Aikido is a fascinating martial art that reveals its secrets slowly and never runs out of surprises. It was developed principally in the 1920s and 30s by Morihei Ueshiba from older, traditional arts, above all Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu. It continues to be developed to this day in Japan and around the world.
Aikido includes unarmed techniques, such as throws, pins and strikes, as well as use of weapons (sword and stick). Equally important are being able to receive techniques and take falls safely, and moving so that you are always at an advantage.
A class usually begins with a warm-up, after which the instructor will demonstrate some technical exercises related to the theme of the class; students then partner up and work together in the exercises. As the class progresses it moves into the study of techniques, often paired with particular forms of attack.
Aikido training is non-competitive. You work with a partner to develop an understanding of the movements, and how it feels both to perform and receive a technique. Learning how to perform a sincere attack and safely receive a technique in return is just as important as learning to perform techniques themselves.
Weapons practice is integral to Aikido, and a portion of most classes will be devoted to studying weapons techniques and their relation to other aspects of the art.
People come to Aikido for all kinds of reasons and with different motivations, and get different things back from it.
Aikido teaches you how to look after yourself: it develops self-confidence, and the ability to stay calm and focused when under pressure or dealing with conflict. It’s not necessary to be athletic or powerful. Aikido helps develop core body strength, flexibility, balance and timing, and improve your posture and breathing, all of which are more important in Aikido than strength or speed.
Aikido translates literally as the way of harmony - a translation that has caused a great deal of misunderstanding about what Aikido is and what it is for. It is a martial art, and not a sport, form of exercise or competitive pass-time. There is no competition in Aikido. Competition requires rules, and within Aikido there are no rules.
If you’d like to know more, get in touch. The best thing you can do is to try it for yourself.