What is aikido? Despite its many perceived forms, aikido is a Budo or martial arts. It is the refinement of the techniques that are being taught in traditional martial arts and is combined with a philosophy that calls on for the power of the spirit. In its essence, it is a blending of the body and the mind. Its philosophy is basically derived from the belief that deceptions and trickery or brute force will not make us defeat our opponents. Instead, concentration that involves the spirit will be enough to strengthen us. Aikido is also used as a way to discover our true paths so that we can develop our individuality. It also teaches its practitioners to unify their body and their mind so that they will become in harmony with the "universe" and with nature. Their power and their strength will come from this balance and harmony. The word "universe" in aikido is not some obscure concept that one cannot achieve. It is actually quite concrete and is even within the grasp of the person. In aikido, "universe" can be achieved through actual experiences and everyday life. Aikido's movements and techniques are circular. When a circle is created in aikido, the person is said to be protected from a collision from an opposing force. A firm center, however, is needed to create this circle. An example of a firm circle is a spinning top that turns at fast speed. Without a firm center, the speed of movement will only create imbalance. The stillness of the spinning top while in speeding motion is what is called sumikiri in Aikido language. This is achieved only by what Aikido founder calls "total clarity of mind and body." However, this is not so easily achieved. It takes a long time of study and practice in order to find this intense concentration and centeredness. Training is important in aikido as well as concentration because while it may be easy to create a centered being when inside a martial arts gym, the same cannot be said of situations and circumstances outside. It will not be easy to keep one's composure when faced with extraordinary circumstances. This is actually one of the goals of Aikido training. It aims to teach its practitioners to maintain their composure and their centeredness even in panic situations such as danger and calamities. One method taught in aikido is to breathe with what is called the seika tanden point. This is the part of the body that can be found two inches below the navel. Controlled breathing is one key to being one with the universe and to center oneself with nature. When a person learns to do this, he or she will feel extraordinary calmness that they can use in the practice of aikido. Knowing the basics of Aikido Aikido is one of the oldest form of martial arts. Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, aikido came about through the studies of many different kinds of traditional martial arts. In fact, is often perceived as a form of exercise or a dance because of some of its forms. It is also viewed by some quarters as some form of martial mesmerism. Aikido is even confused with Daito Ryu Aikijutsu, it is different in its essence. Still, its founder attributed his creation of aikido to the way, his master Sokaku Takeda, grandmaster of Daito Ryu, opened his eyes to the nature of Budo. The Hard Style Aikido Within the world of Aikido a variety of styles exists. The major ones include Aikikai, Yoshinkan Yoseikan, Shodokan Aikido, Ki Society and Iwama. Aikikai is a style led by O-sensei's decendants and remains to be the largest Aikido organization. Meanwhile, Yoshinkan was founded by Gozo Shioda and is known for its rigid practice of being precise or accurate. The Shodokan Aikido use to train with sparring and rule based competitions. The Ki Society in the meantime focuses on special training or programs for developing the ki. The Iwama style gives more attention to integration of weapon and barehand techniques. These are just a few of the major schools of Aikido. Let us focus on one: the Yoshinkan style. Gozo Shioda, like most of the founders of the major Aikido schools, was a student of O-sensei or Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido. Most of the students of O-sensei built their own schools of Aikido based on their understandings on the teachings and basic principles of Aikido that O-sensei taught them. Shioda's Aikido Yoshinkan focuses on the basics of Aikido. The six basic movements or the kihon dosa are taught repeatedly to Yoshinkan students. Students of this style spend a considerable time of their training regimen repeating basic movements in Aikido techniques. However, outside observers sometimes view Yoshinkan Aikidokas or those that practices Aikido as having too automatic or too rigid movements because of their strict adherence to the techniques and in the correct execution of each movement. This is why Yoshinkan is sometimes referred to as the "hard-style". Yoshinkan Aikidokas will practice the basics in the form of solo movements called kata. Nevertheless, as Yoshinkan Aikidokas gain more experience, their movements become more fluid and will eventually develop spontaneity of techniques. Another distinguishing factor in Yoshinkan is the positioning of the Aikidoka's feet and hips. In other Aikido styles, the Aikidoka would position their body in such a way that the front foot is pointing straight forward while the back foot is at 90 degree angle to the front. The hips meanwhile are a bit to the side. This position is called kamae. For Yoshinkan Aikidokas on the other hand, the basic or normal stance involves square hips with the front foot angled slightly out. Training under the Yoshinkan Aikido means repeatedly practicing some 150 basic techniques until you get exactly the correct execution of each movement or technique. Mastering each and every technique will lead Aikidokas to master the remaining 3,000. Unlike other styles, Yoshinkan does not study any weapon forms and only practices with weapons as part of the Aikido's open hand techniques particularly in the areas of defense movements against weapon bearing opponents. Also, Yoshinkan Aikido does not participate in competitions. The focus of Shioda's Aikido is self defense. It was Robert Twigger who made Yoshinkan Aikido popularized through his book Angry White Pyjamas. Twigger, a British travel writer and adventurer, detailed in his book the strict and more often gruesome training course that he had to endure when he signed up to an 11-month program intended to train Yoshinkan instructors. Twigger's description of rigorous and agonizing training routines earned him a whole bunch of criticisms from the martial arts community. Nevertheless, he did receive some praise for relaying the realistic view of his experience with Yoshinkan Aikido. Weapons in Aikido Aikido is one of the traditional forms of martial arts that combine both the body and the mind. It does not only emphasize the use of physical skills but also the spirituality of practitioners and those who wish to learn the art. Aikido is a technique that incorporates moves that are more defensive than offensive. In fact, it seeks not to injure but to prevent or stop a person. This is perhaps why there is rarely a weapon used in the sport. The martial arts is made up mostly of movements and techniques. Still, there are some, who are already advanced, that go into weapons training. Weapons that are used in aikido are the tanto, the wooden jo and the bokken. Often, techniques in taking weapons from opponents and keeping the weapon practitioners are using are taught. More than specific weapons, practitioners of aikido rely mostly on the moves that they are being taught with. Their mastery of these movements are their weapons against people who wish to do them harm. Below is a rundown of the movements and techniques taught in aikido. Ikkyo This is the most basic movement in aikido. In fact, it is the first to be taught. Ikkyo makes use of control in the grip by applying hand grip on the elbow and near the wrist. The grip can apply pressure on the ulnar, a medial portion of the arm. Atemi Atemi are feints or strikes that are used as attacks against the vital points o the body. This movement is meant to cause much damage; so it is rarely being used in aikido. Still, if there is a need, one can use atemi in fighting your way out of brawls. It can also be used as a form of distraction. Atemis can take your opponent by surprise and break his concentration by providing a startling incident. When used the right way, it can also ruin your opponent's balance, which can provide an opportunity for you to strike or to run away. Another form of strikes that can be used in aikido is the kick. This is however not used as often. Aikido does not encourage the use of kicks because injuries brought on by these kinds of movements may be too dangerous. Also, kicks are not so common in feudal Japan, where aikido originated. Here are some forms of strikes that are often used. face-thrust - Although the aikido name, Ganmen-tsuki, can be quite complicated, it is basically a punch directed to the face. Front-face - Called Shomenuchi in aikido language, it is characterized by a vertical knife strike to the head of the opponent. Side-face - Also termed Yokomenuchi, this strike is done by making a diagonal knife-hand strike at the side of the neck or the side of the head of the opponent. Chest-thrust - Called Mune-tsuki, this is basically a punch to the torso, targeting the chest, the solar plexus and the abdomen Attacks Although attacks are basically not encouraged in the study of aikido, teachers still see the need for it should circumstances warrant a more offensive technique. One example of an attack used in aikido is the immobilizing grab, which is often used when opponents wield weapons. Grabs This is one of the most basic techniques in aikido. It is considered safer and easier to do. It is a technique used to free one's hand, rid your opponents' of their weapon or to immobilize a person. Aikido Secrets Everyone Should Know When an attacker is approaching, the person only has a split second to decide whether to dodge or block the move of the opponent. There is no point thinking about what this happened in the first place but the concern now is just to stop it. In a fight, the person can make a counter attack in the hopes that the individual will be subdued. There is another way of