Aikido is a martial art that originates from Japan.
It is also a modern martial art. Aikido is quite a recent invention, having been developed during the early twentieth century by Morihei Ueshiba (known as ‘O Sensei’).
To understand Aikido it is helpful to consider the three Japanese words that make up its name:
The way of harmonising with energy
Harmony occurs because the Aikido student learns to harmonise with an attacker’s incoming energy and to redirect it. This means physical strength is not the priority. Relying on physical strength to overpower a person can be counter-productive – what if the attacker turns out to be stronger than you expected? That is not a great situation to be in!
Relaxation connection balance & movement.
Because Aikido harmonises with an attacker’s energy, students learn to exploit relaxation, balance, spatial awareness, and dynamic movement rather than relying on physical strength.
That is why Aikido translates as ‘the way of harmonising with energy’.
It opens up more possibilities for participation as well because Aikido does not favour people with strong upper body strength or particular body types. Muscle power does not work.
That might explain why Aikido has a high rate of participation by women compared to many martial arts.
The original mindfulness?
It is a feature of modern martial arts that they have a positive impact on mental well-being as well as physical health.
Aikido is no exception. In fact, with its roots in Japanese culture and and its focus on relaxation, breathing and composure, you could describe Aikido as a form of ‘mindfulness in motion’.