Aikido


Aikido - Michele Quaranta Sensei 11a - video powered by Metacafe

Aikido is a modern Japanese budō, developed by Morihei Ueshiba between the 1920s and the 1960s. Aikido emphasizes the spiritual and philosophical development of its students. This is a direct result of Ueshiba's background in the Ōmoto-kyō religion, as well as Shinto and Buddhism.

Aiki, is a martial arts principle or tactic. It typically describes an idea of oneness or blending in the midst of combat. Aiki is considered an elevated form of, ai uchi ("mutual strike/kill"), the latter being a lethal and martial concept, Aiki is a more philosophical concept that describes blending without direct conflict.

The techniques of aikido can, when applied judiciously, divert or immobilize rather than damage or kill. As a result, some consider aikido to be a practical symbol of meeting aggression (physical, verbal, etc.) with an effective but merciful response, and finding harmony in conflict. Ueshiba declared, "To control aggression without inflicting injury is the Art of Peace."

Aikido was born out of three Enlightenment experiences of Ueshiba. In each of these, he felt a divine inspiration leading him away from the violent nature of his previous martial training towards a "spirit of peace". As Ueshiba would later remark "When life is victorious, there is birth; when it is thwarted, there is death. A warrior is always engaged in a life-and-death struggle for Peace."

Morihei Ueshiba, also known by practitioners of aikido as Ōsensei ("Great Teacher"), developed aikido mainly from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu, incorporating training movements such as those for the yari (spear), jō (a short quarterstaff), and perhaps also juken (bayonet). But arguably the strongest influence is that of kenjutsu and in many ways, an aikido practitioner moves as an empty handed swordsman. The aikido strikes shōmen'uchi and yokomen'uchi originated from weapon attacks, and resultant techniques likewise from weapon disarms.[citation needed] Some schools of aikido do not do weapons training at all; others, such as Iwama-ryū usually spend substantial time with bokken, jō, and tantō (knife). In some lines of aikido, all techniques can be performed with a sword as well as unarmed. Some believe there is a strong influence from Yagyū Shinkage-ryū on aikido.

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. He was followed by Tadashi Abe in 1952 who came as the official Aikikai Honbu 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. Subsequently, in the same year, Koichi Tohei was sent by Aikikai Honbu for a full year to Hawaii setting up several dojo. This was backed up by several further visits and is thus considered the formal introduction of aikido to the United States. The United Kingdom followed in 1955, Germany and Australia in 1965. Today there are many aikido dojo available to train at throughout the world.

Although the nomenclature varies between styles some techniques common to nearly all aikido styles are listed below (using Aikikai terminology):

* Ikkyō- (first technique) a control applied to the elbow and shoulder, loosely described as "pushing their elbow over their head". This grip also applies pressure into the ulnar nerve on the medial side of the arm.
* Nikyō- (second technique) adductive pressure applied to a combination of nerves and wrist bones that immobilizes the opponent. Like ikkyō, this pressure should transfer through the arm to the shoulder, to lock out the entire body.
* Sankyō- (third technique) a pronating technique that directs upward-spiraling pressure up from the wrist through the shoulder.
* Yonkyō- (fourth technique) a shoulder-controlling technique from a forearm grip. The applier of the technique also often uses his or her knuckles (from the palm side) to compress the recipient's radial nerve against the periosteum of the forearm bone.

* Shihōnage- (four-direction throw) a technique wherein the recipient's hand is folded back past his or her shoulder, locking the shoulder joint.
* Kotegaeshi- (wrist-return) a supinating wristlock-throw that stretches the extensor digitorum.

* Kokyūnage- (breath throw) a term for various types of flowing "timing throws".

* Iriminage- (entering-body-throw) a throw that visually resembles a "clothesline" or "body slam", although the application varies from hooking the arm under the opponent's jaw and forcing him straight to the ground, to gently leading his attention with the arm/hand so that he falls backwards of his own volition.

