First master the techniques of Aiki,
The way of the Kami;
Then no enemy will ever attack.
- Morihei Ueshiba
Aikido is a martial art that was developed in Japan in the first part of the 20th Century by Morihei Ueshiba. It is strictly an art of self-defence - not attack. Typically the movements are flowing, often circular, and don't look very martial at all to the onlooker.
From an attacker's perspective, the experience of aikido movements may be something like this:
I'll whack this guy good, there!
Hey, where has he gone?...
Woah! where has the ground gone?
Ah there it is, ouch!
An experienced aikidoka can avoid an attack just before it reaches him, thus leading the attacker into a void - the place where the aikidoka was just a moment ago - causing the attacker to lose his balance and control. He will then use this advantage to execute some technique, throwing the attacker, or locking his limbs (most often the arms). The locking techniques allow the aikidoka to keep control of his attacker, making sure he doesn't attack again. A well executed throw could also make sure that the attacker doesn't come back for seconds, either because he can't get back up again (it is not easy to fall without getting hurt) or because he is clever enough to realise that it is not a very good idea.
There is a strong spiritual side to aikido: it is less important to learn the techniques than it is to become aware of yourself and your surroundings. Learning aikido can help one to become more centred, more in control of one's life and less a victim of circumstances.
Of course, the way to achieve such a state of enlightenment is through discipline and training:
- Let yourself be attacked.
- Learn how to deal with it.
- Throw the attacker.
- Switch roles and get thrown around yourself.
- Repeat until enlightened.
It is almost impossible to explain aikido; it has to be experienced. Just try it out.