Although the roots of Aikido technique reach back into the fighting styles of feudal Japan, present day Aikido is the creation of a remarkable man, Morihei Ueshiba, commonly referred to as O Sensei, meaning great teacher.
O Sensei studied a variety of traditional martial arts including jujitsu (unarmed combat), kenjitsu (sword fighting) and sojitsu (spear fighting) and became one of the most renowned martial artists of his day.
O Sensei was also a follower of the Omoto religion and a man of high spiritual understanding. He came to the realization that fighting is a futile means of resolving conflicts, that violence only creates more violence. Even the most powerful and accomplished warriors must eventually succumb to time and aging. In the end defeat is inevitable.
O Sensei understood that ultimate victory came from not fighting at all. He saw that by manipulating and harmonizing with an attackers movement a fight can be completely avoided. In this way Aikido became an actual physical expression of his spiritual beliefs.
O Sensei continued his practice of Aikido until his death at age 86. After he passed away on April 26, 1969, the Japanese government bestowed it’s highest honor, declaring Morihei Ueshiba to be a Sacred National Treasure of Japan.
Aikido can seem almost magical at first with attackers flying through the air or withering in pain from what appear to be effortless movements on the part of the defender. However, it’s not magic but movement that makes Aikido so effective.
The essence of all Aikido techniques is spherical motion around a stable, energized center. Even when the direction appears to be straight forward or backward, close observation reveals the Aikidoist’s movements are in fact circular.
In Aikido you learn how to blend with the motion of an attack, redirecting the assailant’s movement and taking them off balance. Properly executed, some techniques are spectacular, sending an opponent flying through the air. Others are like sleight-of-hand: small, deft movements that immobilize the aggressor. Both results are achieved through precise use of leverage, inertia, gravity, and the action of centrifugal and centripetal forces. Ultimately, it is the energy of the attack itself which brings down the attacker.