What is Aikido?

The quick answer

Aikido is a martial art that originates from Japan. And so surely that means there is nothing more to say…

Aikido is made up of three Japanese characters (known as ‘kanji’):

The way of harmonising with energy

It is important to remember those three component parts. It is why, at Sankaku, we refer to Aikido as being “more than a martial art”.

Aikido does not involve fighting, or learning how to fight. The use of the word ‘do’ emphasises it is a path or a way. The naming was chosen for a deliberate reason by Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba (known as ‘O Sensei’).

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 (to your surprise) they turn out to be stronger than you? 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. This opens up more possibilities when dealing with aggression, both physically and mentally.

It opens up more possibilities for participation as well: Aikido does not favour people with strong upper body strength. 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 Zen, and its focus on relaxation, breathing, and composure, you could describe Aikido as a form of ‘mindfulness in motion’.