What is aikido?
Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art with origins in jujutsu. Click here for a little more on the historical context.
Aikido has principles no different to those of judo and it has also absorbed concepts from swordsmanship. These are entwined throughout the techniques and practice system of aikido making it interesting and absorbing to learn. The competitive aikido practice system is well structured for easy comprehension and quick learning. Basic practices utilising judo and kendo principles develop in stages through to final techniques. The context of each stage of practice relative to the underlying basics and the subsequent step are clear and logical. So, aikido is not only physically demanding but it is also an intellectual challenge.
As in other martial arts practice is through drills and techniques usually with another person who is not resisting or resisting in a controlled way to assist in learning and understanding. Prearranged groups of techniques and the drills derived from them to develop skill and ability are the core of aikido. They are practised with concepts of timing, combative distance, etc that would be found in competition. In this case, 'competition' means a competitive aspect of aikido not necessarily organised competitions although these are an option open to everyone.
In appearance, aikido may look a little like judo but there are a few clear differences. For example, judo techniques are applied at a grappling distance whereas in aikido there is some separation between the players so that they are generally out of range of each other's hips and legs. To ensure this distance, one player holds a sponge rubber knife and aims to stab his opponent while the other player is unarmed and aims to apply aikido techniques. In aikido free practice, grasps to the jacket and trousers as in judo are not allowed. Instead, the player without the knife must grasp one of his opponent's arms and break his balance to throw him. Alternatively, he can apply 'striking' techniques which, for safety reasons, involve placing an open hand onto the opponent's jaw or temple, for example, and pushing him over.
Through aikido you will get fitter, stronger and more flexible. As a modern martial art you will have the option of participating in competitions either formally or informally. As a martial art whose historical and technical roots go back a long way, you will be learning about a valuable Japanese cultural asset.