Aikido is a martial art that means the road to union or harmonisation with the life-force. Aikido can also be translated as the way to spiritual harmony. It is one of the newest of the Japanese martial arts, having been developed in the 1920s by Morihei Ueshiba. Ueshiba was a martial arts expert skilled in the use of traditional weapons (sword, spear and staff) as well as in Judo and Jujitsu. He asserted that the true purpose of martial arts was to develop a love and respect for all creation.
Although Aikido is a type of self-defence, it depends upon the cultivation of a sense of harmony between yourself and an attacker. As with other forms of self-defence, power is seen not to depend upon size and strength; the force of the attacker is not resisted but rather it is re-channelled thereby naturalising the attack.
As opposed to other martial arts such as Judo, Aikido is not competitive. It is based upon co-operation or a relationship of give and take. Combat is seen as a metaphor for life - victory and defeat are unimportant except as a reflection of the changing fortunes of life.
Although Aikido is always practised with a partner, in other respects it has much in common with Tai Chi: both stress the importance of allowing the body to act in a smooth, natural way, reducing tension and promoting an overall sense of balance and harmony.
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