Aikido is a modern, non-aggressive Japanese martial art that was developed earlier this century by the late master Professor Morihei Ueshiba, commonly called O Sensei. The Founder passed away in 1969 at the age of eighty six.
Aikido is effective as a martial art but its essence goes beyond the resolution of physical conflict. Based on a background of rigorous training in traditional Japanese jujutsu, sword and spear techniques, Professor Ueshiba spent the latter half of his life developing the art as a means of refining and uplifting human spirit. He succeeded in creating what he then named 'Aikido', 'the Way of Harmony with the Forces and Principles of Nature'. Aikido is a true 'budo' path, in which the keen edge of martial training is utilised as a 'Way' to spiritual growth.
Despite its growth in popularity, Aikido remains true to the goals of budo. Its methods are based on Professor Ueshiba's deep faith in 'austere training for the sake of improving the human spirit through tireless polishing and perfection of mind and body'. In accordance with the founders ideals , the art has kept separate from sports, in which one person competes with another. Aikido is rather a path for personal development for people who sincerely desire to perfect their own human nature. As such, Aikido places great importance on the the Universal Principal of 'ki' - the life force or breath. Aikido seeks to achieve the total unification of this universal 'ki' with the 'ki' of individual human 'self'. Aikido is a budo to harmonise the individual with the Universal Principle and to concord among all peoples. Out of the ancient traditions of Japanese martial arts, Aikido thrives as a source of harmony to counter the disharmonious forces that exist in the world today.
What does Aikido mean?
The word 'Aikido' in Japanese is made up of three characters or kanji.
The first and most important is 'Ai' which means to meet, to come together, 'to harmonise'. In Japanese this also means 'love' and this is the truer translation of the word, as O Sensei used it.
The second kanji is ki which means literally steam or vapour, but has come to mean in modern Japanese, the mind, the soul, the spirit. In the larger context 'Ki' means 'spirit or force of the Universe', and not just the spirit of mere human beings.
The third and last character is 'DO' which means 'the way', as in Ken-Do or Ju-Do, to signify that the study of Aikido does not involve only techniques based purely in self defence, but includes positive character development ideals which people can incorporate into their daily lives.
Thus, in a physical training sense Aikido means 'the Way of Harmonising the Body and Universal Spirit' but in a deeper sense it also means loving the world and all who live in it.
Moving in Concert with the Principles of Nature
The most outstanding feature of physical training is the repetitious practice of various techniques until rational and unforced movements flow naturally from within the body. The Aikidoist practices ways to control aggression without causing harm or injury. The fact that there is no competition in Aikido is a natural result of this basic philosophy. When winning or losing are of no consequence, trainees are free to dedicate their efforts towards mutual goals. It is thus possible for men, women and children of all ages to walk together down the path of budo that is the heart of Aikido. With each student training and progressing at his or her own pace, all can find harmony within their own personal development.
Circular, flowing movements originating from a relaxed body and a fully centred mind are the Aikido ideal. Regular practice brings a feeling of well being and self confidence that carries over into every aspect of daily life. Such experiences eventually result in a broadening of human experience.
In Aikido, there is no 'Way' except the path of confronting 'the enemy that lies within oneself'. Aikido is a path of dogged perseverance and dedication to improving both spirit and body. The recognition and acceptance of this aspect of training is the surest means to steady progress and personal progression.
Aikido in Australia
Aiki Kai Australia was founded in 1965 by Sugano Shihan (Shihan means master teacher) and celebrates over 50 years of Aikido instruction. After the passing of Sugano Sensei in 2010, Tony Smibert Shihan, 7th Dan, continues today as the World Aikido Headquarters (Hombu) Representative in Australia, closely supported by Robert Botterill Shihan, 7th Dan and Hanan Janiv Shihan, 7th Dan. While continuing their extensive local activities the three shihans have many international teaching commitments as well.
The Association has highly graded representatives in all States and Territories. Aiki Kai Australia is the only Australian organisation to hold a permanent grading authority from the Aikido World Headquarters in Japan. All black belt grades passed by AKA are issued and registered by Hombu dojo in Tokyo.