course without resorting to force, which is the technique one can learn in aikido. Aikido is a martial art in which the person blocks the moves of an opponent by using the hands. Anyone who wants to learn it will not be able to move as fast as Steven Segal in one of his action films but still be effective in combat. This martial art cannot be learned by merely watching others do it in the movies or in television. There are some who even show the step by step process in a magazine but nothing still compares to learning it from a Sensei. The person must first become a student in order to be called a master. This means learning the basic rules from entering the dojo until the class is over. The person will surely feel some pain after falling down a few times on the mat but this is not to torture the pupil. This is all part of the training, which the student must also do properly in order to move into the more advanced classes. One of the secrets is being able to know when to use it since timing is everything. There is a bit of hand to eye coordination just like in sports but here, the individual will merely redirect the same force back to that individual. Another secret in using aikido has to do with the wrist. The person should be smooth enough to put one hand over the opponents to be able to make the technique work and counter the attack. It takes a certain amount of energy to be able to perform certain moves. The individual will learn the various breathing exercises that will increase the heart rate and slow it down especially in the heat of the action. The student should bear in mind that the breathing exercises also serves as a unifying force between the physical and the emotional aspect of the person. The most important secret in mastering aikido is being consistent with the technique. The arms will surely feel heavy after some time or a certain amount of energy is drained after a few moves. By being able to do the same thing despite these difficulties, anyone can truly be called a true martial artist. People who want to check on how well one is doing can sign up for Tomiki Aikido. This is a competition held by various clubs in which the student will compete among some of the best in the country. Those who do well here can move up to the next skill level just like in karate where a student moves from one belt to another. If after many years, that student has learned all the secrets that go with aikido, this is the only time one can be called a master and even open a dojo. A Basic Guide to Aikido Aikido is a unique form of martial art. Its emphasis lies on the harmonious fusion of mind and body with the natural laws of Nature. Aikido focuses on accepting and respecting the energy of life and nature and channeling this harmony onto techniques that expresses this energy in physical forms. Aikido is often viewed as more of a defensive martial art since its techniques and teachings are designed for you to avoid or get out of trouble. On the contrary, Aikido's techniques are very powerful and effective. Basically, there are four levels of technique in Aikido training. These are the katai which refers to the basic training and is intended to build the foundation of body movements and breathing; the yawarakai trains the defendant to deflect attacks and fuse movements to take control of the attacker or situation; the ki-no-nagare which involves training the defendant to defend or counter attack by merging his movement with the attacker even before the latter makes contact; and the ki which is the absolute Aikido technique and involves establishing a link of ki or spirit from the defender to the attacker. When training for Aikido, you need a sparring partner. The uke and the nage. The Uke is the initiator of the attack and receives the Aikido techniques, while the Nage is the defender and the one that neutralizes the attack. Aikido basic techniques include ikky which involves control an attacker by placing one hand on the elbow and one on near the wrist giving an opportunity to throw the attacker to the ground; the niky which draws in the uke using a wristlock and twists the arm while applying painful nerve pressure; sanky which is a rotating technique aimed at applying a spiraling tension on the whole arm including the elbow and shoulder; yonky a shoulder control technique with both hands gripping the forearm; goky is another variant of ikky wherein the hand gripping the wrist is inverted and is quite useful in weapon take-aways; shihnage or the four-direction throw; kotegaeshi or wrist return which involves a wristlock-throw that stretches the extensor digitorum; kokynage also known as breath throws or timing throws; iriminage or entering-body throws which resembles a "clothesline" technique; tenchinage or heaven-and-earth throw; koshinage or the Aikido's version of the hip throw; jinage or the shaped-like- 'ten'-throw; and kaitennage or rotation throw wherein the nage sweeps the arm of the uke back until it locks the shoulder joint after which the nage applies forward pressure to throw the attacker. These are just basic techniques and from the list thousands of possible implementations or combinations can be drawn by the aikidokas. In Aikido, the strikes employed during the implementation of the Aikido technique are called atemi. For beginners, grabs are the first ones to be taught. It is safer and the aikidoka can easily feel the energy flowing from the uke to the nage. Among the basic grab techniques are the katate-dori or single-hand-grab which involves using one hand to grab one wrist; morote-dori or both- hands-grab which uses both hands to grab one wrist; ryte-dori another both-hands-grab technique wherein both hands are used to grab both wrists; kata-dori or the shoulder-grab technique; and the mune-dori or chest-grab which involves grabbing the clothing of the chest of the attacker. Mastering each technique involves discipline and dedication. To be a good aikodoka, one must master both the techniques and principle of the marital art. Tips in choosing an aikido school Aikido is one of the oldest and most widely-used martial arts forms in the world. It is being taught for centuries as a form of self-defense and protection. It is also a way for people to learn centeredness and balance in their lives. Aikido is a martial arts form that requires constant practice and dedicated study for it does not only teach you self-defense, it also teaches you discipline. A good aikido training school is needed to achieve this. This is the reason why it is important for you to find a school that will not only teach you the basics but will also nurture your budding talent. Here are some tips in choosing a good aikido school. Go for the recommended ones Although all aikido training schools will be teaching the same set of tricks and techniques, there are schools that will give you better training. One way to look for good aikido schools is to ask around your neighborhood or among your friends and acquaintances. They are great sources because not only will they be able to provide you with names that are located in a place convenient to you, they will also be able to give you first hand information on the teaching method of the school. In fact, they can even give you tips and advice on aikido training. Another way is to ask martial arts teachers. Even if they are not teaching aikido, they will know people who teach aikido and will be able to recommend good ones. There are also forums over the internet where you can post your questions. Members of the site or those that frequently read the forums will surely answer. Chances are they will know a good aikido school that is near your house. Forums like these are very effective because members are mostly aikido or martial arts buffs who know the business and will surely know what they are talking about. Look for one that is near In addition to the training, you will also need to find a school that is near your house or your place of work. Location is important in giving you the drive. Places that are far from your place will only result in frequent absenteeism, which is not good for your training. Another advantage that near locations provide is the fact that it gives you the chance to urge friends or family members to come with you and also be interested in the martial art form. Teacher and mentor Before enrolling in a program, make sure that you got to meet and talk to the teacher. Although it may seem unimportant, it is vital to also be attuned and in harmony with the teacher of aikido as he or she will not only be teaching you aikido basics but also your mentor in your life. Learning Aikido by watching Aikido video Among the various martial arts that have emerged over the years, Aikido is one of those that continue to gather more practitioners. Simply because more and more people believe that martial arts should not instigate attacks but should place great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement especially of the opponents' and use it against him or her. Having the basic principle of "not fighting force with force," aikido has become popular and has been practiced in different parts of the globe today. AIKIDO TEACHINGS CAUGHT ON TAPE If you are interested in learning aikido but do not have the time to attend classes in dojos or you are short of cash to enroll in an aikido class, then purchasing an aikido video would be suitable for you. By buying several aikido videos, you can learn the basic principles of martial arts. You can even learn the different aikido techniques and practice these in the comfort of your own place. Here are some of the most popular and reliable aikido videos available today. 1. The Essential Teachings of Aikido. This aikido video features Hikitsuchi Michio Sensei, 10th Dan, as he continues his life-long dedication to the "direct transmission" of Aikido he learned first-hand from the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei Osensei. This aikido video is a three-volume videotape series that is professionally produced with English-language voice-over. Shot entirely on location at the Aikido Kumano Juku Dojo in Shingu, Japan, individual tape includes point-by-point technical instruction, exciting demonstrations, and spirited discussions of the foundations of Aikido. Volume 1 features Hikitsuchi Sensei as he teaches how to practice "instantaneous aiki," while the Volume 2 shows Hikitsuchi Sensei teaching "kihon waza." A set of the Essential Teaching tapes can be bought at around $170-190. 