By Cathy Richey, the Cathy Factor
The martial arts style of aikido was mostly formulated during the 1920's and
30's by Morihei Ueshiba in Japan.
- Aiki refers to the idea of becoming one with an aggressor's movements so
as to control the aggressor with minimal effort.
- Do refers to the philosophical concept of Tao, which can also be found
in the martial arts defining terms of judo, taekwondo, and kendo.
The history of aikido coincides with that of its founder, Morihei Ueshiba.
Ueshiba was born in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan on December 14, 1883. His
father was a wealthy landowner that traded in lumber and fishing and was
politically active. Ueshiba was somewhat bookish and weak as a child.
His father encouraged him to engage in athletics at an early age and often
spoke of Kichiemon, a great samurai that also happened to be his great
grandfather. Ueshiba witnessed his father being attacked for his political
beliefs and connections. This made Ueshiba want to be strong enough to defend
himself and perhaps even gain revenge on those that would do his family harm.
His training in Aikido began, and was lifelong.
Ueshiba is referred to by many aikido students and practitioners as Osensei
(great teacher) due to his amazing contributions to the art. In 1951, aikido was
first introduced to the West by Minoru Mochizuki when he visited France to teach
Characteristics of Aikido
"To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace," was
once said by Ueshiba. This sentence seems to encompass both aikido's physical
and philosophical teachings.
Along with this, aikido is primarily a defensive art. In other words,
practitioners are taught to use their attacker's aggression and power against
them. This is done through the use of throws, joint locks (particularly of the
standing variety), and pins.
Aikido is generally learned through the practice of pre-arranged two person
katas or forms. One person becomes the attacker in teaching, while the other
utilizes aikido techniques to subdue their attacker. Many of the pre-arranged
strikes that are defended against in practice seem to resemble the possible
movements of a sword, indicating that aikido had weapons defense significantly
on the mind in the past.
The actual use of weapons, free sparring, and defense against multiple
attackers are also sometimes practiced with higher level students.
Basic Goal of Aikido
The basic goal of Aikido is to defend oneself against an aggressor in the
most peaceful and least harmful way possible.
Major Aikido Substyles
Many substyles of Aikido have emerged over the years. Below are some of the
- Iwama Ryu.
- Ki Society.
- Kobayashi aikido.
- Manseikan Aikido.
- Shodokan Aikido.
- Suenaka-ha Tetsugaku-ho Wadokai Aikido.
- Yoseikan Aikido.
- Yoshinkan Aikido.
Three Famous Aikido Figures
- Steven Seagal: Seagal is a 7th dan black belt in aikido and was the
first foreigner to operate a dojo in Osaka. Later, Seagal moved back to
Japan and eventually made his film debut in 1988 in Above the Law. He went
on to star in other popular films like Hard to Kill, Marked for Death, and
Under Siege. Seagal's movies have netted over 850 million dollars worldwide.
- Kisshomaru Ueshiba: The third child of Morihei Ueshiba, Kisshomaru
became the international leader of aikido when his father died. This made
him the second doshu, or "keeper of the way" for the art. Kisshomaru played
a large part in bringing aikido to the rest of the world.
- Moriteru Ueshiba: Son of the now deceased Kisshomaru, Moriteru is the
third doshu of aikikai.
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