Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art that focuses on the development of mindfulness and personal growth. It is a comprehensive system of throws, joint-locks, strikes, and pins, combined with training with the Japanese sword and staff. Aikido relies on principles of balance, timing, and spacing, rather than size, strength, and might, making it practical for people of all ages, shapes, and sizes. The goal of aikido’s techniques and philosophy is to control aggression without inflicting injury.
Aikido was created by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), also known as O-Sensei (meaning “respected teacher,”) early in the twentieth century. It is now practiced worldwide as a path of spiritual, intellectual, and social growth that helps practitioners of all ages build mindfulness, confidence, and self-awareness. The path is personal and different for each student, and changes and grows over time. Understanding your path comes only with shugyo—intense, dedicated training. Perhaps more than any technique, it is the spirit of shugyo that defines aikido.
Aikido is not practiced as a competitive sport, so there are no tournaments, or emphasis on victory or fear of defeat. Rather than encouraging aggressive and competitive behaviors, aikido fosters community, social wellbeing, and cooperation. Progress is measured individually, not in relation to others or victory over others, and one’s greatest obstacle to success is oneself.