2. The heart of Aikido Volume 1 to 3. This set also features Hikitsuchi Sensei as he demonstrates how the movements of Aikido stemmed from the workings of the sword and the staff. He also the "aiki bojutsu" he learned directly from Osensei. More than half of the tape is dedicated to the demonstration of numerous Aikido techniques. This autobiographical video can be bought at around $60-80. 3. Practical Aiki-Do -- Volume 1 to Volume 5. This series of aikido demonstrations is already in a DVD format. Compiled by Robert Koga, a former law enforcement instructor for LAPD and consultant for countless agencies in the US and across the globe, each individual volume is considered among the finest and most comprehensive works on Aikido. Here, Sensei Koga takes the audience beyond the theory of aikido and takes them into the real world of practical Aikido by teaching techniques that can be used in everyday real-life situations. Each tape ranges from 50 minutes up to 56 minutes of playing and priced at $29.95 each. 4. Morihei Ueshiba: King of Aikido, Tape 1 to Tape 2. This series is also available in DVD format. The tape 1 and tape 2 of Morihei Ueshiba: King of Aikido present exciting historic video and features spectacular 1930s "pre-war" footage of aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. These tapes contain interesting collection of O-Sensei's technique demonstrations. Playing time ranges from 60 to 65 minutes and can be bought at $24.95 each. 5. Aikido. This aikido video comes in DVD format. Compiled by Patricia Guerri, Aiki Bukikai 6th Dan, this video will lead the audience to the mastery of Aikido weapons. This aikido video comes on different languages such as French, English, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Arabian, and Hebrew. It also divided into chapters, interactive menus, making of, photo gallery, certificates, and trailers as its Special Features. Playing time is approximately 85 minutes and can be bought in $29.95. Dressing Up to Train Like all martial arts or sports for that matter, Aikido has their own set of uniforms. The aikidogi or the uniform used in aikido is similar to the keikogi used in most martial arts. Keikogi is a term used to refer to uniform for training. This is a general term used to refer to uniforms of donned for traditional martial arts class. For Aikido it's the aikidogi, for Judo it's judogi, for Jiujitsu it's the jujutsugi, karategi for Karate, kendogi for kendo and the shinobi-iri and shinobi shozoku for Ninjutsu arts. The training uniforms used in martial arts are often times referred to as mere gi or dogi. The aikid?gi consists of simple trousers and a white jacket or uwagi or upper garment. For aikidogi, wraparound jackets used in judo and karate are acceptable. Judo jackets are thicker and are built for durability since in judo the jacket receives considerable stress from the techniques like seizing and throwing. For aikidokas, judo jackets might be advisable since some Aikido techniques also involve some keikogi grabbing which could tear the cloth during practice. Sometimes, aikido uniforms are customized to handle precisely the stress in some techniques. Although, personalized or specialized aikodogis are uncommon. If you do find keikogi specially made for Aikido training, you'll notice that the gi has reinforced kneepatches. The jacket is also a little longer around the waist which allows the aikidoka to easily tuck them to their hakama. The Aikdo jacket might also have shorter sleeves since basic techniques of Aikido focuses on wrist grabs and twists. The uwagi might be made from heavyweight tightly woven terrycloth which is similar to uwagi of Judo or from heavy canvas similar to karategi. Regardless, both are strong enough to withstand the regular grappling and throwing found in Aikido training. Aside from the trousers and wraparound jackets, Aikido schools also add hakama, which looks like a dress or skirt, to the uniform. The concept behind wearing a hakama is to be able to hide the movements of the feet. The hakama is commonly black or indigo in color and are usually reserved for aikidokas that have received the dan rank. In Aikido, most of the styles or schools use the ky?/dan ranking system which is the norm in the martial arts world. However, each style has different qualifications for meeting each rank and each style might use colored belts for ky? levels while others do not. In some schools the hakama is worn by all students regardless of rank. While in other styles, only female aikidokas are required to wear them. When buying for first aikidogi it is important to make sure that the size and fit is right. Uniforms that are too small will constrict your movements while too big a size will get in the way of executing techniques. As mentioned before, in Aikido you'll get considerable pulling, stretching, sliding, jumping and throwing thus the need for a set of uniform that will not easily tear from the regular training routine. Double stitched uniforms are usually stronger and will handle the stress. Extra knee padding is also a plus. However, do remember that these things cost a little extra but its all worth it since you'll be having a uniform that will lasts longer. This is definitely better than buying a new one every time you tear it up during training. Practicing the Art of Peace Aikido is a modern martial art that is founded by spirituality and philosophy influenced by the Omoto-kyo religion associated with the Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba. The etymology of the word Aikido stems from three Japanese characters. "Ai" literally means joining, with "ki" meaning something like spirit, and "do" meaning way. Loosely translated then, the meaning of Aikido is the way of joining the spirit. The Aikido way is to align body and mind with the spirit or ki and it said that the only way to be able to do this is through cultivating a relaxed state. It is in this relaxed state that nothing is forced or contrived so the mind and body naturally join the spirit or energy and everything becomes one. It is this oneness and cultivation of relaxation that this martial art paradoxically gets referred to as the art of peace.Its founder Ueshiba was a pacifist and it is said that he taught Aikido as a peaceful means to end aggression. Although spiritual and philosophical development is important in Aikido training, it has to be put to practical means and examples in actual practice of Aikido techniques and methods.Aikido training usually consists of two parties. The first is called uke or the receiving body and the other is known as nage (although this term varies depending on the Aikido style being taught) who gives the technique being taught. This concept of uke and nage can be likened to the Chinese yin and yang because in Aikido, uke and nage are not separate entities. They are two parts of one where the Aikido training can be learned with give and take from both parties.For instance, one of the first techniques taught in Aikido training is how to throw and fall safely. It is the task of nage to prevent injury to uke so he can learn to land safely when thrown. Furthermore, in Aikido training, the receiver or uke usually initiates an attack against the nage whose aim is to neutralize the assault with an Aikido move or technique.This way, both the uke and nage learn from each other and the Aikido training is not successfully executed without oneness between the two. It is in the give and take of these two entities in Aikido training that the principles of ki and other fundamentals of Aikido techniques are learned. Such fundamentals are the principles of adapting, flexibility, calmness and blending. In the case of uke and nage, Aikido training teaches uke to be more flexible and relaxed so that nage will not be able to catch them unaware and throw them off balance. On the other hand, nage learns to blend and adapt to be able to control and assuage the assaulting energy from uke.Aikido training however is not exclusive to practice and parries between just two parties. In fact, Aikido training involves instruction for multiple attackers. This is called randori and is a vital and required lesson to be learned in higher levels of Aikido training. The Aikido training for multiple attacks is done "freestyle" where a person can further expand their knowledge by practicing and performing Aikido techniques beyond the structured environment of the uke and nage. These are only two methods of Aikido training. There are many other training methods and techniques that follow the core value of Aikido. Defending Oneself Using Nothing But Aikido Tomiki Imagine walking home late at night when suddenly a group of people come out of nowhere and begin to surround you. The individual can cry out for help in the hopes that the locals will offer assistance or just give the money and hope that the hoodlums will leave after that. But what if these people want more just than the money in the bag? The use of pepper spray or mace can probably knock two of the individuals out but something better is needed for proper defense. A good example is learning a martial art and if the person does not want to inflict that much damage, then aikido is the way to go. What is aikido? This is a Japanese martial art just like Judo or Karate that uses primarily the arms to block offensive moves and then redirect it back with the same force to the opponent. It is like catching a ball with one hand and then returning it back to another player. The moves are very fast which will surely amaze anyone who has seen one of Steven Segal's action movies. Aikido unlike other martial arts has been around since the 1930's. As more students learned from the man who invented it, a number of dojo's both in Japan and in other parts of the world were formed. This has also led to the development of different techniques in Aikido such as Aikikai, Yoshinkan and Yoseikan. Practicing with a sparring partner and doing drills in the dojo is nothing compared to actual combat. This is the reason that the best way to stay in shape is to participate in a competition better known as Tomiki Aikido. Aikido unlike other martial arts has not yet taken center stage in the