Starting Out In Aikido

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba (whom Aikido students refer to as O-Sensei or Great Teacher). O-Sensei was a major figure in the history of martial arts, and his work in the past century was in many ways a quantum leap in the evolution of martial arts. On his passing in 1969, his son Kisshomaru Ueshiba took control of the Aikikai up until his passing on 4th January 1999. Kisshomaru’s son Moriteru Ueshiba is now the present Doshu of the Aikikai and is based at Hombu ( Aikikai World Headquarters) in Tokyo Japan.

What will Aikido teach you?

Students of Aikido practice how to use their body and mind in a natural and efficient way. Aikido highlights many different types of attack with responses including throws, holds, joint locks, pins, and disarming techniques. In addition to unarmed training, Aikido practice also includes learning how to use weapons such as the Bokken (Wooden Sword), Jo (Wooden Staff), and Tanto (Wooden Knife). Many observers perceive elements of other martial arts when watching an Aikido class; however, Aikido has many unique technical features including a particular approach to using movement, timing, and reaction. Based around a basic core with infinite variations, Aikido also develops judgment, balance, and increased awareness.

What do people expect to gain as a result of training in Aikido?

Aikido has many features, and consequently, the reasons for practicing can vary. Some people want to learn self-defense, others movement. Some have heard of the idea of turning the energy of the attack against the attackerย”, while others are interested in the translation of philosophy into physical movement. Some people do it simply for exercise. One common theme is that an individual who practices Aikido (Aikidoka) enjoys the practice in itself, and the sense of well-being and centeredness that comes with it, as well as the challenge of learning Aikido’s core techniques. It is difficult to say what benefits it will bring until you actually begin training.

Who can practice Aikido?

Aikido is available to anyone who wants to learn it. Within certain associations, children are permitted to learn, however, the emphasis on juniors being taught does differ somewhat from adults. Because children below a certain age are not yet fully developed in their joints, it could cause permanent injury for them later in life if the techniques were not applied with care. Due to these issues, the teaching is restricted to protect the children and as a result, techniques have to be readjusted at a later date. Age limits do differ in various associations so it is advisable to check with different clubs how their insurance works.

Does Aikido work?

Aikido is a martial art, and as such, a fundamental requirement is that it works as a self-defense system. It is rooted in the pragmatic study of martial effectiveness. However, its range of techniques takes a long time to master, and you should not expect instant proficiency but Aikido can still be effective even after only a few lessons. Some schools of Aikido practice a more stylized format emphasizing large flowing movement and relying on their partner working with them to make the technique work. Some other schools of Aikido look towards using smaller and tighter movements to unbalance and control their opponent, sometimes using striking methods to unbalance or disorientate.

There are now many schools of Aikido in the UK ranging from the practical to the esoteric. Because of the non-aggressive approach to Aikido, many police forces around the world use Aikido as a basis of control and restraint. You may hear people telling you that Aikido is not as effective as other martial arts, but if this was true, police forces would not use it on a daily basis to not only protect themselves but the people they are restraining.


Be sure that Aikido is the martial art for you. This art is, as said in the previous article, probably the most subtle of all the martial arts, so you must give your time and commitment from the beginning.

Try and train twice or more times a week. If you only train once, you will not see much progress in your Aikido. Once you are comfortable with the break falling and basic techniques of Aikido, attend a class where there will be more experienced students practicing. Don’t forget, training with someone of the same rank and ability as yourself is in reality the blind leading the blind. Get with senior students, they can and will help you.

For any more information and a more detailed look into an Aikido association please log onto This association, formed by Sensei Shane Riley 6th Dan, is a well-respected association in the UK. Sensei Riley has also been invited to many dojos around the world to teach his very effective and practical style of Aikido. The association has dojos around West Yorkshire and in the Northeast, so if you are in any of these areas, please visit the website for contact details of the dojos and instructors in your area.

Written By Ashley Scholefield, more at White Rose Aikikai

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