Aikido

Infobox_martial_art
logo =
logocaption =
logosize =



imagecaption = The version of the "four-direction throw" ("shihōnage") with standing attacker and seated defender ("hanmi-handachi"). The receiver of the throw ("uke") is taking a breakfall ("ukemi") to safely reach the ground.
imagesize = 300px
name = Aikido
_ja. 合気道
aka =
focus = Grappling
country = flagicon|JPN Japan
creator = Morihei Ueshiba
parenthood = "aiki-jūjutsu"; judo; jujutsu; "kenjutsu"; "sōjutsu"
famous_pract =
olympic = No
website =
Nihongo|Aikido|合気道|aikidō is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba as a synthesis of his martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the Way of unifying (with) life energy" [cite book
last = Saotome
first = Mitsugi
title = The Principles of Aikido
publisher = Shambhala
year = 1989
pages = 222
location = Boston, Massachusetts
isbn = 978-0877734093
] or as "the Way of harmonious spirit."cite book
last = Westbrook
first = Adele
coauthors = Ratti, Oscar
title = Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere
publisher = Charles E. Tuttle Company
year = 1970
pages = 16-96
location = Tokyo, Japan
isbn = 978-0804800044
] Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also 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. This requires very little physical energy, 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.cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Aikido
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=18
] Aikido can be categorized under the general umbrella of grappling arts.

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".cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Aikijujutsu
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=31
] Many of Ueshiba's senior students have different approaches to aikido, depending 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 learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the attacker. This attitude has been at the core of criticisms of aikido and related arts.

Etymology and basic philosophy

The word "aikido" is formed of three kanji:
* - "ai" - joining, harmonizing
* - "ki" - spirit, life energy
* - "dō" - way, path

The term transl|ja|"dō" connects the practice of aikido with the philosophical concept of "Tao", which can be found in martial arts such as judo and kendo, and in more peaceful arts such as Japanese calligraphy (transl|ja|"shodō"), flower arranging (transl|ja|"kadō") and tea ceremony (transl|ja|"chadō or sadō"). The term transl|ja|"aiki" refers to the martial arts principle or tactic of blending with an attacker's movements for the purpose of controlling their actions with minimal effort. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Aiki
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2007
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=10
accessdate=2007-08-21
] One applies transl|ja|"aiki" by understanding the rhythm and intent of the attacker to find the optimal position and timing to apply a counter-technique. Historically, transl|ja|"aiki" was mastered for the purpose of killing; however in aikido one seeks to control an aggressor without causing harm. The founder of aikido declared: "To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace."cite book
last = Ueshiba
first = Morihei
coauthors = trans. by Stevens, John
title = The Art of Peace
publisher = Shambhala Publications, Inc.
year = 1992
location = Boston, Massachusetts
isbn = 978-0877738510
] A number of aikido practitioners interpret aikido metaphorically, seeing parallels between aikido techniques and other methods for conflict resolution. [cite book
last = Ringer
first = Judy
year = 2006
title = Unlikely Teachers: Finding the Hidden Gifts in Daily Conflict | publisher = OnePoint Press
isbn = 978-0977614905
] [cite book
last = Crum
first = Thomas F.
year = 1998
title = The Magic of Conflict: Turning a Life of Work into a Work of Art
edition = 2nd rev. ed.
publisher = Touchstone
isbn = 978-0684854489
] [cite book
author = Dobson T, Miller V
year = 1994 | title = Aikido in Everyday Life: Giving In to Get Your Way
edition = 2nd ed.
publisher = North Atlantic Books
isbn = 978-1556431517
] [cite book
last = Dobson
first = Terry
year = 1994
title = It's a Lot Like Dancing: An Aikido Journey
publisher = Blue Snake Books
isbn = 978-1883319021
] [cite book
last = Siegel
first = Andrea
year = 1993
title = Women in Aikido
publisher = North Atlantic Books
isbn = 978-1556431616
] These kanji are identical to the Korean versions of the characters that form the word hapkido, a Korean martial art. Although there are no known direct connections between the two arts, it is suspected that the founders of both arts trained in Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu.

History

" ("Great Teacher"). [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = O-Sensei
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2007
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=533
] Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but also an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation. During Ueshiba's lifetime and continuing today, aikido has evolved from the "koryū" (old-style martial arts) that Ueshiba studied into a wide variety of expressions by martial artists throughout the world.

Initial development

Ueshiba developed aikido primarily during the late 1920s through the 1930s through the synthesis of the older martial arts that he had studied.cite book
last = Stevens
first = John
authorlink = John Stevens (scholar)
coauthor= Rinjiro, Shirata
title = Aikido: The Way of Harmony
publisher = Shambhala
year = 1984
pages = 3-17
location = Boston, Massachusetts
isbn = 978-0394714264
] The core martial art from which aikido derives is Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu, which Ueshiba studied directly with Takeda Sokaku, the revivor of that art. Additionally, Ueshiba is known to have studied Tenjin Shin'yō-ryū with Tozawa Tokusaburō in Tokyo in 1901, Gotōha Yagyū Shingan-ryū under Nakai Masakatsu in Sakai from 1903 to 1908, and judo with Kiyoichi Takagi ( _ja. 高木 喜代子 transl|ja|"Takagi Kiyoichi", 1894–1972) in Tanabe in 1911. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Ueshiba, Morihei
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=723
]

The art of Daitō-ryū is the primary technical influence on aikido. Along with empty-handed throwing and joint-locking techniques, Ueshiba incorporated training movements with weapons, such as those for the spear (transl|ja|"yari"), short staff (transl|ja|""), and perhaps the Nihongo|bayonet|銃剣|jūken. However, aikido derives much of its technical structure from the art of swordsmanship (transl|ja|"kenjutsu").

Ueshiba moved to Hokkaidō in 1912, and began studying under Takeda Sokaku in 1915. His official association with Daitō-ryū continued until 1937. However, during the latter part of that period, Ueshiba had already begun to distance himself from Takeda and the Daitō-ryū. At that time Ueshiba was referring to his martial art as "Aiki Budō". It is unclear exactly when Ueshiba began using the name "aikido", but it became the official name of the art in 1942 when the Greater Japan Martial Virtue Society (transl|ja|"Dai Nippon Butoku Kai") was engaged in a government sponsored reorganization and centralization of Japanese martial arts.

Religious influences

After Ueshiba left Hokkaidō in 1919, he met and was profoundly influenced by Onisaburo Deguchi, the spiritual leader of the Ōmoto-kyō religion (a neo-Shinto movement) in Ayabe. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Morihei Ueshiba and Onisaburo Deguchi
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
date =
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=73
] One of the primary features of Ōmoto-kyō is its emphasis on the attainment of utopia during one's life. This was a great influence on Ueshiba's martial arts philosophy of extending love and compassion especially to those who seek to harm others. Aikido demonstrates this philosophy in its emphasis on mastering martial arts so that one may receive an attack and harmlessly redirect it. In an ideal resolution not only is the receiver unharmed but so is the attacker. [cite web
last = Oomoto Foundation
first =
title = The Teachings
work = Teachings and Scriptures
publisher = Netinformational Commission
year = 2007
url = http://www.oomoto.or.jp/English/enDokt/dokt-en.html
accessdate = 2007-08-14
]

In addition to the effect on his spiritual growth, the connection with Deguchi gave Ueshiba entry to elite political and military circles as a martial artist. As a result of this exposure, he was able to attract not only financial backing but also gifted students. Several of these students would found their own styles of aikido.cite journal
last = Shishida
first = Fumiaki
title = Aikido
journal = Aikido Journal
date =
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=626
]

International dissemination

Aikido was first brought to the West in 1951 by Minoru Mochizuki with a visit to France where he introduced aikido techniques to judo students.cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Mochizuki, Minoru
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=474
] He was followed by Tadashi Abe in 1952 who came as the official Aikikai Hombu representative, remaining in France for seven years. Kenji Tomiki toured with a delegation of various martial arts through fifteen continental states of the United States in 1953. Later in that year, Koichi Tohei was sent by Aikikai Hombu to Hawaii, for a full year, where he set up several dojo. This was followed up by several further visits and is considered the formal introduction of aikido to the United States. The United Kingdom followed in 1955; Italy in 1964; Germany and Australia in 1965. Designated "Official Delegate for Europe and Africa" by Morihei Ueshiba, Masamichi Noro arrived in France in September 1961. Today there are aikido dojo available throughout the world.

Proliferation of independent organisations

The biggest aikido organisation is the Aikikai Foundation which remains under the control of the Ueshiba family. However, aikido has many styles, mostly formed by Morihei Ueshiba's major students.

The earliest independent styles to emerge were Yoseikan Aikido, begun by Minoru Mochizuki in 1931, Yoshinkan Aikido founded by Gozo Shioda in 1955, [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Yoshinkan Aikido
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=785
] and Shodokan Aikido, founded by Kenji Tomiki in 1967.cite book
last = Shishido
first = Fumiaki
authorlink = Fumiaki Shishida
coauthors = Nariyama, Tetsuro
title = Aikido: Tradition and the Competitive Edge
publisher = Shodokan Publishing USA
year = 2002
isbn = 978-0964708327
] The emergence of these styles pre-dated Ueshiba's death and did not cause any major upheavals when they were formalized. Shodokan Aikido, however, was controversial, since it introduced a unique rule-based competition that some felt was contrary to the spirit of aikido.

After Ueshiba's death in 1969, two more major styles emerged. Significant controversy arose with the departure of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo's chief instructor Koichi Tohei, in 1974. Tohei left as a result of a disagreement with the son of the founder, Kisshomaru Ueshiba , who at that time headed the Aikikai Foundation. The disagreement was over the proper role of "ki" development in regular aikido training. After Tohei left, he formed his own style, called Shin Shin Toitsu Aikido, and the organization which governs it, the Ki Society. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Tohei, Koichi
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=701
]

A final major style evolved from Ueshiba's retirement in Iwama, Ibaraki, and the teaching methodology of long term student Morihiro Saito. It is unofficially referred to as the "Iwama style", and at one point a number of its followers formed a loose network of schools they called Iwama Ryu. Although Iwama style practitioners remained part of the Aikikai until Saito's death in 2002, followers of Saito subsequently split into two groups; one remaining with the Aikikai and the other forming the independent organization the Shinshin Aikishuren Kai, in 2004 around Saito's son Hitohiro Saito.

Today, the major styles of aikido are each run by a separate governing organization, have their own Nihongo|headquarters|本部道場|honbu dōjō in Japan, and have an international breadth.

Training

In aikido, as in virtually all Japanese martial arts, there are both physical and mental aspects of training. The physical training in aikido is diverse, covering both general physical fitness and conditioning, as well as specific techniques.cite book
last = Homma
first = Gaku
title = Aikido for Life
publisher = North Atlantic Books
year = 1990
pages = 20
location = Berkeley, California
isbn = 978-1556430787
] Because a substantial portion of any aikido curriculum consists of throws, the first thing most students learn is how to safely fall or roll. The specific techniques for attack include both strikes and grabs; the techniques for defense consist of throws and pins. After basic techniques are learned, students study freestyle defense against multiple opponents, and in certain styles, techniques with weapons.

Fitness

Physical training goals pursued in conjunction with aikido include controlled relaxation, flexibility, and endurance, with less emphasis on strength training. In aikido pushing or extending movements are much more common than pulling or contracting movements. This distinction can be applied to general fitness goals for the aikido practitioner.