Olympics. However, there are regular competitions organized by university clubs and local dojos in the community. The competition just like in Karate, Tae Kwan Do or Judo is between two people. The player who successfully strikes the other opponent gets earns a point. Aikido is a martial art that can be learned by almost anyone regardless of gender or age. All the person has to do is signup in a dojo, learn the basics and then practice regularly to develop better skills. The individual may not get it right the first time or fall more often than others but everyone had to undergo the same thing in order to become a better fighter. When the person is ready, it wouldn't hurt to participate in Tomiki Aikido, which is held monthly in different states. The person should just see if there is anything on the bulletin board or online since certain clubs also announce such events on the web. Aikido is primarily for defensive purposes. There are no sharp offensive punches or kicks normally associated with other martial arts. It can prepare anyone both physically and mentally to respond to various situations. Self defense is something everyone needs to learn. Having a small knife or pepper spray can help bit if the odds are too many, then it is time to use hand to hand combat. An attack may not happen tomorrow or one week from now but the skills learned in Aikido will come in handy to be able to defend oneself against criminal elements and stop becoming a victim. The dynamics of Aikido's techniques Due to the dynamic nature of Aikido, most experts say that there are no definite "styles" or "techniques" in practicing the martial art. After the development of aikido by Morihei Ueshiba, called "O Sensei," many students were inspired to train under his tutelage. After their training, the Great Teacher encouraged his students to put up their own dojos so they can spread the tenets of his martial art. Aside from encouraging them to set up dojos and share the knowledge he taught, he also inspired them to develop their own styles and interpretations as long as these techniques adhere to the basic principle of aikido, "not fighting force with force." The aikido founder reiterates this principle over and over again because the techniques of aikido, when applied without care, can damage or kill instead of diverting or immobilizing the opponent. With the emergence of various dojos all over the world, more and more techniques were born. Despite the differences in techniques in various dojos, there is a set of the common techniques in which almost all dojos use. Each of this technique is carefully taught to the student so he or she can discover its strengths and weaknesses. Although most people say that there should be no superior or inferior technique, only the student or the individual practicing it can truly tell which technique works well for him or her. Here is a list of the most common aikido techniques practiced by almost all aikido practitioners in dojos today: 1. "Ikkyo". Also known as the "first technique," ikkyo refers to the control exercised using only one hand on the elbow and the other one on near the wrist that leverages "uke" to the ground. This technique uses a grip that can apply pressure into the ulnar nerve on the medial side of the person's arm. 2. "Nikyo". This is referred to as the "second technique." Nikyo involves the use of an adductive wristlock that loops the arm while applying painful nerve pressure. 3. "Sankyo". This is also called the "third technique." Sankyo is known as a "pronating" technique that directs upward-spiraling pressure throughout the person's arm, elbow, and shoulder. 4. "Yonkyo". Is also popular as the "fourth technique." Just like iikkyo, yonko is also a shoulder control but with requires the use of both hands in gripping the forearm. The practitioner's knuckles - usually from the palm side - are applied to the opponent's radial nerve against the forearm bone. 5. "Gokyo". This refers to a variant of ikkyo where the hand that grips the wrist is inverted. Also known as the "fifth technique," gokyo is common in tanto and other weapon take-aways. 6. "Shihonage". Here, the practitioner's hand is folded back past the shoulder and locks the shoulder joint. This aikido technique is also called the "four-direction throw." 7. "Kotegaeshi". This is popularly called the "wrist return." This aikido technique is a characterized by a supinating wristlock-throw, which stretches the person's extensor digitorum. 8. "Kokyunage". In English, this is translated to "breath throw." This term is coined for various types of flowing "timing throws" in duration of any aikido session. 9. "Iriminage". For aikido practitioners, this is known as the "entering-body throw" or throws where "nage" moves through the space occupied by "uke." This is considered as a classic form that resembles the "clothesline" technique. 10. "Tenchinage". A.k.a. the "heaven-and-earth throw." This technique involves the "uke" grabbing both wrists of the "nage." Moving forward, the nage sweeps one hand low ("earth") and the other high ("heaven"), so he or she can unbalance the uke. Aikido Weaponry is All About Techniques Aikido is a kind of martial arts which is often considered as modern Japanese budo. This martial art's emphasis is on the spiritual and philosophical development of one's self. The word "Aikido" basically means "The Way of Harmony with the Spirit." It is the study of the natural laws and how they harmonize with the mind and body. Aikido is encompassing. You will be taught to use both armed and unarmed forms of combat and self defense. For unarmed attacks, you have at your disposal a variety of throws, strikes, joint-lock techniques, vital points and even those so-called mystery attacks wherein you attack the opponent without laying a hand on him or her. Meanwhile, armed attacks involve the use of every kind of weapon imaginable. From swords to knives, from sticks to spears, practically everything can be utilized in Aikido as a weapon. However, in general most Aikido classes are conducted with exclusive training with the use of the jo or staff, tanto or knife and the bokken or sword. These three serve as the main weapons used in Aikido. Even though Aikido appears to be using more unarmed forms and techniques of martial arts, there are a couple of reasons why weapons are studied in Aikido classes and training sessions. Aikido has a strong weapon martial arts foundation and any training with weapons will only reinforce the basic techniques of the martial art. Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba, known to his students and Aikido practitioners as ?-sensei which means Great Teacher, was particularly skilled with the staff. He was able to integrate weapon techniques with basic Aikido movements. But among the multitude of weapons out there the sword has the most influence on the development stages of Aikido techniques. Through weapons training, an Aikido practitioner will be able to measure the distance between attacks. Also called ma-ai, the proper distancing is very important in timing an attack and defending one. And speaking of defense, weapons training is also necessary since advanced Aikido techniques involve defending against people bearing all sorts of weapons. In order to practice each advanced move safely, Aikido practitioners needed to be familiar with each weapons' capabilities. Therefore, with Aikido weapons training, one will be able to develop his skills, intuitiveness and reflexes in both attacking and defending movements. Among the weapons used in Aikido weapons training include the katana, the single edged, slightly curved sword famous in the world as the sword of the samurai. In Aikido weapons training, you will also be taught to handle, hold, fight and defend using the tanto which in actuality is a knife or a short blade. The tanto was also extremely popular amongst the men and women who lived by the samurai code during their time. Another bladed weapon used in Aikido weapons training is the ninja-to. The ninja-to are swords used by those mysterious ninjas. Samurais back then also have wakizashi swords at their disposal. Wakizashi are usually two feet long and are paired with the katana. The j? meanwhile is a four-foot long wooden staff used by not only Aikido but by other martial artists as well. When Aikido techniques are fused with jo, the principle is called aiki-j? which involves an integration of Aikido techniques in Aikido which uses the j? to illustrate Aikido's principles with a weapon. The Relaxed Martial Art Traditionally, martial art systems were created as a documented practice of training for combat mode in the ancient eras. Naturally, its modern day applications are primarily for self-defense, exercise and physical fitness. One form of martial arts however stands out from the rest in the sense that it espouses a relaxed way of life over cunning and physical strength. At the heart of it, the Aikido spirit is about cultivating relaxation and a serenity throughout everyday life to be able to harness this virtue in actual physical combat. Aikido is actually a modern Japanese martial art and the Aikido spirit continues to live on today years after it was developed by Morihei Eushiba between 1920 to 1960. Noteworthy about this particular martial art is that the Aikido spirit is cultivated within its students so that there is a spiritual and philosophical development that happens; which in turn becomes the basis of the combative art. Modern day students of Aikido testify that they bring the Aikido spirit with them throughout ordinary mundane activities, forming a bridge between principles of how to tackle everyday life and combat moves on the training mat. This spiritual and philosophical basis of the Aikido spirit that cultivates relaxation and the peaceful control of aggression, is attributed to the founder's background in Omoto-kyo religion. Omoto-kyo is a modern Japanese religion, which is said to be an offshoot of Shintoism. Omoto-kyo followers believe in beautifying the world with art because they believe that art brings humans closer to the divine. Aside from this however, the Omoto-kyo followers are pacifists who espouse peace over war. This is the parallel between Omoto-kyo and Aikido. That is why the Aikido spirit is often paradoxically referred to as the art of peace. One may wonder about the sanity