Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy and religious beliefs. Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. Aikido is often translated as “the way of unifying (with) life energy” or as “the way of harmonious spirit”.
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Mitsuteru Ueshiba at the 55th All Japan Aikido Demonstration held at the Nippon Budokan (May 2017)
Aikido’s techniques include: irimi (entering), and tenkan (turning) movements (that redirect the opponent’s attack momentum), various types of throws and joint locks.
Aikido derives mainly from the martial art of Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, but began to diverge from it in the late 1920s, partly due to Ueshiba’s involvement with the Ōmoto-kyō religion. Ueshiba’s early students’ documents bear the term aiki-jūjutsu.
Ueshiba’s senior students have different approaches to aikido, depending partly on when they studied with him. Today, aikido is found all over the world in a number of styles, with broad ranges of interpretation and emphasis. However, they all share techniques formulated by Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker.