Aikido 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", or as "the Way of harmonious spirit." 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 strength, as the aikidoka (aikido practitioner) "leads" the attacker's momentum using entering and turning movements. The techniques are completed with various throws or joint locks and pins to the ground. Aikido can be categorized under the general umbrella of grappling arts.
Aikido derives mainly from the martial art of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, but began to diverge from it in the late 1920s, partly due to Ueshiba's involvement with the Omoto-kyo religion. Ueshiba's early students' documents bear the term aiki-jujutsu. 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 may seem paradoxical but it is a philosophy that works and is shared by most Aikidoka.
"The Way of harmonious spirit."
The Kanji on the left is the representation for Aikido. They are translated as follows:
(Top) ai - joining, unifying, combining, fit
(middle) ki - spirit, energy, mood, morale
(Bottom) do - way, path
Morihei Ueshiba also known as O'Sensei
Founder of Aikido