behind the fact that a martial art which was in all intentions created for combat and winning over the enemy can indeed to be claim to the art of peace. For all intents and purposes however, the philosophical and spiritual foundation of Aikido is about maintaining a constant state of relaxation. It is in this relaxed state that the Aikido practitioner is able to perform difficult throws and maneuvers as taught by the martial art. The relaxed state can be attributed to a deep unshakable peace free of aggression. The concept is that when we are tense and not relaxed, we needlessly waste energy on aggression and force. By going with the flow and not being afraid of what can or cannot happen to us, we cultivate a peace with a relaxed demeanor as its direct consequence. The Aikido spirit aims to cultivate a mental discipline, develop character and self-confidence with the end goal of being able to maintain peace and relaxation. It believes that in peace can one realize true power: The power to spread peace further and the strength to be able to withstand the onslaught of everyday situations. The basics in passing on the Aikido spirit can be done through practical applications that clearly show that a relaxed demeanor is more effective than an aggressive one. One such physical example is the exercise of trying to cause someone to lose their balance. To be able to topple off an opponent usually means that we should be physically stronger and in some cases larger so that superior physical strength through muscle contraction is the traditional measure of victory.
Scheduling Getting a good schedule is another crucial point in getting a good aikido training. Look for schools that offer the schedule that you want. Remember that the time that you will be training is also important because it will determine your readiness for the lesson. If your schedule is not the right fit, you will only feel tired and uninspired during the training, something which is not good when learning aikido as it asks for your total commitment and passion to the task. Founding Principles of Aikido Aikido means "The Way of Harmony with the Spirit" and is considered a non-violent form of martial art. However, don't be fooled. Aikido when used correctly is very powerful often are able to block and neutralize strong attacks and counter them with an equal force. Morihei Ueshiba, now known as O-sensei to the world of Aikido, founded the martial art. O-sensei is a master of Jujitsu or unarmed combat, Kinjitsu or sword combat, and sojitsu or spear combat and studied philosophical and religious teachings. Because of the religious and philosophical foundations of Aikido, principles of the martial art include ways to harmonize with the ki or spirit within oneself and the bigger spirit of nature. Among the principles of Aikido include oneness, circular motion and ki. Among the philosophical teachings of Aikido, one of the more basics and more important is learning to control oneself. Maintaining an inner balance is necessary to harmonize with others enabling to control an opponent's attack or applying an effective technique. Self-control is the key to achieve and maintain harmony. The Principle of Oneness is another basic principle in Aikido. An aikidoka must learn to become one with any situation. Becoming one means having an attitude of respect for all things and situations, friend or foe. By training to become one with every situation, harmonization will follow and it will become possible to execute Aikido techniques, movements and forms accurately and efficiently. Harmony also means synthesis. And the spiritual circle which is a foundation of all Aikido techniques synthesizes everything. Aikido is a combination of circular movements. Its techniques and movements revolve around the concept of circular motions. When an opponent attacks, the aikidoka uses a circular motion of the lower abdomen to control the attack and execute Aikido techniques to counterattack. It is said that defense is the greatest offense. In Aikido to defend properly an attack, one must learn to move away from the range of effectiveness of the opponent's attack. However, as you try to defend by getting out of the opponent's effective range, you must also try to maintain your own range of effectiveness in order to counterattack efficiently. You won't be able to give an effective counterattack if you stepped too far away from your opponent. Similarly, being too close would definitely lessen the effectiveness of your techniques. Everything will depend on the situation. As an Aikido practitioner, you must learn to determine how to avoid your opponent's range while controlling your own in various situations. Finally, the Principle of Ki involves believing that every thing in the universe is governed by a force or spirit. Ki is also the energy and our life force. Ki is the force that binds the mind and the body. It is the energy that harmonizes us to our surroundings. By learning to control our Ki, we will be able to unify our mind and our body maximizing efficient movements and execution of Aikido techniques. Aikido focuses on the distance, motion, speed, and projection of an attacker. By using blending, spiraling, and extension techniques, the attack will be neutralized and by using one's centeredness and hips, the same amount of force can be applied to the attacker. In Aikido, the spiraling and circular movements reflect what the martial art is: a fluid and flowing movement of spirit and energy. Using Aikido Moves in Practice or in Combat It only takes a split second whether someone comes out as a victor or a loser in combat. The person can try to remember it later on to see what errors were made in order to become a better fighter in the future. Such things also happen in competition which is why it is best for the student to be familiar with the various aikido moves at all times. For instance, in Ai hanmi Iriminage a person grabs the attacker by the neck and forces the opponent to the ground. In Ai hanmi Kokyuho, this is similar to the first with the difference of extending the arm a little farther in order to achieve maximum effect. Should the attacker have a knife, a good aikido move to use is called Katate Ryotemochi in which the individual uses both hands to block the weapon used by the attacker and disarming it before putting the person on the ground. If the individual is able to get behind the attacker, perhaps doing Ushiro Ryokatatori will be a good idea. This will allow the student to grab both shoulders of the person. Should the individual be tough, perhaps applying Ushiro Kubishime, which will temporarily cut the air supply until the assailant is unconscious, is the best thing to do. Not all the aikido moves being taught are just to block and the make the person fall to the ground. There are also striking moves such as Kata Menuchi in which the hand makes a slice to the middle of the forehead. Those who don't want to inflict a concussion can try Mune Tsuki, which is a strike to the chest. A good move for the leg is the Aiki Otoshi better known in English as a leg sweep. This will surely keep the person down especially when that attacker thinks that all the student can do is use the arms when defending. Once the attacker has been subdued, it will be safer to keep the attacker locked in a Sankyo hold. This technique is used by police, which is very useful when the police are on the way to the location. There are more than 10 different moves in Aikido. The person should be able to distinguish one from the other especially when the terms are all in Japanese. It will be the choice of the individual which one to use when one is engaged in combat. The first step in learning this martial art will be to enroll in a dojo. The person can look at the directory to find the nearest one to the home and then choose to sign up if the rates are affordable. The student will then be taught the rules, how to wear the uniform and then the proper moves in each stroke. The individual should not expect to get it right on the first day but eventually do better in the coming days. The person should remember that Aikido unlike other martial arts can only be used for defensive purposes. Usually when the suspect has failed in the attack, this person will run so the individual should not give chase but rather get help. It is only with practice sparring with a partner or even doing the same thing in competition that both the mind and the body can be conditioned to engage an attacker in combat. The Underlying Principle of Everything In quantum physics, one of the foremost theories that promises to revolutionize how we see the world is the theory of strings. The main premise of this particular theory is that strings are the most basic structure that makes up everything we can and cannot see within the physical world. Strings of course is just a word to label this most profound substance that theoretical physicists say dictate everything we see, perceive and have in and around us in this physical world. Although no direct correlation has ever been claimed between string theory and that of the principles of ch'i prevalent in the East, they share the same premise in the most basic sense that it is said that there is a basic energy substance that underlie everything. In understanding the nature of this substance we are able to harness its power and utilize it. The concept of ch'i or qi in Chinese and ki in Japanese, is very much relative to the type of school that teaches it. Some say that ch'i is a force separate from matter as we know it. Some say that ch'i arises from matter. Still some say that matter arises from ch'i. What all schools have in common however is the fact that they all more or less say that ch'i is a fundamental energy that can be harnessed to bring power to oneself wither physically, mentally or spiritually. With all the different premises that try to explain ch'i, it is clear that mere instructions in words will not be able to fully expound on what ch'i is. Perhaps because of this, it is better to pass on the knowledge of ch'i through actual and practical instruction. One school that may be successful in being able to teach what the ch'i is and how to be able to use it for one's own benefit is Aikido. At the heart of the spirituality and philosophy or Aikido is the ki, which is similar or perhaps, one and