Aikido training does not have kicks. They have of course one-two techniques to avoid and lock kicks, but do not have any. They have strike techniques called "atemi", but did not use kicks in general, and they avoid them.

Do you know why is that?

  • Some aikido derivatives have put them back in. Yoseikan Budo does some kicking, though I find that you have to be fast to kick aikido people and get away with it. As one of the answers suggests: better for disruption than big guns. Feb 23, 2012 at 21:11
  • While not an answer, Bruce Bookman Sensei (Tenzan Aikido--Seattle) has begun development of Aikido responses to kickboxing and Muay Thai, in an effort to make Aikido more "practical," rather than the traditional, sword-based art it was for decades.
    – Yehuda
    Feb 12, 2020 at 15:47

10 Answers 10


You will rarely, if ever, find a martial art that truly uses kicks above the knee*, unless that art is centered around kicks. Most art are very concerned about their balance, and use kicks for disruption, not necessarily for damage. Aikido mostly uses the feet and legs for footwork. Kicks would just take time away from footwork.

By the same token, because you don't see it doesn't mean it isn't there. If there are kicks in aikido, they may just not show up in your average self-defense application, but they might be very useful, as explained in the other answers.

* [Uh-oh, I should specify that kicks during practice can be higher, of course, without any loss of face from the art.]

  • 1
    Sweeps (which are kicks) above the knee, but I don't think that's part of conventional Aikido. Feb 23, 2012 at 22:10
  • Does this mean that san shou, karate, savate and muay Thai are all "centered around kicks"? I'd agree for muay Thai, but the others...? Jun 1, 2012 at 18:23
  • 1
    Except for taekwondo. I used to spar with a friend of mine who achieved a black belt in taekwondo. He rarely kicked below the knee. Jun 4, 2012 at 20:35
  • 1
    Modern sport TKD's excessive emphasis on kicks is from their scoring system. Very traditional TKD uses kicks more than any other art that I know of, but rarely even 50%. Aug 24, 2012 at 1:35
  • 1
    I don't think truly is the right word to be using to convey what you mean. It's hard to argue that a Muay Thai fighter might not rely entirely on kicks to the thigh, which is above the knee.
    – Robin Ashe
    Aug 24, 2012 at 10:28

First, you have to understand what Aikido is, and what it is not.

Aikido is the final culmination of Ueshiba Morihei's training in:

  • Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu
  • Tenjin Shin'yo-ryu Jujutsu
  • Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu Taijutsu (Goto Family Branch of Edo Line of Yagyu Shingan-ryu)
  • Numerous other forms of jujutsu (Ueshiba Morihei was a dabbler in his youth)
  • Omoto-kyo (A religious sect originating from Shinto, sharing many similarities to the American Spiritualism movements of the Victorian era)
  • Training of Military Personnel.

All of these were important aspects in the development of Aikido, though the two largest influences were undoubtedly Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu (in which he trained the longest), and Omoto-kyo which preached harmony and world peace.

It's this latter element that led away from teachings of atemi; the later aikido becoming much more about a "way of life" and harmony with ones attacker. This is not to say by any means that it's a weak art (as my old aikido instructor used to say, "There's a reason we say harm-ony"). In this way, aikido became much more about the aiki techniques/approach of Daito-ryu, which clearly was more inline with the Omoto-kyo teachings, as well as the fostering relationship between Ueshiba and Deguchi Onisaburo (the second spiritual leader of Omoto-kyo).

Prior to this time, Aikido was known as Aikibudo, and was being taught to military personnel. At this time, there was a great deal of atemi, both punching and kicking. Still, however, it's important to note that this was derived from Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu most heavily, and much of the movement in Daito-ryu is derived from sword work (kenjutsu).

In (if I recall correctly) Morihei Ueshiba & Aikido: Aiki Budo, some of the early clips of Aikibudo showed kicking that I felt were similar to that done in Yagyu Shingan-ryu (and many other forms of jujutsu, of course – The human body can only move so many ways). There are many schools, also, that have gone back to an older, more aikibudo feel, and incorporate kicks in their modern training. This has more to do with the instructor and his background than the art specifically.

Often times, when you're questioning the absence of something, it's best to track back through the history of the development of the art; Ueshiba Morihei did not invent anything profoundly new, but rather, like aikido teaches, redirected the energy of his art in a new direction.

  • harmony, is a greek word, come from αρμονία -> αρμός, armos -> means the connection, the joint, the point that you connect/join more than one thinks together in a way that they can not split/seperate. Eg when you dock the ship with cord, the point of connection called armos, when you connect the music notes together -> harmonia. (The harm-ony is false).
    – Aristos
    Feb 23, 2012 at 18:54
  • 7
    @Aristos: The "harm-ony" was a pun. It was not meant with any seriousness, but as a bit of humor to illustrate a point. This is simply lost in translation. As for your second comment, I'm afraid I don't understand your point. The reason for the "love and harmony" was not to spread the art, but because of a series of epiphanies he had during misogi.
    – stslavik
    Feb 23, 2012 at 19:05

Not sure if I understand this right: Your asking why Aikido has no kick attacks and not why Aikido has no techniques against kicks, correct?

