Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed in the late 1920s and 30s by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. Aikido incorporates basic elements of other martial arts (mainly jujitsu and kenjutsu), but it does not use punching or kicking. An aikidoka (practitioner of Aikido) will not oppose an enemy head-on. Instead he/she blends with the motion of the attacker and redirects the force of the attack.
The word "aikido" consists of 3 parts:
- ai - union or harmony
- ki - energy or spirit
- do - way or path
so Aikido translates to "The way of combining energy" or "The way of harmonious spirit"
Traditionally, there is no competition in Aikido, nor is there a system of colored belts to indicate rank. However, there are forms of Aikido that do include a competitive element (e.g. Shodokan Aikido). 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.