systematic training in non-violent self-defense techniques, they include meditation, breathing, centering, and other supportive exercises. Practice is designed to develop: Aikido skills, conditioning, self-confidence, and a spirit of loving cooperation. Because of Aikido’s non-competitive, harmonious philosophy, men, women, and children of all ages can train together in a mutually supportive atmosphere, and at an energy level appropriate for each individual.
Master Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969)
The founder of Aikido was a man named Morihei Ueshiba, also known as "0-Sensei". He was an extraordinary martial artist. He practiced and mastered many of the traditional fighting arts of Japan, most notably Aikijujitsu, and the use of the sword, spear and staff.
Although he gained a reputation of being virtually unbeatable, he was at the same time profoundly troubled with the conflict that arose between his martial skills and his spiritual training.
He felt strongly that winning at someone else’s expense was not really winning. In his search to resolve this conflict, he began a period of intense study, practicing movements, exploring them deeply, and sitting long hours in meditation.
The result was the birth of Aikido, an entirely new martial art based not on destruction, but on harmonious resolution of conflict in all its varied forms.