Certain anaerobic fitness activities, such as weight training, emphasize contracting movements. In aikido specific muscles or muscle groups are not isolated and worked to improve tone, mass, and power. Aikido related training emphasizes the use of coordinated whole body movement and balance similar to yoga or pilates. For example many dojo begin each class with Nihongo|warm-up exercises|準備体操|junbi taisō, which may include stretching and break falls. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Jumbi Taiso
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2006
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia.php?entryID=340
]

Roles of "uke" and "nage"

Aikido training is based primarily on two partners practicing pre-arranged forms ("kata") rather than freestyle practice. The basic pattern is for the receiver of the technique ("uke") to initiate an attack against the thrower ( _ja. 投げ "nage", also referred to as 取り "tori", or _ja. 仕手 "shite", depending on aikido style), who neutralises this attack with an aikido technique.

Both halves of the technique, that of "uke" and that of "nage", are considered essential to aikido training. Both are studying aikido principles of blending and adaptation. "Nage" learns to blend with and control attacking energy, while "uke" learns to become calm and flexible in the disadvantageous, off-balance positions in which "nage" places them. This "receiving" of the technique is called "ukemi".cite book
last = Homma | first = Gaku
title = Aikido for Life
publisher = North Atlantic Books
year = 1990 | pages = 20–30
location = Berkeley, California
isbn = 978-1556430787
] "Uke" continuously seeks to regain balance and cover vulnerabilities (e.g., an exposed side), while "nage" uses position and timing to keep "uke" off-balance and vulnerable. In more advanced training, "uke" will sometimes apply Nihongo|reversal techniques|返し技|kaeshi-waza to regain balance and pin or throw "nage".

Nihongo|"Ukemi"|受身 refers to the act of receiving a technique. Good "ukemi" involves a parry or breakfall that is used to avoid pain or injury, such as joint dislocations or "atemi".

Initial attacks

Aikido techniques are usually a defense against an attack; therefore, to practice aikido with their partner, students must learn to deliver various types of attacks. Although attacks are not studied as thoroughly as in striking-based arts, "honest" attacks (a strong strike or an immobilizing grab) are needed to study correct and effective application of technique.

Many of the Nihongo|strikes|打ち|uchi of aikido are often said to resemble cuts from a sword or other grasped object, which may suggest origins in techniques intended for armed combat. Other techniques, which appear to explicitly be punches ("tsuki"), are also practiced as thrusts with a knife or sword. Kicks are generally reserved for upper-level variations; reasons cited include that falls from kicks are especially dangerous, and that kicks (high kicks in particular) were uncommon during the types of combat prevalent in feudal Japan. Some basic strikes include:
*Nihongo|Front-of-the-head strike|正面打ち|shōmen'uchi a vertical knifehand strike to the head.
*Nihongo|Side-of-the-head strike|横面打ち|yokomen'uchi a diagonal knifehand strike to the side of the head or neck.
*Nihongo|Chest thrust|胸突き|mune-tsuki a punch to the torso. Specific targets include the chest, abdomen, and solar plexus. Same as Nihongo|"middle-level thrust"|中段突き|chūdan-tsuki, and Nihongo|"direct thrust"|直突き|choku-tsuki.
*Nihongo|Face thrust|顔面突き|ganmen-tsuki a punch to the face. Same as Nihongo|"upper-level thrust"|上段突き|jōdan-tsuki.

Beginners in particular often practice techniques from grabs, both because they are safer and because it is easier to feel the energy and lines of force of a hold than a strike. Some grabs are historically derived from being held while trying to draw a weapon; a technique could then be used to free oneself and immobilize or strike the attacker who is grabbing the defender. The following are examples of some basic grabs:
*Nihongo|Single-hand grab|片手取り|katate-dori one hand grabs one wrist.
*Nihongo|Both-hands grab|諸手取り|morote-dori both hands grab one wrist.
*Nihongo|Both-hands grab|両手取り|ryōte-dori both hands grab both wrists. Same as Nihongo|"double single-handed grab"|両片手取り|ryōkatate-dori.
*Nihongo|Shoulder grab|肩取り|kata-dori a shoulder grab. "Both-shoulders-grab" is Nihongo|"ryōkata-dori"|両肩取り
*Nihongo|Chest grab|胸取り|mune-dori grabbing the (clothing of the) chest. Same as Nihongo|"collar grab"|襟取り|eri-dori.

