More than a non-violent art of self-defense, Aikido is a budo, a way of life derived from principles of the martial arts. It was originated by Master Morihei Ueshiba who, after years of study in the martial arts and religion, refined what was primarily a physical system into a spiritual but extremely efficient art of self-defense. As now practiced, Aikido is a way of life that people of all sorts can enjoy. Aikido has three parts; ai (harmony, oneness, or agreement), ki (nature or universal energy), and do (road, path or way of life). Aikido, then, is a way of life through harmony with nature.
Aikido is performed by blending with the motion of the attacker and redirecting the force of the attack rather than opposing it head-on. This requires very little physical strength, as the aikidōka (aikido practitioner) “leads” the attacker’s momentum using entering and turning movements. The techniques are completed with various throws or 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.
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 learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker.