Aikido – History, Techniques, Belts and Interesting Facts

Aikido is known throughout the world for its beauty and virtuosity in the handling of traditional Japanese weapons and melee combat.

The meaning of Aikido is “path of energy and harmony”.

It was created by the master Morihei Ueshiba after working for more than 30 years in the combination of traditional martial arts styles, such as Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, and Karate-do.

Aikido is based on the idea of “ki” which is interpreted as “vital energy”. And it develops the technique of ki awasé that treats of a set of exercises between two practitioners with the handling of the ki and the stick.

The constant practice of Aikido balances the person in body, mind, emotion and spirit. This discipline can be learned and practiced by all people who want it regardless of their age and physical condition because the most important thing is constancy and daily training.

Aikido - Facts and History

What is Aikido?

The goal of Aikido martial art is the neutralization of the opponent without causing harm or humiliation. Teachers train their practitioners as peace promoters.

Aikido is a mixture of various classical martial arts with and without weapons used by samurai, such as Japanese daggers, spears and sabers. In addition to taking Judo techniques, an older martial art.

The master Morihei Ueshiba established that the true spirit of martial arts is the personal pursuit of physical, mental and spiritual perfection through the training of reflection and practice rather than victory in competitions.

The word “enemy” is not used in Aikido. It is called companion or “uke” which is like a mirror that lets you glimpse the physical and psychic state of aikidoka.

See also: Water punching bags

Practitioners are aware of the responsibility of learning self-defense techniques because many of them are dangerous. In fact, in most cases, they avoid direct confrontation. The person who trains Aikido follows the philosophy of cultivating his abilities to improve his life and not to mistreat, hurt or injure. Veterans say there is no need to hurt another person.

The principles of Aikido established by sensei Morihei Ueshiba seek the balance of body, mind, and spirit as it is the path of the universe and eternity. In Ueshiba’s words, Aikido is the truth taught by the universe to live fully on Earth that is achieved by being compassionate to other human beings and nature.

The depth of his philosophy seeks for each practitioner to achieve a more harmonious connection with the universe and divinity.

History of Aikido

The master Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, moved to Tokyo in 1927 to open his first dojo where he taught the Daito ryu aiki-jūjutsu style with significant modifications of the original technique.

In 1942, master Morihei Ueshiba adopted the name “Aikido” as the official term for the martial art he created. It was based on the traditional martial arts and the philosophy of Shintoism and Zen practice.

At the end of World War II, martial arts were banned in Japan by U.S. occupying forces. Finally, in 1948 the Ministry of Education granted permission to re-establish the Aikikai Institute and the Tokyo dojo was renamed Ueshiba Dojo which was recognized as the headquarters of the Aikido World Headquarters.

In recent years, the practice of the martial art Aikido has gained popularity for the beauty in the handling of the technique in melee combat and the use of Japanese weapons. Its elegance is like a dance in which the performers use each other’s energy to create movement.

Main techniques of aikido

Aikido is a martial art derived from the use of traditional samurai weapons such as sabre, spear and dagger and combat and is structured on the basis of a defensive strategy of the model of creation and preservation.

Dislocation, throwing and strangulation techniques similar to those of Jiu-jitsu, Judo, and Korean Hapkido and Filipino martial arts or fencing tactics are used. Armed combat styles are the same as empty hand styles.

Basic techniques of Aikido

• Tai sabaki: circular movements that seek to leave the opponent’s line of attack to channel their energy.
• Aiki taiso: body alignment, breathing, displacement, extension and rotation to achieve joint luxations.
• Ukemi waza: dynamic falls and bearings.
• Kokyu ho: breathing, coordination, nervous awareness, and muscle relaxation.
• Nage waza: throwing techniques based on the imbalance or creation of a vacuum.
• Kansetsu waza: joint dislocation techniques.
• Te waza: hand movements.
• Ashi waza: techniques of steps, tripping and sweeping.
• Shime waza: strangulation techniques.
• Atemi waza: blows to stun the opposite.

Aikido has different techniques and tactics of attack, defense, counterattack, and disarmament. They have been structured by the sensei Morihei Ueshiba and inherited from the kenjutsu that combines fencing with classic sabre and the kobudo that is the art of the traditional weapons.

The associations and federations of Aikido promote the use of traditional Japanese weapons such as the traditional Japanese sabre or katana, the wooden sabre, the short spear or medium stick, the short stick and the wooden knife to perform ornamental movements in a circle and spiral.

How is the Kimono of aikido?

The uniform of the Aikido (keikogi) is a combination of the jacket (uwagi) and haku trousers in white cotton, similar to those used in Judo or Karate.

Practitioners prefer woven “grain of rice” ensembles that are thicker, stronger, and seamless. They are also more comfortable with perspiration.

The trousers should be long enough to cover the entire upper third of the thigh and the sleeves should reach to the middle of the forearm, but not beyond the wrist. It is worn without underwear and women may wear a T-shirt underneath. A belt (obi) is used to hold the jacket.

To walk from the wardrobe to the practice mat, you can use the traditional “zoris” footwear, which is a sandal with a flat bottom made of woven straw.

Classification of belts in Aikido

Within the best known Aikido style, the system of kyu-dan levels is maintained, which has been inherited from Judo from the kyu degrees and the dandes degrees from the 1st to the 9th. The tenth grade was only reached by the founding master.

The more traditional schools in Aikido do not use belt colors for beginners and intermediate practitioners to indicate their level. Although lately the practice of using colored belts has become widespread in schools that teach Aikido to children.

Kyu are the most basic levels of Aikido. They follow an inverse order, this means that a practitioner who begins to learn Aikido has grade 10 kyu, while a performer who is about to get the black belt (first dan) will have grade 1 kyu. The grades were taken from Japanese Karate-do, while the belt system was established in Judo at the beginning of the last century.

Because of its particularity, the teaching of Aikido in children is different from that given to adults. In the children, it is sought to develop the psychomotor capacities according to their ages and it requires of games and dynamics to learn the greetings, exercises and the philosophy of this martial art.

Parents who want their children to learn the practice of values such as respect and friendship can enroll them in an Aikido school as the instructor or sensei will teach them to train their physical body, master their instincts of aggression and practice healthy habits of eating, sleeping and personal hygiene.

In addition to the value of discipline for the achievement of their life goals and learn that only through the practice of non-violence can better societies be achieved.