Aikido is the martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in Japan last century. A superior martial arts exponent, known to his students as O’Sensei, he described the practice of Aikido as “the way of harmony with the universal energy“. As explained by O’Sensei, the purpose of Aikido is to promote life and understanding, not to defeat others. In his words:“Aikido is not a technique to fight and defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family.”
The development of Aikido spanned over a quarter of a century and reached a zenith in 1942, when Master Ueshiba, retired to Iwama, then a small country town, to engage in a simpler life revolving around farming and the study of budo (martial ways). It was in Iwama that O’Sensei expanded his practice to include the use of the ken and jo and principles of swordsmanship. From that time on he called this art, Aikido. This integrated Aikido encompassed techniques to deal with multiple attackers, through a spirit of integration and harmony of movement. The historical facts of the development of Aikido are now well known thanks to researchers like Stanley A. Pranin, the publisher of Aikido Journal. There are also many wonderful resources available on the internet that provide an interesting summary of its key aspects.
A wonderful overview of the practice and philosophy of Aikido is provided by this video produced by Barry Tuchfeld Sensei of the Aikido Sarasota dojo. The video, available from YouTube explains O’Sensei’s development of Aikido and the practice of his student, Saito Sensei at O’Sensei’s private practice hall, the Ibaraki Dojo in Iwama.