Basic techniques

The following are a sample of the basic or widely practiced throws and pins. The precise terminology for some may vary between organisations and styles, so what follows are the terms used by the Aikikai Foundation. Note that despite the names of the first five techniques listed, they are not universally taught in numeric order. [cite book
last = Shifflett
first = C.M.
title = Aikido Exercises for Teaching and Training
publisher = North Atlantic Books
year = 1999
location = Berkeley, California
isbn = 978-1556433146
]

* a control using one hand on the elbow and one hand near the wrist which leverages "uke" to the ground. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Ikkyo
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2008
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=289
] This grip also applies pressure into the ulnar nerve at the wrist.
* a pronating wristlock that torques the arm and applies painful nerve pressure. (There is an adductive wristlock or Z-lock in "ura" version.)
* a rotational wristlock that directs upward-spiraling tension throughout the arm, elbow and shoulder.
* a shoulder control similar to "ikkyō", but with both hands gripping the forearm. The knuckles (from the palm side) are applied to the recipient's radial nerve against the periosteum of the forearm bone. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Yonkyo
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2008
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=780
]
* visually similar to "ikkyō", but with an inverted grip of the wrist, medial rotation of the arm and shoulder, and downward pressure on the elbow. Common in knife and other weapon take-aways.
* The hand is folded back past the shoulder, locking the shoulder joint.
* a supinating wristlock-throw that stretches the extensor digitorum.
* a loosely used term for various types of mechanically unrelated techniques, although they generally do not use joint locks like other techniques. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Kokyunage
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2008
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=419
]
* throws in which "nage" moves through the space occupied by "uke". The classic form superficially resembles a "clothesline" technique.
* beginning with "ryōte-dori"; moving forward, "nage" sweeps one hand low ("earth") and the other high ("heaven"), which unbalances "uke" so that he or she easily topples over.
* aikido's version of the hip throw. "Nage" drops his or her hips lower than those of "uke", then flips "uke" over the resultant fulcrum.
* or Nihongo|figure-ten entanglement|十字絡み|jūjigarami a throw that locks the arms against each other (The kanji for "10" is a cross-shape: 十). [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Juji Garami
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2008
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=337
]
* "nage" sweeps the arm back until it locks the shoulder joint, then uses forward pressure to throw. [cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Kaitennage
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 2008
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/encyclopedia?entryID=342
]

Implementations

Aikido makes use of body movement ("tai sabaki") to blend with "uke". For example, an "entering" ("irimi") technique consists of movements inward towards "uke", while a Nihongo|"turning"|転換|tenkan technique uses a pivoting motion. [cite journal
last = Amdur
first = Ellis
title = Irimi
journal = Aikido Journal
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=686
] Additionally, an Nihongo|"inside"|内|uchi technique takes place in front of "uke", whereas an Nihongo|"outside"|外|soto technique takes place to his side; a Nihongo|"front"|表|omote technique is applied with motion to the front of "uke", and a Nihongo|"rear"|裏|ura version is applied with motion towards the rear of "uke", usually by incorporating a turning or pivoting motion. Finally, most techniques can be performed while in a seated posture ("seiza"). Seated techniques are called "suwari-waza".

Thus, from fewer than twenty basic techniques, there are thousands of possible implementations. For instance, "ikkyō" can be applied to an opponent moving forward with a strike (perhaps with an "ura" type of movement to redirect the incoming force), or to an opponent who has already struck and is now moving back to reestablish distance (perhaps an "omote-waza" version). Specific aikido "kata" are typically referred to with the formula "attack-technique(-modifier)".cite book
last = Taylor
first = Michael
title = Aikido Terminology - An Essential Reference Tool In Both English and Japanese
publisher = Lulu Press
year = 2004
isbn = 978-1411618466
] For instance, "katate-dori ikkyō" refers to any "ikkyō" technique executed when "uke" is holding one wrist. This could be further specified as "katate-dori ikkyō omote", referring to any forward-moving "ikkyō" technique from that grab.