* Tenchinage- (heaven-earth-throw) a throw classically executed when both of the thrower's wrists are being held by the recipient. Moving forward, the thrower sweeps one hand low ("earth") and the other high ("heaven"), which unbalances the opponent so that they easily topple over when another step is taken.

Training is done through mutual technique, where the focus is on entering and harmonising with the attack, rather than on meeting force with force. Uke, the receiver of the technique, usually initiates an attack against nage (also referred to as tori or shite depending on aikido style), who neutralises this attack with an aikido technique.

Uke and nage have equally important roles. The role of uke is to be honest and committed in attack, to use positioning to protect oneself, and to learn proper technique through the imbalanced feeling created by the technique. The role of nage is to blend with and neutralise uke's attack without leaving an opening to further attacks. Simultaneously nage will be studying how to create a feeling of being centered (balanced) and in control of the application of the aikido technique. Therefore, students must practise as both uke and nage to learn.

One of the first things taught to new students is how to fall safely. Tumbling and break-falls are an important part aikido. This assures uke's safety during class and permits sincere execution of the technique. The word for this skill is ukemi, which means "receiving".

Because the techniques of aikido can be very harmful if applied too strongly, the level of practice possible depends on the ability of uke to receive the technique, as much as it depends on the "nage"'s application. In applying the technique, it is the responsibility of nage to prevent injury to uke by employing a speed and force of application that is appropriate for the abilities of uke. Constant communication is essential so that both aikidōka may take an active role in ensuring safe and productive practice.

Movement, awareness, precision, distance and timing are all important to the execution of techniques as students progress from rigidly defined exercises to more fluid and adaptable applications. Eventually, students take part in jiyu-waza (free technique) and/or randori, where the attacks are less predictable. Most schools employ training methods wherein uke actively attempts to employ counter-techniques, or kaeshi-waza.

Ueshiba did not allow competition in training because some techniques were considered too dangerous and because he believed that competition did not develop good character in students.[citation needed] Most styles of aikido continue this tradition, although Shodokan Aikido began holding competitions shortly after its formation. In the Ki Society there are forms (taigi) competitions held from time to time.

It is sometimes said that aikido contains only defence, and the attacks that are performed are not really aikido. From a historical perspective this claim is questionable, but many if not most aikidōka have the defence techniques as the focus of their training. Much of aikido's repertoire of defences can be performed either as throwing techniques (nage-waza) or as pins (katame-waza), depending on the situation.

An irimi style technique consists of movements inward, toward the uke, while tenkan style involves involve a slight retreat from or orbit around the point of attack. An uchi ("inside") style technique takes place towards the front of uke, whereas a soto ("outside") style technique takes place to his side; an omote version of a technique is applied in front of him, whereas an ura version is applied using a turning motion; and most techniques can be performed when either uke or nage (or both) are kneeling. Thus from less than 20 basic techniques, there are literally thousands of possible actions depending on the attack and the situation. Ueshiba said there are 2,664 techniques.[citation needed]

There is also the matter of atemi, or strikes employed during an aikido technique. Some view atemi as strikes to "vital points" that can be delivered during the course of a technique's application, to increase effectiveness. Others consider atemi to be methods of distraction, particularly when aimed at the face. For instance, if a movement would expose the aikido practitioner to a counter-blow, they may deliver a quick strike to distract the attacker or occupy the threatening limb. (Such a strike will also usually break the target's concentration, making them easier to throw than if they are able to focus on resisting.) Most throws rely on either unbalancing or abrupt application of atemi.

Whether the intent is to disable or merely to distract, a sincere atemi should force uke to respond in a manner that makes the application of the technique more effective. Many sayings about atemi are attributed to Morihei Ueshiba, although their precise content can vary considerably depending on who tells them.

Students will learn the various attacks from which an aikido technique can be practiced. Although attacks aren't studied to the extent of some other arts, honest attacks are needed to study correct and effective application of technique. An honest attack would be an attack with full intention or a strong grab or immobilizing hold.