the same with what is otherwise known as the ch'i or qi. Aikido's ki is the heart of the principle of this particular martial art. While technically, martial arts are means for combat and war, Aikido is often known as the art of peace because it espouses a peaceful means towards aggression. Aikido ki, like in other concepts of ch'i teaches that there is a fundamental energy that can be harnessed. Aikido ki being energy means that its substance is something that flows. The principle of peace and relaxation taught by Aikido presupposes the fact that the ki flows more smoothly and strongly when it is uninterrupted. A better illustration might be something like, if water is ki, then to harness its power, it must be allowed to flow to produce hydroelectric force. This is why in Aikido, ki energy comes from being relaxed. It is said that in the relaxed state, the flow of ki is better aided. Aikido as a martial art is not about muscle strength or superior physical attributes. It is really about relaxation, flexibility and stamina. This allows a smaller person to be able to topple and throw a larger opponent during practice. The beginnings of Aikido The name aikido is formed by the combination of three characters in the Japanese language. Ai, which means joining; ki, which means spirit and do, which means way. These three words actually summarize the essence of aikido as a form of martial art - the joining of the spirit to find the way. It was only in the period from 1930s to the 40s that the name aikido was officially accepted as the name of the martial arts form. Aikido uses techniques that do not damage or kill unlike other forms of martial arts. The movements and skills being taught are just meant to divert attention or immobilize people. This is perhaps the reason why most people prefer aikido, because of it's focus on peace and harmony as opposed to aggression and conflict. In fact, aikido developer Morihei Ueshiba believes that to control aggression without causing any injury is the art of peace. Ueshiba, who is also called Osensei, which means Great Teacher, created aikido from the principles of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu. He incorporated the techniques of the yari, the spear; the juken, which is a bayonet; and the jo, which is a short quarterstaff). But what ultimately separates aikido from other forms of martial arts is the fact that its practitioners can attack while empty-handed. Practitioners need no weapons for protection. As a young child, he was much into physical fitness and conditioning. This is because of his vow to avenge his father's death. Eventually, his studies and activities brought him to the discipline of the different martial arts. He studied all. He even has certificates, fencing, fighting with spears, etc. He has learned it all. This is perhaps the reason why aikido is such a diverse and multi-disciplinary form of martial arts. Yet despite his know how, he remains dissatisfied. He felt that there is still something missing. It was then that he turned to the religions. He studied under a spiritual leader, Onisaburo Deguchiof the sect Omoto- kyo in Ayabe. Deguchiof taught him to take care of his spiritual growth. He then combined his spiritual beliefs and his mastery of the different martial arts. Aikido was born. His association with this charismatic spiritual leader Deguchiof also paved the way for his introduction to the elite political and military people as a martial artist. Because of this connection, he was able to establish aikido and even transferred the teachings to students, who have in turn developed their own styles of movement in aikido. Aikido is a combination of the different styles of jujitsu as well as some of the techniques of sword and spear fighting, of which Ueshiba is an expert. To get an overall picture, aikido combines the joint locks and throws techniques of jujitsu and the movements of the body when fighting with sword and spears. Oriental in origin, it was brought to the west by Minoru Mochizuki when he visited France in 1951. He introduced the aikido techniques to students who are learning judo. In 1952, Tadashi Abe came to France as the official Aikikai Honbu representative. Then in 1953, Kenji Tomiki toured through the United States while Koichi Tohei stayed in Hawaii for a full year where he set up a dojo. Aikido then spread its influence in United Kingdom two years after and in 1965, it reached Germany and Australia. At present, aikido has centers all over the world. Fundamentals of aikido Aikido is martial arts that resulted from the combination of several disciplines. It was created by Ueshiba sometime in the 1940s. It was the result of Ueshiba's search for a technique that provided him with contentment not only in the technical sense but also in the spiritual end. Aikido comes from the three Japanese words, ai-ki-do, which means joining, spirit, and way respectively. In essence, aikido is a martial arts form that focuses on the joining of the spirit and the body and the mind to find the Way. Aikido has many techniques and moves. Its basic structure comes from the throws and locks found in jujitsu and also from the movements that experts do when they are fighting with swords and spears. Fundamental Techniques of aikido Let's look at the different fundamental movements of this martial arts. Ikkyo This is the first technique in aikido, where control is achieved by the use of the hand on the elbow and one near the wrist. This is the grip that is also that can apply pressure into the ulnar, which can be found in the medial portion of the arm. Nikyo This is the second of the techniques, which is characterized by an adductive wristlock that twists the arm and then applies pressure in the nerve that can be really painful. Sankyo This is the third technique that incorporates a pronating move. It directs an upward tension all through the arm, the elbow and the shoulder. Yonkyo The fourth installment in the fundamental movements of aikido, yonkyo uses a shoulder control movement similar to a ikkyo but this time there is no gripping of the forearm. Instead, the knuckles apply pressure on the radial nerve Gokyo The fifth technique is actually a variant of ikkyo. This time the hand gripping the wrist is inverted and twisted. Aikido protective moves Here are some of the moves that you can use in order to disarm your opponent. Kotogaeshi - this is what is called in the English as the wrist return. In this move, the practitioner will place a wristlock and throw that will stretch up to the extensor digitorum Iriminage - called the entering-body throw, here the practitioner or the nage will move into the space where the uke or the opponent is. This classic move resembles the clothesline technique. Kokyunage - this is the breath throw, a term that refers to the various types of "timing throws." Koshinage - this move is aikido's version of the hip throw where in the person will drop his hips a little lower than the opponent or the uke. He will then flip the opponent with a resultant fulcrum. Tenchinage - Called the heaven and earth throw because of the levels that the hands will reach. The uke or the practitioner will grab both wrists and then moves forwardm grabbing the hand low and the other high. This unbalances the uke, which will cause him or her to topple over. Shihonage- this is the four-direction throw, wherein the hand is folded back past the shoulders and then afterwards locking the joints in the shoulder Kaitennage- called the rotation throw, in kaitennage, the practitioner or the nage will move the arm backwards until the shoulder joints are locked. He will then use this position to add pressure. Jujinage- this is the throw that is characterized by a throw that locks the arms together. This is called shape like a 10 throw because of its cross-shape, which looks like 10 in kanji. Teaching, training, and exercising Aikido Since the development of Aikido from the hands of its founder Morihei Ueshiba, it has gone through drastic changes. From the technique, practice, purpose, teaching, and training, Aikido is being interpreted in so many ways. Despite these glaring changes, the basic principle of Aikido still remains: a martial art that aims to achieve peace and harmony without instigating attack and force. BEFORE YOU PRACTICE If you are into aikido and already been enrolled in one of the classes, you must familiarize yourself with everything that you need to know about the martial art. You must realize that the practice of aikido starts once you have entered the "dojo" or the place where demonstrations, teachings, and training take place. The aikido trainees are instructed and expected to exercise and observe proper etiquette at all times. Here are some guidelines for those you have just started exercising or training for aikido: 1. Attendance is important and a must. Indeed, the only way for you to improve in aikido is by attending regular classes and continuous training. Although attendance is not mandatory in most dojos, you better keep in mind that for you to learn and master aikido, you must be there when you have training so you wouldn't miss any of the aikido teachings and trainings. Most aikido practitioners suggest that for a student to advance in aikido, he or she should practice at least twice a week. Aside from not missing out something, attending aikido classes regularly can also help you cultivate self-discipline. 2. Make your training your own responsibility. Just like in any martial art training, Aikido requires attention and dedication from you. And since you are the one who is interested in learning the martial, you should also be the one in-charge of your own exercise and training. Once you have decided to practice Aikido, it is given that you should be the one who is responsible for your proficiency and improvement. Although instructors and senior students will be there to guide you, they wouldn't be the one responsible for your improvement. So if you really want to improve in this martial art, make sure that you observe effectively before asking for any help and that you try to learn the techniques on your own first before you partake in any demonstration. 