"Atemi" ( _ja. 当て身) are strikes (or feints) employed during an aikido technique. Some view "atemi" as attacks against "vital points" meant to cause damage in and of themselves. For instance, Gōzō Shioda described using "atemi" in a brawl to quickly down a gang's leader.cite book
last = Shioda
first = Gōzō
authorlink = Gozo Shioda
coauthors = trans. by Payet, Jacques, and Johnston, Christopher
title = Aikido Shugyo: Harmony in Confrontation
publisher = Shindokan Books
year = 2000
isbn = 978-0968779125
] Others consider "atemi", especially to the face, to be methods of distraction meant to enable other techniques. A strike, whether or not it is blocked, can startle the target and break his or her concentration. The target may also become unbalanced in attempting to avoid the blow, for example by jerking the head back, which may allow for an easier throw.cite book
last = Shioda
first = Gōzō
authorlink = Gozo Shioda
title = Dynamic Aikido
publisher = Kodansha International
pages = 52–55
year = 1968
isbn = 978-0870113017
] Many sayings about "atemi" are attributed to Morihei Ueshiba, who considered them an essential element of technique. [cite web
last = Scott
first = Nathan
title = Teachings of Ueshiba Morihei Sensei
year = 2000
url = http://www.tsuki-kage.com/ueshiba.html
accessdate = 2007-02-01
]

Weapons

Weapons training in aikido traditionally includes the short staff (""), wooden sword ("bokken"), and knife ("tantō"). [cite book
last = Dang
first = Phong
title = Aikido Weapons Techniques: The Wooden Sword, Stick, and Knife of Aikido
publisher = Charles E Tuttle Company
year = 2006
isbn = 978-0804836418
] Today, some schools also incorporate firearms-disarming techniques. Both weapon-taking and weapon-retention are sometimes taught, to integrate armed and unarmed aspects, although some schools of aikido do not train with weapons at all. Others, such as the Iwama style of Morihiro Saito, usually spend substantial time with "bokken" and "jō", practised under the names "aiki-ken", and "aiki-jō", respectively. The founder developed much of empty handed aikido from traditional sword and spear movements, so the practice of these movements is generally for the purpose of giving insight into the origin of techniques and movements, as well as vital practice of these basic building blocks.cite book
last = Ratti
first = Oscar
coauthors = Westbrook, Adele
title = Secrets of the Samurai: The Martial Arts of Feudal Japan
publisher = Castle Books
year = 1973
pages = 23, 356–359
location = Edison, New Jersey
isbn = 978-0785810735
]

Multiple attackers and "randori"

One feature of aikido is training to defend against multiple attackers, often called "taninzudori", or "taninzugake". Freestyle ("randori", or "jiyūwaza") practice with multiple attackers is a key part of most curricula and is required for the higher level ranks.cite book
last = Ueshiba
first = Kisshomaru
coauthors = Moriteru Ueshiba
title = Best Aikido: The Fundamentals (Illustrated Japanese Classics)
publisher = Kodansha International
year = 2002
isbn = 978-4770027627
] "Randori" exercises a person's ability to intuitively perform techniques in an unstructured environment. Strategic choice of techniques, based on how they reposition the student relative to other attackers, is important in "randori" training. For instance, an "ura" technique might be used to neutralise the current attacker while turning to face attackers approaching from behind.

In Shodokan Aikido, "randori" differs in that it is not performed with multiple persons with defined roles of defender and attacker, but between two people, where both participants attack, defend, and counter at will. In this respect it resembles judo "randori".

