There a number of aikido events and seminars hosted around the world. These events usually are limited in capacity and require an entrance fee. Usually the aikido events or seminars are held over the weekend. Most of the time, guests can bring their cameras and camera tripod to take pictures to show those who are not able to attend the events and/or seminars. In addition to events or seminars, there are also tournaments and for 2013, there is 2013 Aikido World Championships as well as International Junior Aikido Festival (The 11th Kansai Junior Aikido Tournament).
Like all martial arts, or Budō, Aikido features some very specific techniques that Aikidoists must perfect if they are to achieve success in their studies. These techniques are tested using the Dan grading system, with advancement to the next Dan depending on successfully completing each technique at the current level.
In terms of techniques, Aikido utilizes a series of highly-focused and highly-effective maneuvers designed to fend off attack with minimal or no harm to both parties involved. Each of these maneuvers takes advantage of weak points on the human anatomy, which aids a quick defense over long, drawn-out encounters.
Designed as a style of self-defense, Aikidoists must also learn how to strike if they are to successfully master the Budō. In the dojo, one combatant will take on the role of Uke, or attacker, while another will play out the role of Tori, the person being attached. Both must train in order to perfect their moves.
The Uke will attack the Tori, either with or without a weapon, forcing the Tori to deflect strikes and neutralize his or her opponent. Striking stances tend to fall into one of four categories: matching stances, opposite stances, low strike and behind strike. The Uke can attack from any of these and using the right technique, the Tori can defend any.
Many Aikido techniques focus on using the elbow or wrist to control an attacker. Other joints, including the ankle, knee and shoulder, can also be manipulated. The aim is to unbalance the attacker and use their momentum against them.
Elbow techniques involve folding the attackers arm in a manner in which it is not accustomed to. For example, after clutching the elbow with one hand and the wrist with another, the Tori can fold the Uke’s arm against the natural bend of the arm, which will quickly force the opponent towards the ground. Arm twisting and pinning can also be utilized, while – depending on the move – the opponent can be pulled or pushed downwards.
Wrist techniques follow a similar pattern to those of the elbow. The twisting and folding of a wrist can be used to manipulate an opponent’s movement, with a Tori able to put their Uke on the ground directly or with a leg sweep. Rotating the arm against its natural movement, or wringing it, has the same impact.
Aikido relies on basic learning techniques which develop the ability to take control of an opponent’s movement. From there, hip throws, leg takedowns, armbars and the likes can be utilized to incapacity an opponent in quick fashion.
After learning the standard Aikido techniques via the Uke-Tori method, Aikidoists can move on to combatting multiple opponents. This can still be presented in the pre-arranged format, but it is here that the Randori style of training more likely to occur.
Randori, which is often translated as “chaos”, is a freestyle training method in which the Uke is permitted to counter a Tori’s moves, forcing the defender to utilize other techniques to defend themselves. Again, this type of training can also include weapons. Aikidoists with the correct training can disarm and nullify even an armed group.
Aikido was founded and introduced to the world in the late 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba, a scholar of the martial arts. The origins of this form of Budō however stretch back to the samurai traditions of the previous century.
Ueshiba was born in Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture in December 1883. His family lived and worked on a farm and his upbringing was similar to most children of the time. He attended school before trying out several jobs. During his time as a merchant he began to study Jujutsu, for which he quickly gained an affinity. After a stretch in the army during the Russo-Japanese War, he returned to his martial arts studies and soon found himself under the tutelage of the renowned Sokaka Taekeda.
Takeda was a master of Daitoryu Aikijujutsu, a secret form of JuJutsu employed by the Aizu Clan of samurai. In 1897 he had embarked on a mission to spread word of the Budō, training some 30,000 students in the process. One of those students was Ueshiba.
Under Takeda, Ueshiba learned a series of martial art styles, including Daitoryu Akinjujutsu, Hiden Ogi no Koto and Aikijujutsu Hiden Ogi no Koto, excelling at each. In 1923, Ueshiba was appointed an official Aikijujutsu instructor by his teacher and began training others in the form.