Aikido, as it is today (at least the Aikido I have seen so far), has no attacks at all. It's principle is avoiding conflict on all levels. Attacking means conflict. Even the defensive techniques of Aikido are not about disabling the opponent. Instead they focus on harmonizing your energy with the attacking force and transforming the attack in something else. So praticed right there will be no fight and no opponent.

This is why Aikido has no attacks in any form.

  • aikido no have kick attacks. Have all the rest attacks and when you do the techniques you learn to strike together with the technique. Just this strikes are come with time and is not the first think that you learn, how ever have strikes. (called atemi). Says that atemi are 80% of the technique ! and with our some times you can not make technique work in real world
    – Aristos
    Feb 23, 2012 at 12:16
  • 4
    -1 Aikido does have atemi and attacks. For example, ikyo/ikajo/oshi taoshi (same techniques, different names) can be initiated by tori as a shomen uchi strike that uke blocks. Tori then can apply the technique on uke's elbow which is now in the "right" place. Feb 23, 2012 at 12:20
  • 2
    Well, there are different styles so saying "aikido has no attacks" is not correct in general. For example, the way I was taught atemi should be a real strike in order to either force the opponent to defend and thus lose the balance and enable your technique, or if he fails to defend - well, he gets punched in the face, that works too :) after that, his balance probably won't be that good either. Of course, compared to strike-oriented disciplines aikido gives much less attention to strikes, but that does not mean no attacks at all.
    – StasM
    Feb 26, 2012 at 11:19
  • 1
    Tomiki and Shotokan school use limited attacks. I believe Tomiki-sensei was once quoted as saying that 50% of your techniques should be shomen ate, and that the rest of the curriculum was only to be used if that didn't work. Yoshinkan uses atemi as a distraction to maintain kuzushi. Although I don't challenge Aristos' assertion, I think that the situation is more complicated.
    – MCW
    Aug 23, 2012 at 19:20
  • 1
    Aikido, unless it has been diluted to a new age exercise program, remains a martial system. Like -good- karatedo, it is a martial art of counter-response. That is, we respond to attacks, perhaps by deascalating, or perhaps by a powerful throw (which to someone not trained in ukemi can be fatal), or perhaps with atemi, a joint lock, or some other nasty. But the aggression--the attacks--are there. The classic shihonage done to someone who doesn't know how to fall breaks their arm and their shoulder, then slams their head into the ground at high speed. I would call that a counter attack.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Nov 29, 2012 at 23:20

Aikido does not expressively have attacking kicks. Several techniques do open uke to receive a kick but those kicks are not practices. It is assumed that the practitioner knows how to kick from a different art or uses a knee strike, or punches or does not bother with the strike and does the throw/pin directly.

Aikido does have a wide range of techniques that can be applied against a kick. Generally speaking, any kick is best avoided and not soaked.

  • The only kick that I remember is one on the face when you have the uke face down, or lower, but never make up/high kicks. Kicks that you upper your leg more than your knee.
    – Aristos
    Feb 23, 2012 at 19:05
  • How can a martial art "have a wide range of techniques that can be applied against a kick" if it "does not expressively have attacking kicks"? Do they hire other martial artists to kick them at training?
    – Vorac
    Mar 13, 2021 at 6:13

Aikido aims to protect yourself from injury, as well as your attacker (if possible). It aims to use very little, if any, force by itself, but instead redirect the attacker's force back onto the attacker.

A kick is pretty much the opposite. A kick intends to apply a great amount of force onto the target, trying to directly damage it, by force.


Stokman Sensei covers defenses against kicks in his book. I haven't consulted it in several months, but if I recall correctly, he was also puzzled.

As a young student I was told a teaching story - that part of the genesis of aikijutsu was when a Samurai lost his sword on the battlefield and had to take the sword away from an opponent. Most of the kicking and punching arts were limited by the opponents armor, but joint locks worked just fine. I doubt that has any authenticity as other than a legend, but I like the concept.

  • 2
    It'd be interesting to fit someone in full Samurai armour and see if they're actually capable of throwing kicks. Might not just be a belief that kicks against armour are ineffective, but also that kicks in armour are ineffective.
    – Robin Ashe
    Aug 24, 2012 at 10:31

I believe their are historical reasons for the lack of kicks, most of which have been mentioned in other answers including:

  • Aikido is partially descended from sword technique where it is less relevant
  • Aikido is descended from arts that were expected to be performed in classical Japanese armor, where kicking was less relevant
  • The ground work is a palace art, where standing up for anyone other than the daimyo and their guard could be a major infraction leading to punishment up to death--kicking is hard while kneeling
  • Aikido is partially desceneded from spear techniques, again where kicking is less relevant

So the question that seems to beg to be asked is: why hasn't aikido adopted kicking in all the years and all the styles?

