ai – joining, unifying, combining, fit
ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale
dō – way, path
These symbols are often translated as “the Way of harmonious spirit”. In other words: an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves if attacked, while protecting their attacker from injury.
Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. Techniques require little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s energy, force and momentum using entering and turning movements. Aikido techniques are completed with throws, pins (immobilisations) or joint-locks, rather than kicks or punches. In true and traditional form it is non-competitive.
Aikido is an effective system of self-defence, and forms the foundation of self-defence and protection techniques taught in the police around the world. With dedicated and long-term study you should develop a flexible body, improved coordination and sharper reactions. Aikido will help you improve on Ma-ai – distance and timing between yourself and an attacker.
Aikido is based upon skill rather than physical strength or size, and is suitable for young or old, male or female, strong or weak.
Similarities have been observed between aikido and dance movements: close proximity, fluidity, synchronisity. In fact in 1992 Terry Dobson wrote It’s a Lot Like Dancing: Aikido Journey. Watch this short movie of dance, aikido and the beautiful places to do both, produced by Gower Films and featuring our friends at Gower Aikido.