is a modern form of budo (Japanese martial way of self refinement)
combining vigorous physical training with spiritual discipline.
Aikido cannot be learned intellectually, but must be understood
through physical training, unifying body and mind, self and other.
Its cooperative nature allows us to execute technique in a more
dynamic and safe way than is possible in a competitive situation.
Aikido’s inclusiveness transcends boundaries of age, gender,
race, culture, religion and class.
Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). O’Sensei
(great teacher) combined his life study of martial, philosophical
and spiritual disciplines with his personal genius to create a form
of budo dedicated to the protection of life. He wrote, “True
budo is a work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings
and not killing and struggling with each other... Aikido is the
realization of love.”
Aikido is often promoted as an art of self defense. While Aikido
contains all the elements of attack and defense necessary for self
defense, its method of practice embodies deeply ethical principles
directed towards cultivating caring, responsible and responsive
Etiquette, the guidelines that govern our behavior in the dojo,
forms the heart of our practice. Expressed through the seated posture
of seiza, bowing, cleaning the dojo and the cooperative nature of
Aikido practice, etiquette shapes our attitude towards respect,
gratitude, humility and concern for self, others and our physical
and social environment. We begin and end practice with bowing, an
enactment of respect that is repeated in each encounter with our
training partners, forming the matrix within which all other action
Aikido teaches a variety of skills that contribute to a person’s
ability to attend to him/herself. These include learning to sit
quietly and observe our breathing, heartbeat, sensations and what
is going on around us. As seiza is the foundation of etiquette,
it is also the base for Aikido movement. Proper sitting develops
upright stable posture, full rhythmic breathing and a quiet alert
mental state. These three elements (posture, breath and state of
mind) are of fundamental importance to Aikido and life.
Aikido movement is circular and fluid, reflecting the organic motion
of nature. To create this circular movement we must establish a
strong stable center. This center resides in the area of our lower
abdomen (tanden), and its development is of primary importance to
physical mastery of Aikido. Moving in the kneeling position (shikko)
is one of the best methods for strengthening the tanden.
Aikido practice also develops falling and rolling skills that have
obvious benefits for self-protection and serve as wonderful means
for physical conditioning. These skills (ukemi) allow us to absorb
and neutralize the throws and techniques of Aikido. It is through
the reciprocal exchange of throwing and being thrown in Aikido that
care for others can be learned. Essential to caring for others is
the ability to attend to them. The partner practices (kata) of Aikido
require that we listen to (sense) our partners and join our movement
with theirs. In order to harmonize with our partners, we must learn
to focus our full attention to that end. However, if this skill
is taught as a means of gaining control over others, our practice
violates the moral ethics of O-Sensei’s teaching. The objective
of our practice must be mutual learning and the development of awareness
Aikido weapons training and Iai Batto-ho (art of drawing and cutting
with a sword) reveal the martial roots of our practice. They develop
martial spirit through the intensity of focus and precision of timing
and distance demanded by the disciplined use of sword and staff
in solo or partnered forms. The foundation for Aikido body arts
exists within these weapons forms.
The practice of Aikido, including seiza, shikko, ukemi and kata,
develops strength, coordination, balance, relaxation, flexibility
and sensitivity. These qualities emerge within a context of disciplined
concern for others, for the dojo and the materials used in our practice.
Dojo members participate in the cleaning of the dojo as an integral
part of their practice.
While we believe Aikido is a serious endeavor, our training should
contain elements of wonder and joy as well as hard work. Fun is
a serious part of our practice. The ultimate objective is to give
practitioners of all ages, backgrounds and capabilities an opportunity
to swim in the waters of Aikido. We hope that in doing so we can
discover the personal and interpersonal resources needed to meet
the challenges of today’s world.