Injuries

In applying a technique during training, it is the responsibility of "nage" to prevent injury to "uke" by employing a speed and force of application that is commensurate with their partner's proficiency in "ukemi". Injuries (especially those to the joints), when they do occur in aikido, are often the result of "nage" misjudging the ability of "uke" to receive the throw or pin. Aikido and injuries: special report by Fumiaki Shishida Aiki News 1989;80 (April); partial English translation of article re-printed in Aikido Journal [http://www.aikidojournal.com/article.php?articleID=8] ] cite encyclopedia
last = Pranin | first = Stanley
title = Aikido and Injuries
encyclopedia = Encyclopedia of Aikido
year = 1983
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=7&highlight=injuries
]

A study of injuries in the martial arts showed that while the type of injuries varied considerably from one art to the other, the differences in overall rates of injury were much less pronounced. Soft tissue injuries are one of the most common types of injuries found within aikido although a few deaths from repetitive "shihōnage" have been reported. [cite journal
last =Zetaruk | first =M
coauthors = M A Violán, D Zurakowski, and L J Micheli
title =Injuries in martial arts: a comparison of five styles
journal =British journal of sports medicine
volume =39 | issue =1
pages =29–33
publisher =BMJ Publishing Group
year =2005
url =http://bjsm.bmj.com/cgi/content/abstract/39/1/29
id =15618336
accessdate = 2008-08-15
doi =10.1136/bjsm.2003.010322
pmid =15618336
]

Mental training

Aikido training is mental as well as physical, emphasizing the ability to relax the mind and body even under the stress of dangerous situations.cite book
last = Hyams
first = Joe
title = Zen in the Martial Arts
publisher = Bantam Books
year = 1979
pages = 53-57
location = New York
isbn = 767-8300450
] This is necessary to enable the practitioner to perform the bold enter-and-blend movements that underlie aikido techniques, wherein an attack is met with confidence and directness.cite book
last = Homma
first = Gaku
title = Aikido for Life
publisher = North Atlantic Books
year = 1990
pages = 1-9
location = Berkeley, California
isbn = 978-1556430787
] Morihei Ueshiba once remarked that one "must be willing to receive 99% of an opponent's attack and stare death in the face" in order to execute techniques without hesitation. As a martial art concerned not only with fighting proficiency but also with the betterment of daily life, this mental aspect is of key importance to aikido practitioners.cite book
last = Heckler
first = Richard
title = Aikido and the New Warrior
publisher = North Atlantic Books
year = 1985
pages = 51-57
location = Berkeley, California
isbn = 978-0938190516
]

Criticisms

The most common criticism of aikido is that it suffers from a lack of realism in training. The attacks initiated by "uke" (and which "nage" must defend against) have been criticized as being "weak," "sloppy," and "little more than caricatures of an attack."cite journal
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
coauthors = Fisher, Alex
title = Aikido Practice Today
journal = Aiki News
volume = 86
publisher = Aiki News
location =
date = Fall 1990
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=123
accessdate = 2007-11-02
] [cite web
last = Ledyard
first = George S.
title = Non-Traditional Attacks
work =
publisher = www.aikiweb.com
month = June | year = 2002
url = http://www.aikiweb.com/training/ledyard3.html
format = html
accessdate = 2008-07-29
] Weak attacks from "uke" cause a conditioned response from "nage", and result in underdevelopment of the strength and conditioning needed for the safe and effective practice of both partners. To counteract this, some styles allow students to become less compliant over time but, in keeping with the core philosophies, this is after having demonstrated proficiency in being able to protect themselves and their training partners, Shodokan Aikido addresses the issue by practising in a competitive format. Such adaptations are debated between styles, with some maintaining that there is no need to adjust their methods because either the criticisms are unjustified, or that they are not training for self-defence or combat effectiveness, but spiritual, fitness or other reasons. [cite web
last = Wagstaffe
first = Tony
title = In response to the articles by Stanley Pranin - Martial arts in a state of decline? An end to the collusion?
work = Aikido Journal
publisher = www.aikidojournal.com
date = 30 March 2007
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=3104
format = html
accessdate = 2008-07-29
]