3. Bear in mind that Aikido training includes more than one technique. Aside from the physical demonstrations, training in aikido includes observation and modification of both physical and psychological patterns of the students' thought and behavior. Since there are so many techniques to learn, an aikido student should be ready to react to circumstances so he or she can cultivate awareness. 4. Memorize the basic teachings and principles of the martial art. Aikido is known as one of the non-aggressive means of self-defense. That is why most aikido trainings involve cooperative activities. In order to learn and excel in the martial art, you must be cooperative enough with your partner so you will both reap the benefits of aikido. Make sure that you're careful when training and practicing aikido because some of the techniques can kill or damage when not practice judiciously. 5. Be prepared for anything and everything. Exercising, teaching, and training in Aikido is not simple. Because of the dynamic nature of the martial art, it can be very frustrating if you haven't prepared yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. Part of the training is learning to cope with frustrations that come along the training. The best solution whenever frustration sets in is that the practitioner should observe what is or are the possible causes of this frustration and how can they overcome these challenges. They should avoid comparing themselves with others and continue improving their techniques. Aikido in Everyday Life The modern martial art from Japan called Aikido is often referred to as the "art of peace" because it espouses a quick peaceful end to any form of aggression. In the practice place of Aikido, usually called dojo, students will be able to learn about flexibility and adaptation. Both of these are results of a relaxed manner that Aikido students strive to embody. The reason why being relaxed and calm is taught in Aikido practice is because at the heart of its principles of spirituality and philosophy, Aikido masters and instructors believe that the ki or ch'i or energy can only truly flow in its complete potential energy when one is relaxed. It is in this relaxed state that ki flows freely and smoothly. This philosophy that ki is a force that is very strong and fundamental. It is believed to be superior to muscle and physical strength, which sometimes hinders the ki. In fact, in Aikido, instead of muscle and strength building, flexibility and endurance is part of the Aikido martial art training. Now, it said that to be able to truly harness the power of the ki, it must be allowed to flow. It can only flow properly within us when we are in a relaxed state. The relaxed state cannot be built like muscles through exercise. A spiritual journey must be taken upon by an Aikido student to be able to achieve the state of calm and peace that is vital in combat. In constant defense and fear, we tend to be too busy to concentrate and are easily distracted. Aikido stresses this fact and so it teaches its students to remain calm in the face of an assault. Remaining calm puts an advantage over the assailant because you will not be caught of guard and unaware and therefore will not be toppled over or thrown. More advanced techniques teach students not only to fall properly, but also to be able to rebound and plant a counter attack as one rises from a fall. Beyond combat and the dojo however, Aikido masters and instructors cultivate the development of spirituality and character within Aikido students so that they can apply Aikido principles everyday in life. True understanding of Aikido simultaneously promotes better performance in practice combats as well as in performance in everyday life. Aikido everyday in life is akin to having an unshakable peace and calm that enables you to have the strength needed to withstand even the toughest of life's challenges. Remember that Aikido teaches students about flexibility, adaptability, calm and clarity. All these are useful tools in dealing with life, so say Aikido practitioners. Some Aikido martial artists tend to relate Aikido combat principles to everyday life like work, play and personal relationships. This results in a true oneness in the practice of Aikido everyday in life. In Aikido training, there is such a thing as uke and nage. One cannot exist without the other. Uke makes an assault on nage and consequently is the receiver of the Aikido technique which nage uses to neutralize uke's attack energy with. In training using uke and nage, one will be able to get better in Aikido techniques by learning from each other and gaining each others strengths and battling each others weaknesses together. If this is something that you want to cultivate in your life then Aikido everyday in life is something that you might want to take up and learn. Where to Practice Aikido Aikido is the modern Japanese martial art developed between the 1920 to 1960 by Morihei Ueshiba who was said to have been influenced by Omoto- kyo. It is the pacifist nature of Omoto-kyo that is said to be the fundamental principle of this "art of peace" martial art form. This particular martial art espouses relaxation and peace to be able to execute the Aikido techniques and moves properly. Through authentic Aikido training, the practitioner is expected to develop spiritually and philosophically and this should reflect in their ability to employ Aikido martial art techniques in an Aikido dojo. Dojo is the Japanese term for a formal training structure for martial arts. A truly authentic and traditional Aikido dojo is used only as a place for formal and symbolic gatherings, and is rarely used a place to actually train. The actual Aikido training from a traditional dojo is done outdoors in a less formal setting. A modern day Aikido dojo however loses most of its formality. Most of the time, there is no distinction from an Aikido dojo to the actual place of training and practice. In fact, in most cases, the two are one and the same. Some of the modern Aikido dojo that are run by small groups of individuals who want to remain authentic to the spirit of the traditional dojo, students conduct a cleaning ritual after each training session. This is done not just for hygienic purposes but it is done also to reinforce that the dojo is made up and run by the Aikido students rather than the institutions that put them up. Most traditional dojo observes a set pattern of precise entrances that need to be adhered to by the students depending on their rank. Students will commonly enter the dojo from the lower left corner while instructors will enter from the upper right corner. The traditional dojo also contain certain artifacts and objects to enhance the formal gatherings. For instance, a traditional dojo may have a place for a Shinto shrine and a spectator area for special visitors. These traditional practices however may only be found in Japan in a few remaining Aikido dojo. Today, to learn and be a student of Aikido, one must find an Aikido dojo conveniently near you to be able to attend practice regularly. More than the actual structure of the Aikido dojo however, you must choose the right one to attend to be able to suite your needs. It is also probably important to note and find out whether the Aikido dojo you are planning to attend remains true to the authentic teachings of Aikido, which lies in the principle of peace and relaxation to enable to ki to flow. Aikido is a martial art form that paradoxically promotes a peaceful end to aggression through various Aikido techniques. It might be prudent to find an Aikido dojo that will continue to uphold its spirituality and philosophy. A relaxed demeanor is key to being able to perform advance Aikido techniques. The relaxed manner is not something one can build through exercise like muscles. It is something that must be cultivated from within and maintained without. For this purpose, it would probably be good to keep the Aikido spirit in mind when find an Aikido dojo to join and learn Aikido martial arts from. Using Aikido in Combat Everyone has the power of life or death in one's hands. It is the decision of the individual to slow down when pedestrians are crossing or whether to pull the trigger when going on a duck hunt. Unfortunately, there are certain elements in society who will cause harm in order to get money instead of working for it. The person can become a victim when walking to the car after doing some shopping or when coming home late from work. The police may not always be there to assist so it is best to be prepared always. One way to be prepared is learning a martial art. The individual does not have to be as good as Bruce Lee to kick butt but simply learn what it takes to deliver a good punch. One of the more popular and yet very peaceful is aikido. This is because in combat, the person doesn't strike the opponent with the intent to injure or kill. The objective is merely to subdue the opponent with minimum force to be able to get to safety. There are various Dojos all across the country that teach aikido. The person can sign up in one and then move up the ranks. Beginners will first work use techniques based in the shape of a square. As the skills develop, the person will move up to triangle and then eventually circle. This will take months so the student must be committed throughout the entire process. The objective of this is for the person to be able to the various techniques with the least amount of effort unlike before. This will give the person enough energy in combat should there be more than one opponent. The things done in practice such as the holds, grips and falls can never be compared with what happens in the streets. This is because an inexperienced person may try something different so the individual should be prepared for anything. It is a good thing though that various competitions are held regularly so that one's combat skills can be tested. The student can sign up especially if the dojo usually participates in such tournaments. While in practice or during competition, the person should lower the tempo to prevent injuring the partner. After all, the real battle is out there in the streets and should only be used as a last resort. There may even come a time that the assailant could be someone also skilled in the martial arts. The only way to win will be to use the mind since this will allow the individual to react faster in the middle of a fight. There are various secrets in aikido. This can be from the hand to eye coordination, the flexibility of