Aikido (合気道, aikidō?) is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba during the 1920’s as a development of other martial arts he had studied. Aikido is often translated as “the Way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the Way of harmonious spirit.” Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This conflict resolution focused philosophy is also encouraged outside of training. A skilled practitioner uses very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using precise turning and body movement. The techniques are completed with a variety of throws or joint locks. Aikido can be categorised under the general umbrella of grappling arts, along with Judo, Ju jutsu (Jiu jutsu) and MMA.

The main difference between Aikido and martial arts likes like Kung Fu, Karate, Taekwondo, Kali, MMA etc is that there is no competitive element.  Aikido is a traditional Budo (“martial Way”) that focuses upon self-improvement rather than competitive success.

In the 1970’s, Kung Fu was popular around the world, mainly due to the movies of Bruce Lee. Sports like Judo, Taekwondo, Boxing and Wrestling have all been included in the Olympic games and have benefitted from the subsequent exposure. Aikido has a huge following in countries like New Zealand, Australia, France, USA and UK, although Aikido’s more traditional budo approach has meant that in many regions of the world it is only practised by a select few who have actively sought out the art and the unique benefits it has to offer.  

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