Virginia Aikikai of Newport News, VA
"The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself.
He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself and can say, "I am the universe."
What is Aikido?
Aikido is a martial art but it is different from other martial arts in that the practitioner seeks to achieve self defense without injury to attackers.
The Aikidoist tries to harmonize with their attacker rather than confront them, and converts the attack into a circular motion, converting the attacker's energy and attack to a circular motion to render the attacker helpless. Various wristlocks, arm pins, or unbalancing throws are then used to neutralize aggressors without serious injury. In contrast to other martial arts, you don't need pads, helmets, mouthguards or other protective devices, even when practicing at full speed.
Aikido is a relatively new martial art, although it is based on a number of very old martial arts, both unarmed and armed. Morihei Ueshiba, now called O-Sensei, founded what is now known as Aikido because he felt that most martial arts relied strictly on force and physical prowess, which would naturally fade with age. He felt that felling an opponent by force was not the Way, but instead it was important to "accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly product, protect, and cultivate all things in nature".
O Sensei's 3 principles of Aikido are:
Masa katsu... Victory over form or correct style of victory
Agatsu... Victory over self
Kiatsu Haya hi... Victory faster than light
Aikido has no competitive tournaments. The Aikidoist betters him or her self without belittling others. There are tests and ranks, however, but these are symbols of knowing certain techniques, rather than an indication that one person is "better" than another.
Why Practice Aikido?
Most importantly, Aikido develops self-improvement. Aikido is more than the study of physical techniques; proper etiquette, attitude and behavior are also emphasized. Throwing and falling are stressed equally - your partner is not an opponent, but an assistant: you acquire the technique by being thrown, and practice the technique by throwing.
Aikido has an ethic: to defend yourself without vengeance, to forgive your enemies, and to harmonize with any attack of any description. Aikido technique is a metaphor for a way to lead your life: avoid confrontations, harmonize with unavoidable ones, and maintain grace under pressure through good times and bad. Because Aikido doesn't depend on physical strength, it is especially attractive to women, children and older adults.