the wrist, the breathing and the speed. All of these things will count for something as the person is in combat struggling in a life or death situation. There is a line that goes, "no pain, no gain." Unfortunately, this will happen in order to be good at aikido since the one who has the competitive edge will be the victor in any battle. The person can do well in any combat situation as long as one is guided by senior students and the Sensei and believes in his or herself. Why watch Aikido clip video? Aikido was developed by as a martial art by Morihei Ueshiba who studied several martial arts since 1912. Known to many aikido practitioners as "O Sensei" or the "Great Teacher," Ueshiba was able to develop the martial art based on a purely physical level using techniques and movements such those of "Jujitsu" and "Kenjutsu" called "aikido." It is believed that aikido was first introduced to the Western culture way back in 1951 by a martial arts practitioner Minoru Mochizuki when he visited France. Then, he introduced aikido and several aikido techniques to judo students in different areas of France. After this introduction, Tadashi Abe, who cane as the official Aikikai Honbu representative in 1952, remained in France for less than seven years and continued the pursuit. The following year, Kenji Tomiki conducted a tour along with various martial arts delegates in 15 continental states in the US. And in that same year, Koichi Tohei of Aikikai Honbu was sent by for a year to Hawaii just to set up a number of dojos. After invading the US, Aikido gained patronage in the UK, Germany, and Australia. Today, thousands of dojos are set up for those who would want to learn the practice of the martial art. BITS AND PIECES OF AIKIDO If you are interested with aikido but do not have the time and money to go to a dojo and enroll for an aikido class, then you should find other means to do so. One of the easiest ways to introduce yourself into the exciting world of aikido is to browse the Internet and look for aikido video clips. Being a limitless source of any information, browsing the Internet for various aikido video clips can give you better options and the specific details you would want to learn. Today, there are so many websites that offer aikido clip videos for free for those who would want to learn the basics and for those who would want to get an idea how the martial art works before enrolling to it. Usually, aikido video clips contain loose form training or popularly known as "ki nagare." Here, the aikido practitioners are just playing around even and after the martial art presentation. The most viewed aikido video clips are those of famous aikido practitioners while conducting their classes or during their practice. But since these are just clips, it is not possible for you to learn everything about the techniques of the martial art. Amateurs who document the practitioner's lessons and stunts during practice usually take these aikido video clips. Since these are taken in impromptu, you cannot expect high quality resolution and sound. The most common problem would be is that the aikido video clip has a noisy background due to the noises created by people from neighboring gym hall or from the enthusiastic audience inside the dojo. After filming, they upload these files into the Internet so others can see it. Although these are just short clips, there is a possibility that you pick up aikido techniques that you can practice. Unlike in full- length aikido videos, the variety of aikido techniques is limited when you watch an aikido video clip. Aikido video clips are available in various aikido sites or from yahoo, google, and u-tube. There are many more websites that offer free aikido video clips but expect that limited amount of information can be gathered. KNOWING AIKIDO "Do not fight force with force," this is the most basic principle of Aikido. Considered as one of the non-aggressive styles in martial arts, Aikido has become popular because it doesn't instigate or provoke any attack. Instead, the force of the attacker is redirected into throws, locks, and several restraining techniques. Since aikido uses very few punches and kicks, the size, weight, age, and physical strength of the participants or the opponents only partake only a small role. What's important is the skilled Aikido practitioner is skilled enough to redirect his or her attacker's energy while keeping him or her in a constant of unbalance. The history of Aikido as a martial art can be traced when Morihei Ueshiba discovered and developed its principle of aikido. Known as "O Sensei" or the "Great Teacher," Ueshiba made sure to develop a martial art that is based on a purely physical level using movements like throws, joint locks and techniques derived from another martial arts like "Jujitsu" and "Kenjutsu." Technically, aikido was stemmed out and developed mainly from "daito- ryu aiki-jujutsu" while incorporating several training movements similar to the "yari" or "spear, "jo" or a short "quarterstaff" and from "juken" or "bayonet". Although these jujitsu movements are prominent while practicing the martial art, many practitioners agree that strongest influences of aikido is that of kenjutsu. When he finally developed the minor and major principles of Aikido, Ueshiba emphasized that the martial art does not only pertain to self- defense techniques but can also play a major role in the enhancement of the practitioner's moral and spiritual aspects eventually leading them to place greater weight on the development and achievement of peace and harmony. In fact, because of the great emphasis in the development of harmony and peace, seasoned aikido practitioners say that "the way of harmony of the spirit" is one phrase that could describe or translate the term "aikido" in English. Just like any other martial art, aikido has various techniques that include ikkyo or the "first technique," "nikyo" or the "second technique," "sankyo," or the "third technique," "yonkyo" or the "fourth technique," the "gokyo" or the "fifth technique," the "shihonage" or the "four-direction throw," the "kotegaeshi" or the wrist return, "kokyunage" or the "breath throw," "iriminage" or the entering-body throw, "tenchinage" or the "heaven-and-earth throw," "koshinage," or the "hip throw," "jujinage" or the "shaped-like-'ten'-throw," and the "kaitennage" or the rotation throw." Although aikido is not about punching or kicking the opponent, it is not considered as a static art. It is still a very effective means of martial arts because it requires the aikido practitioner to use the energy of their opponent so they can gain control over them. When you will look at the martial art closely, you will realize that aikido is not only a means of self-defense technique but can also serve a means of spiritual enlightenment, physical health or exercise or a simple means of attaining peace of mind, concentration, and serenity. Although different aikido styles gives great emphasis on the spiritual aspects to varying levels - some to greater or lesser degrees - the idea that the martial arts was conceptualized in order to achieve peace and harmony remains the most basic ideology of the martial art. The Art of Aikido Martial Arts is one of the contributions of Asia to the world. Who can forget Bruce Lee and the fact that he was first and foremost a martial arts athlete before being a movie star? Even until now martial arts is still a big hit with the increasing popularity of Asian movies like crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and more recently the House of the Flying Daggers. The Chinese are the first people that come to mind when it comes to these things but the Japanese are just as athletic with a rich heritage of body contact sports that can be found in their history. The modern Japan still gives honor to these things by holding tournaments and promoting such sports abroad, One of these is Aikido. It is interesting to note that the word comes from three Japanese words from which one can derive the meaning of the one word. Ai means joining, Ki means spirit and Do means way. From this we can understand why Aikido is beyond just the physical skills of it students especially sin its proponent Ueshiba focused more on the spiritual and philosophical development of his students. In Aikido, one is not taught violence instead one is taught to be in harmony with the opponent to be able to defeat. This might seem odd but it actually works. In approaching an opponent, the aim of the Aikido practitioner is to be one with the opponent to be able to attack him where he is weakest and in doing so diver or immobilize him but never to kill. This is where Aikido becomes an art. Art is something beautiful to watch and something positive and Aikido is all that. At least one of the people involved in the fighting strives for harmony and harmony can only be achieved if there is grace in the movements. The moves maybe calculated but there is an air of finesse in doing these movements, not a womanly finesse but just a finesse that emanates peace. The art of peace as what they call in Aikido is one of the most positive influences of Aikido to its students and to everyone who choose to know about this Japanese martial art. Some of the techniques in Aikido include the following. Ikkyo is the first technique. Using this technique you control an opponent by using one hand in holding the elbow and one near the wrist, this action is supposed to make you pin your opponent down in the ground. Nikyo the second technique is when you do an adductive wristlock that enables you to twist the arm of your opponent that will in turn cause enough nerve pressure. The third technique is Sankyo which is a pronating technique that directs upward-spiraling tension throughout the arm, elbow and shoulder. There are many other techniques but the first three should get you started. In studying Aikido, it is important to remember that along with building physical strength to be able to defeat your opponent the mental capacity should also be developed. Just like in any art, it takes a lot of practice and discipline to perfect the art of Aikido. The important thing is the one who wants to get into the art should have determination to give honor to the art by performing it in the best way possible.
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