What is Aikido?

Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平, December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969) was a martial artist and founder of the modern Japanese martial art of Aikido. He is often referred to as "the founder" Kaiso (開祖) or Ōsensei(大先生/翁先生), "Great Teacher". Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training but as an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. He developed aikido primarily during the late 1920s to the 1930s based on the older martial arts that he had studied.

Today, the largest aikido organization is the Aikikai Foundation, which remains under the control of the Ueshiba family. However, aikido has many styles, mostly formed by Morihei Ueshiba's major students. These major styles of aikido are each run by a separate governing organization, have their own headquarters (本部道場 Hombu dōjō), and have an international breadth.

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 techniques consist of entering and turning movements that redirect the momentum of an opponent's attack, and a throw or joint lock that terminates the technique.

The word "aikido" is formed of three kanji:

  • 合 – ai – unifying, joining, harmony

  • 気 – ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale

  • 道 – dō – way, the path


Therefore, from a purely literal interpretation, aikido is the "Way of combining forces", in that the term Aiki refers to the martial arts principle or tactic of blending with an attacker's movements for the purpose of controlling their actions with minimal effort. One applies Aiki by understanding the rhythm and intent of the attacker to find the optimal position and timing to apply a counter-technique