Whilst instructing others, Ueshiba would devise new techniques and forms of martial arts, taking elements of everything he had previously known and fusing them into new, innovative styles. He would also incorporate elements of Ōmoto-kyō, a new religion in Japan. The combination of physical techniques and spiritual reasoning would go on to make up the basis of the Aikido we know today.
In 1926, Ueshiba was joined by a new student who would prove to be an important part of the expansion of Aikido. Kenjo Tomiki, a university student at the time, was a competent Judoka and he quickly merged these skills with Ueshiba’s techniques and styles. Tomiki would eventually become Ueshiba’s uke (training partner), combining his combat styles with the Ōmoto-kyō religion.
Tomiki would head to Manchuria in 1934 as an Ueshiba-ryu-Aikijujutsu instructor, where he would train the Kanton Army. This led to an increase in the popularity of the style in the region. This popularity would increase further after he took on the role of martial arts lecturer in a Manchurian university, where Aiki Budo – as it was known then – would be made a permanent fixture on the curriculum.In 1940, Ueshiba – who continued to train newcomers until his death in 1969 – adopted the Dan system, bestowing Tomiki the accolade of 8th Dan. In 1942, the name Aikido – roughly meaning “The Way of Harmony with the Spirit and the Energy” – was coined and is used to this day. Tomiki would go on to found Shadokan, his own form of Aikido, as well as penning a series of books about the subject.
Today, Ueshiba’s teachings and Aikido have spread globally with dojos to be found across the continents. The Budō is used as a method of self-defense, exercise and spiritual way of life by the young and old.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art, or Budō, that focuses on combining self-defense and combat skills with a peaceful philosophy to create a harmonious way of life.
Developed in Japan in the late 1920s, Aikido – which roughly translates to “The Way of Harmony with the Spirit and Energy” – teaches a series of physical grappling skills designed to neutralize an attacker preferably without causing physical harm to either the assailant or the victim. However, the martial art is grounded in a philosophy of peace and harmony that dictates physical confrontation should only be used as a last resort.
In terms of the physical techniques utilized, Aikido teaches a selection of strike attacks but truly focuses on defending these through throwing and joint manipulation techniques. This makes it more akin to the likes of Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu than Taekwondo and Karate.
Techniques common in Aikido include hip throws, wrist locks, pins and other leverage-based maneuvers. The idea is to use an attacker’s momentum against them by focusing on the body’s weak points, including shoulder, arm and leg joints. By doing so, a smaller person can easily fend off a much larger opponent.
Aikido is about more than knowing how to take down an opponent though. It’s also about finding inner peace and avoiding physical confrontation in the first place. In this regards it is similar to tai chi, a Chinese martial art that has become popular in the western world for the health and mental benefits it offers.
Aikido teaches relaxation of the body and mind, a tool that can be used even in the face of physical confrontation. A mind that is clear and focused will allow a person to fend off attack quicker and with less risk of physical damage than a mind that is cluttered with chaos in the face of adversity.
The cohesion that exists between the physical and mental aspects of Aikido makes it hugely beneficial in terms of the health of body and mind.
On the physical side of things, Aikido obviously offers excellent self-defense training which can prove the difference between life and death in some situations, but there’s more to it than that. The martial art also offers an anaerobic workout, improving both muscular tone and cardio. Fat can be lost and an optimum body weight and size maintained, while the deep breathing exercises and calming techniques associated with it allow practitioners to exercise longer and harder. Circulation and respiration is improved during training, which in turn offers a slew of physical health benefits.
On the mental side of things, Aikido – like many forms of physical exercise – is an excellent stress reliever. It can allow a person to work off any emotional troubles that may be festering within, while ‘happy’ endorphins are released which ease further psychological pressures.
When utilized to its full scope, that is to say when the lifestyle and spiritualism of Aikido is included alongside its physical aspects, it can also generate peace and tranquility, as well as a harmonious existence, something millions of practitioners are learning first hand.