Aikido attacks used in normal training include various stylized strikes and grabs such as shōmen'uchi (a vertical strike to the head), yokomen'uchi (a lateral strike to the side of the head and/or neck), mune-tsuki (a punch to the chest), ryōte-dori (a two handed grab) or kata-dori (a shoulder grab). Many of the -uchi strikes resemble blows from a sword or other weapon.

One of the central martial philosophies of aikido is handling multiple-attackers. Randori, or jiyūwaza (freestyle) practice against multiple opponents, is a key part of most curriculae and is required for the higher level ranks. Randori develops, like an exercise, a person's ability to perform without thought, with their mind and body coordinated. The continued practice of having one opponent after another coming at you without rest develops the awareness and the connection between mind and body.

Shodokan Aikido randori differs in that it is not done with multiple persons, but between two people with both participants able to attack, defend and resist at will. As in judo, the role of uke and nage does not exist.

Weapons training in aikido usually consists of jō (approx. 50 inch tall staff), bokken (wooden sword), and wooden tantō (knife). Both weapon-taking and weapon-retention are sometimes taught, to integrate the armed and unarmed aspects of aikido.

The vast majority of aikido styles use the kyū/dan ranking system common to gendai budō, however the actual requirements for each belt level differs between styles, so they are not necessarily comparable or interchangeable. Some organisations of aikido use coloured belts for kyū levels, and some do not.

The aikidōgi used in aikido is similar to the keikogi used in most other modern budō arts; simple trousers and a wraparound jacket, usually white.

To the keikogi, some systems add the hakama. The hakama is usually black or indigo and usually reserved for practitioners with dan (black belt) ranks.

Although some systems use many belt colours similar to the system in judo, the most common version is that dan ranks wear a black belt, and kyū ranks white - sometimes with an additional brown belt for the highest kyū ranks.

The Japanese character for ki, (Qi in Chinese) is a symbolic representation of a lid covering a pot full of rice. The steam being contained within, is ki. This same word is applied to the ability to harness one's own 'breath power', 'power', or 'energy'. Teachers describe ki as coming from the hara, situated in the lower abdomen, about two inches below and behind the navel. In training these teachers emphasize that one should remain "centered".

But what ki is, is debated by many within the discipline. Ueshiba himself appears to have changed his views over time -- for example, Yoshinkan Aikido, which largely follows Ueshiba's teachings from before the war, is considerably more martial in nature, reflecting a younger, more violent and less spiritual man. Within this school, ki perhaps could be better thought of as having its original Chinese meaning of breath, and aikido as coordination of movement with breath to maximize power. As Ueshiba evolved and his views changed, his teachings took on a much more ethereal feel, and many of his later students teach about ki from this perspective.

Aikido training is for all-around physical fitness, flexibility, and relaxation. The human body in general can exert power in two ways: contractive and expansive. Many fitness activities, for example weight-lifting, emphasize the former, which means that specific muscles or muscle groups are isolated and worked to improve tone, mass, and power. The disadvantage of this, however, is that whole body movement and coordination are rarely stressed. Thus, while muscle size and power may increase, there is no emphasis on the ways in which those muscles can work together most efficiently. Also, this sort of training tends to increase tension, decrease flexibility, and stress the joints. The result may be aesthetically pleasing, but when done to excess may actually be detrimental to overall health.

The second type of power, expansive, is mostly stressed in activities such as dance or gymnastics. In these activities, the body must learn to move in a coordinated manner and with relaxation. Aikido also mostly stresses this sort of training. While both types of power are important, it is interesting to note that a person who masters the second type of power can, in a martial context, often overcome a person who is much bigger or stronger. The reason for this is that the contractive power is only as great as the mass and power of your individual muscles. Expansive power, however, as used in aikido, can be much greater than your size may lead you to believe. This is because you move with your whole body. Rather than stressing and tensing only a few muscles, you learn to relax and move from the centre of your body, where you are most powerful. Power is then extended out naturally through the relaxed limbs, which become almost whip-like in their motion. Needless to say, the power behind an entire person's body will be more than that of someone's arm or leg alone.

