The Japanese martial art of Aikido is a comprehensive system of throwing, joint-locking and pinning techniques, coupled with training in traditional Japanese weapons such as sword, staff and knife.
Founded by Morihei Ueshiba early in the twentieth century following his own extensive study of various martial systems, Aikido represents a potent distillation of centuries of Japanese martial knowledge. It is one of the most widely practiced “Budo”, or martial way in the world. However, Ueshiba (commonly called O Sensei or venerable teacher was determined that his Aikido be practiced as more than simply a method of fighting.
The Japanese martial arts, influenced by the internal and meditative disciplines inherited from India and China, have often carried with them an emphasis on the development of internal, as well as physical integrity. Wielding the life taking swords with compassion and insight, the ideal warrior in Japanese thought is more than a simple killing machine; he is a model of uprightness, courage and loyalty, gladly sacrificing his life (but never honor) in the name of principle and duty.
Stepped in these traditions, O Sensei conceived of Aikido as not only a means of vanquishing a foe, but as a means of promoting the positive character of an idea warrior ultimately transcending dualistic conflict.
For O Sensei, Aikido was a path of self-development. He believe that it could be a means for anyone, of any race to follow the same path.
Benefits of Aikido
Aikido: The Martial Way
To understand Aikido and its benefits, it must be said that as a traditional Japanese martial art, Aikido is more than simply an efficient method of self-defense. It is a form of Budo – a “martial way”. The word “DO” in Japanese is the same as the Chinese word “TAO”. It denotes a path of understanding, a way of life, and the Way of the universe itself.
In Japanese history, as in many cultures, the warrior arts were considered uniquely suited not only for practical use during times of war, but for the refinement and development of the human character. The qualities and principles of the ideal warrior – courage, decisiveness, strength, clarity of mind, compassion – are also the ideal qualities of the human being. In this way, the Japanese martial tradition has always stressed the applicability of martial principles to daily life. This understanding is the meaning of budo. A related word, Bushido (“the way of the warrior”) also expresses this. A warrior’s way of life is not simply fighting, but is the constant striving for self-perfection in all things.
These traditions today are carried on in the martial ways like Aikido. Everything in Aikido training is meant to develop not only a strong individual, but one with the wisdom and energy to positively benefit society. A true martial artist views conflict not merely as a contest with others, but as an opportunity to forge oneself and overcome our true enemies, which is within ourselves. A life lived fully in this manner naturally becomes shugyo: the deepest possible spiritual training. A favorite saying of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido, was Masakatsu, Agatsu: “True victory is self-victory.” This truly is the spirit of Aikido.