I would propose the real answer is that any kick above about the ankles is far, far too easy to counter, and the counters are very, very devastating.

High kicks are the realm of sport styles with rules preventing the devestating counters that are possible to a well trained martial artist.

No one in their right mind (okay, why are we martial artists, then, but that is another question) would want to take the ukemi from kick defense practice!

  • 3
    You had me on the history...and lost me with the idea that kicks aren't useful for fighting. Nov 30, 2012 at 2:29
  • @Dave: I agree with SAJ14SAJ, since he specifically speaks about high kicks. I only have one example to back this up, which is a fight that I once saw across the street: One guy was trying kicks the other one's head. The other one could easily evade this an land several punches. Fight was over after 10 seconds... I believe that high kicks are ineffective, for two reasons: 1) They have a negative impact on your balance, and 2) The foot has to travel a rather long distance from the floor to the target, which gives the opponent time to adjust.
    – Treb
    Apr 30, 2014 at 7:59

simply because high kicks cause unbalence, which is very bad in aikido, because the tori may take adventage of it (as aikidokas are quick)

  • 1
    Notice that the question says nothing about "high kicks". My Yoseikan club practiced with kicks up to roughly the waist as technique, but only went higher than that to allow practice of responses. Jan 12, 2013 at 20:48
  • I know, I know. I talked about high kicks because I had an argument only for that. Apr 15, 2014 at 20:37
  • for low kicks and kicks in general I think it's because it causes a moving that gets you uselessly in the atemi range if you don't score on it and hurt the uke enough to pu him down. You can see that in Combat Sports like kick boxing, most of counter-attacks happen after a bad/missed kick, and aikido is very good at counter-attacks. Kicking a real experimented aikidoka is risking the health of your leg. Apr 15, 2014 at 20:45

Simply put: because the mat isn't that pretty. In my experience in Aikido, lifting the leg high will only set yourself up for a leg sweep or joint lock. When you are allowed to grab your opponent's kicking leg and sweep the knee, most people won't risk it. It's a good way to end your time in the ring for good.


There ARE kicks in Aikido. The most common reasons it is believed there are no kicks or even kick defenses in Aikido by aikidoka, by other martial artists or the public are as follows:

  • a student hasn't trained long enough to be shown the kicks or has not progressed far enough within Aikido to have been taught them
  • the instructor teaching them does not know any of them and quite possibly for the same reasons as cited. They never learned kicks themselves.

Most of the Grand Masters of Aikido knew kicks and kick defenses and freely taught them to their students. However as the generations pass, much knowledge is lost.

Aikido kicks, as an attack, certainly exist and are effective. Kicking techniques are taught and they range from front kicks to round house kicks, short snappy kicks and great thudding kicks.

The same fundamental movement principles govern how and when kicks are to be performed. Though admittedly, kicks tend not to be used to learn to be defended against, but the opposite, used as attacks when doing the techniques of Aikido (as in nage/tori of aikido) to clarify correct distancing, angles and timing - Ma-ai much as the same way atemi strikes are used.

Relative to the importance of what is to be learned and understood within Aikido, kicking as a traditional attack, does not occur often in Aikido.

Some reasons cited are valid, as in the balance argument, aikido techniques usually nullify kicks (when waza is performed well and at tempo by a competent exponent of aikido) and for minor cultural reasons also.

But, I think the most common perception of why there seems to be no kicking in Aikido, falls upon the practitioners and teachers themselves.

Many aikidoka hide behind the "harmony" aspect of the philosophy, meaning they never have to challenge themselves to dive into the depths of Budo to discover anything profound about themselves.

They explain it away in one sweeping statement as in, "Aikido is about peace and non conflict". I find this to be false. It fails the most common "Heroes Story" of finding light in the darkest places.

Aikido itself is a journey of self-discovery and one must search long and hard for one's self. Only a Master of Aikido who truly understands and has experienced conflict can explain away conflict and teach peace. This was the ultimate philosophy of O'Sensei Ueshiba Morihei, Founder of Aikido.

  • 2
    Answers and knowledge are welcome here, advertisement is not.
    – Mast
    Aug 7, 2020 at 8:14
  • Hey Man, please change your user name so it doesn't look like SPAM. Your answer isn't an advert, but your name looks that way. And do you have any link references or video or images you can add to your answer? Aug 9, 2020 at 1:24

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.