Another criticism is that after the end of Ueshiba's seclusion in Iwama from 1942 to the mid 1950s, he increasingly emphasized the spiritual and philosophical aspects of aikido. As a result, strikes to vital points by "nage", entering ("irimi") and initiation of techniques by "nage", the distinction between "omote" and "ura" techniques, and the practice of weapons, were all deemphasized or eliminated from practice. Lack of training in these areas is thought to lead to an overall loss of effectiveness by some aikido practitioners.cite journal
last = Pranin
first = Stanley
title = Challenging the Status Quo
journal = Aiki News
volume = 98
publisher = Aiki News
location =
year = 1994
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=12
accessdate = 2007-11-02
]

Alternately, there are some who criticize aikido practitioners for not placing enough importance on the spiritual practices emphasized by Ueshiba. The premise of this criticism is that "O-Sensei’s aikido was not a continuation and extension of the old and has a distinct discontinuity with past martial and philosophical concepts."cite journal
last = Shibata
first = Minoru J.
title = A Dilemma Deferred: An Identity Denied and Dismissed
journal = Aikido Journal
publisher = www.aikidojournal.com
year = 2007
url = http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=263
accessdate = 2007-12-09
] That is, that aikido practitioners who focus on aikido's roots in traditional jujutsu or "kenjutsu" are diverging from what Ueshiba taught. Such critics urge practitioners to embrace the assertion that " [Ueshiba's] transcendence to the spiritual and universal reality was the fundamentals ["sic"] of the paradigm that he demonstrated."

Ki

The study of "ki" is a critical component of aikido, and its study defies categorization as either "physical" or "mental" training, as it encompasses both. The original "kanji" for "ki" was _ja. 氣 (shown right), and is a symbolic representation of a lid covering a pot full of rice; the "nourishing vapors" contained within are "ki". [cite web
last = YeYoung
first = Bing F.
title = The Conceptual Scheme of Chinese Philosophical Thinking - Qi
publisher = Literati Tradition
url = http://www.literati-tradition.com/qi_breath.html
accessdate = 2007-02-12
]

The character for "ki" is used in everyday Japanese terms, such as Nihongo|"health"|元気|genki, or Nihongo|"shyness"|内気|uchiki. "Ki" is most often understood as unified physical and mental intention, however in traditional martial arts it is often discussed as "life energy". Gōzō Shioda's Yoshinkan Aikido, considered one of the "hard styles," largely follows Ueshiba's teachings from before World War II, and surmises that the secret to "ki" lies in timing and the application of the whole body's strength to a single point. In later years, Ueshiba's application of "ki" in aikido took on a softer, more gentle feel. This was his Takemusu Aiki and many of his later students teach about "ki" from this perspective. Koichi Tohei's Ki Society centers almost exclusively around the study of the empirical (albeit subjective) experience of "ki" with students ranked separately in aikido techniques and "ki" development. [cite web
last = Reed
first = William
title = A Test Worth More than a Thousand Words
year = 1997
url = http://www.b-smart.net/archive/test_article_0497.html
accessdate = 2007-08-11
]

Uniforms and ranking

Aikido practitioners, commonly called "aikidōka", generally progress by promotion through a series of "grades" ("kyū"), followed by a series of "degrees" ("dan"), pursuant to formal testing procedures. Most aikido organisations use only white and black belts to distinguish rank, but some use various belt colors. Testing requirements vary, so a particular rank in one organization is not always comparable or interchangeable with the rank of another.

The uniform worn for practicing aikido ("aikidōgi") is similar to the training uniform ("keikogi") used in most other modern martial arts; simple trousers and a wraparound jacket, usually white. Both thick ("judo-style"), and thin ("karate-style") cotton tops are used. Aikido-specific tops are also available with shorter sleeves which reach to just below the elbow.

Most aikido systems also add a pair of wide pleated black or indigo trousers called a "hakama". In many styles its use is reserved for practitioners with black belt ("dan") ranks or for instructors, while others allow all practitioners or female practitioners to wear a "hakama" regardless of rank.

References

External links

* [http://www.aikiweb.com AikiWeb Aikido Information] —a site on aikido, with essays, forums, gallery, reviews, columns, wiki and other information.
* [http://www.aikidofaq.com AikidoFAQ] —an informational aikido website, including articles, tips, and multimedia.


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