Aikido is a Japanese martial art founded by O-Sensei (“great teacher”) Morihei Ueshiba during roughly the 1920’s-60’s. It is influenced by the martial arts styles he studied, most notably Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. One important quality of Aikido is its emphasis on defending oneself while also protecting one’s attacker from injury.
The name Aikido literally translates as follows:
Or, combined together, the way of harmony with energy. More informally, it is often described as “blending with another person’s energy” or “using an attacker’s energy against them”.
The movements are mainly based on joint locks, takedowns, and throws. To implement the movements, Aikido emphasizes concepts such as balance and weight transfer, distance, position, and timing. A key part of this martial art is the focus on how to receive techniques safely, including how to move down to the floor and how to roll.
Aikido includes both empty-hand and weapon techniques, which can been seen to have many similarities. The boken (wooden sword) and jo (short staff) are both used, and depending on the style can include solo movements, solo forms, partnered movements, partnered forms, and disarming, as well as some other elements. Occasionally tanto (wooden knife) disarms are also taught.
In practice, Aikido is primarily done as classes, workshops, belt tests, and demonstrations. There is no sparring or competitions. The belt levels are usually not coloured as in many other martial arts; rather, the numbered levels count down (while wearing a white belt), then following the black belt test the levels count up again.