What is Aikido?
Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Ueshiba Morehei (also known within Aikido as O-Sensei) in the early parts of the 20th century. It is inspired by traditional Japanese arts including a branch of Jujitsu, and Kenjutsu (sword techniques). Its focus is on self-defense through the blending and redirecting of an attacker’s energy, with the goal of reducing aggression.
The word “Aikido” can be translated from Japanese to English in several ways, such as “The Way of Unifying Energy” or “The Way of Harmonious Spirit”. It is a combination of 3 characters:
合 – Ai, Joining or unifying
気 – Ki, Spirit or energy
道 – Do, Path or Way
Many martial arts focus on meeting aggression with aggression, striking to disable the opponent before they have a chance to do the same. Aikido’s approach is different – through the use of good timing, an understanding of how a human body moves, and being stable in one’s centre (also known as the hara), one can cope with an attack without bringing in more aggression.
Another interesting difference from many martial arts is the lack of competition. While there is a branch of Aikido which does hold tournaments, most hold seminars instead. This allows for Aikido students to meet each other, and learn from a different teacher.
I’ve been practicing Aikido since 2008, first at Aikido Shugyo Dojo under Fran Turner, then at MUN Aikido under Shin Chin. Over the last 5 years, I’ve been lucky enough to participate in seminars lead by some fantastic teachers, including (in no particular order):
In addition, I was incredibly fortunate to attend a few classes at Aikido Hombu Dojo with Doshu (the current head of the Aikikai), Wakasensei (Doshu’s son), and Hayato Osawa (the current Techincal Director for the Canadian Aikido Federation).