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What Is Aikido?


Thanks to Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre for the image.

Aikido is a distillation of hundreds of years of Japanese martial arts practices fused with Chinese and Indian philosophy. Think of the exercises in Aikido as a greatest hits list of sorts. Although it is a relatively new martial art, all of the exercises come from the various ancient Japanese martial arts. Here’s more information about this newer Japanese martial art.

The History of Aikido

In the early twentieth century, Morihei Ueshiba created Aikido. After studying various armed and unarmed martial arts, Ueshiba (who is referred to as “O-Sensai” or “venerable teacher”) picked what he believed to be the best moves. With the creation of his new martial art, Ueshiba decided to incorporate some meditative disciplines from India and China.

His main goal was to produce formidable soldiers with integrity. It wasn’t enough for his students to be physically strong and best opponents, he wanted them to be mentally strong and have a conscience as well. According to, Ueshiba’s goal was to produce students that were “a model of uprightness, courage and loyalty, gladly sacrificing life (but never honor) in the name of principle and duty.”

Aikido Class

In Aikido, you will frequently work with a partner. You will practice blocking attacks and redirecting the energy of your attacker. According to, the techniques include:  kicks, punches, strikes, single or two-hand grabs from the front or rear, chokes, multiple person attacks, and attacks with weapons. The goal of Aikido is to resolve the conflict in a non-disruptive yet effective manner.

In some styles of martial arts, attacks only come from the front. Since Aikido attacks come from the front or rear, this martial art is quite involved in all planes of motion. This means that you may end up turning, pivoting, and even throwing your partner down to the mat.

If you are new to Aikido, it will probably be acceptable for you to show up in loose-fitting clothing. Make sure you can move comfortable. After a while, though, you will want to get a uniform. Just like with other martial arts classes, you will wear a white loose jacket and either white or black loose pants. This ensemble is a gi. Your colored belt is called an obi. Here is the belt color progression:  white, yellow, orange, blue, brown, black, black with thin gold stripe, then black with red stripe.

Aikido is a non-competitive martial art. To advance, you must demonstrate understanding of exercises and techniques. This means that advancement can take quite a while.

Finding Aikido Near You

Per usual, I recommend trusty Google to find an Aikido school. Be aware that when you search for Aikido near you, you will also probably get links for local club websites. This is a great opportunity to find out about the local schools in your area, but there will probably be some bias.

Don’t forget to check around with your friends as well. I like Facebook as a way to quickly ask my friends if they have opinions or experiences with local businesses.

Have you practiced Aikido? What did you think? Let us know in the comments below.

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About Sarah Stockett

Hi, I'm Sarah! I'm a certified Pilates and yoga instructor with a passion for pain relief. I believe you can use simple exercises to relieve your aches + pains. AND, I believe I can teach you how.

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