Hence, aikido develops the body in a unique manner. Aerobic fitness is obtained through vigorous training. Flexibility of the joints and connective tissues is developed through various stretching exercises and through the techniques themselves. Relaxation is learned automatically, since without it the techniques will not function. A balanced use of contractive and expansive power is mastered, enabling even a small person to pit their entire body's energy against their opponent.

With this, different masters stress different aspects of training. Some masters stress importance of body posture while executing the technique in order to coordinate different parts of the body, while others deal with the physical aspects of it. With each way, comes a different means of interpretation of the same basic principles of the art which is discussed in more detail above.

Aikido training does not consider the body and mind as independent entities. The condition of one affects the other. For example, the physical relaxation learned in aikido also becomes a mental relaxation. Likewise, the confidence that develops mentally is manifested in a more confident style. Psychological or spiritual insight learned during training must become reflected in the body, else it will vanish under pressure, when more basic, ingrained patterns and reflexes take over. Aikido training requires the student to squarely face conflict, not to run away from it. Through this experience, an aikido student may learn to face other areas of life in a similarly proactive fashion, rather than with avoidance and fear.

The major styles of aikido each have their own honbu dojo in Japan, have an international breadth, and were founded by direct students of Morihei Ueshiba. Although there has been an explosion of "independent styles" generally only the first six listed are considered major.

* Aikikai is the largest aikido organisation, and is led by the family of the founder. Contains many affiliated and sub-organizations.

* Yoshinkan founded by Gozo Shioda, has a reputation for being the most rigidly precise.

* Yoseikan was founded by Minoru Mochizuki, who was an early student of Ueshiba and also of Jigoro Kano at the Kodokan.

* Shodokan Aikido founded by Kenji Tomiki, use sparring and rule based competition in training as opposed to most others.

* The Ki Society founded by Koichi Tohei, emphasizes soft flowing techniques and has a special program developing of ki.

* Iwama style emphasizes the relation between weapon techniques and barehand techniques.

* Shin'ei Taido founded by the late Noriaki Inoue, nephew of Morihei Ueshiba.

* Yoshokai Aikido, begun by then-hachidan Takashi Kushida of Yoshinkan aikido.

* Tendoryu Aikido Headed by Kenji Shimizu.

* Shin Budo Kai headed by Shizuo Imaizumi.

* Kokikai Aikido, founded by Shuji Maruyama in 1986.

* Seidokan Aikido, founded by Rod Kobayashi.

* Nippon Kan Headed by Gaku Homma.

* Nishio Aikido a part of the Aikikai although techically well defined according to its head Shoji Nishio.

* Takemusu Aiki Tomita Academy. Academy for the development of Takemusu Aiki founded in 1992 by Takeji Tomita.

* Aiki Manseido Headed by Kanshu Sunadomari. Independent style centred in Kyūshū, Japan.

* Fugakukai International Aikido. Has roots in the Shodokan style, but without the competition element.

The above styles can trace their lineage through senior students back to the founder of aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. Two further well known martial arts use the name aikido but do not have this direct connection. They are Korindo Aikido founded by Minoru Hirai and Nihon Goshin Aikido founded by Shodo Morita. These schools, with some historical justification, suggest that the name aikido is not the exclusive domain of arts derived from the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba. Schools of Daito-ryu have refered to themselves as aikido in the past and the Korean art of hapkido uses the same kanji in its name.

It is sometimes said that in Japan the term aikidoka mainly refers to a professional, while in the west, anyone who practices may call themselves an aikidōka. The term aikidoist is also used as a more general term, especially by those who prefer to maintain the more restricted, Japanese, meaning of the term aikidoka.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

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