Although aikido is a relatively recent innovation within the world of
martial arts, it is heir to a rich cultural and philosophical background.
Aikido was created in Japan by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). Before creating
aikido, Ueshiba trained extensively in several varieties of jujitsu, as well
as sword and spear fighting. Ueshiba also immersed himself in religious
studies and developed an ideology devoted to universal socio-political
harmony. Incorporating these principles into his martial art, Ueshiba
developed many aspects of aikido in concert with his philosophical and
Aikido is not primarily a system of combat, but rather a means of
self-cultivation and improvement. Aikido has no tournaments, competitions,
contests, or "sparring." Instead, all aikido techniques are learned
cooperatively at a pace commensurate with the abilities of each trainee.
According to the founder, the goal of aikido is not the defeat of others,
but the defeat of the negative characteristics which inhabit one's own mind
and inhibit its functioning.
At the same time, the potential of aikido as a means of self-defense should
not be ignored. One reason for the prohibition of competition in aikido is
that many aikido techniques would have to be excluded because of their
potential to cause serious injury. By training cooperatively, even
potentially lethal techniques can be practiced without substantial risk.
It must be emphasized that there are no shortcuts to proficiency in aikido
(or in anything else, for that matter). Consequently, attaining proficiency
in aikido is simply a matter of sustained and dedicated training. No one
becomes an expert in just a few months or years.