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Aikido is a Japanese martial arts focused on redirecting an attack away from you. This martial arts style involves grabs, strikes, throws, pins and joint locks. Steven Seagal, the movie actor, is a famous student of Aikido.
While some Aikido techniques may look odd (i.e. Why do they have a defense against a knife hand strike to the top of the head? No one does that!), these were originally designed to stop a samurai's sword attack. Moreover, these types of Aikido techniques are useful in order to defend against attackers armed with clubs, sticks, etc.
According to the Aikido Association of America, Aikido practices "techniques against a variety of attacks such as kicks, punches, strikes, single-hand or two-hand grabs from the front or rear, chokes, multiple person attacks, and attacks with weapons. In all of these we strive to resolve the conflict in a non-lethal, non-disruptive, yet effective manner. Techniques may end in joint locks or immobilizations, or in dynamic motions where the attacker is thrown forwards or backwards across the mat, or through the air into a spectacular breakfall. Rather than primarily linear motions, Aikido is comprised of blending, turning, pivoting, circling, and spiraling."
History of Aikido
According to United States Aikido Federation, "Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba. To practitioners of Aikido he is more commonly known as O-Sensei (“Great Teacher”). O-Sensei was born on December 14, 1883 in Tanabe City, Japan. As a young man he explored many martial arts including judo, kendo and jujitsu. In 1912, he and his wife, Hatsu, moved to Hokkaido where he began studying Daito-ryu jujitsu under the guidance of Sokaku Takeda Sensei. O-Sensei studied intensively, becoming quite technically proficient; however, his spiritual unrest mounted as his awareness of the futility of a path based on victory over others came to light. Transformed by his spiritual insights, O-Sensei’s technical mastery evolved into a martial art of refinement and astonishing power, fundamentally different from those that preceded it. His heightened spiritual quest for harmony and peace rather than defeat led him to develop the martial art of Aikido.
"The secret of Aikido," he wrote, "is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring our selves into accord with the universe itself." O-Sensei maintained that budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in our selves and bring peace to the world, "to make the heart of the universe one's own heart."
In 1927, O-Sensei moved to Tokyo where he founded his first dojo, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, which still exists today as the Aikido World Headquarters. On April 26, 1969, O-Sensei passed away, leaving his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, to become Aikido Doshu ("Aikido Headmaster") of the Aikikai World Headquarters. Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu was in turn succeeded by his son and O-Sensei’s grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu in January 1999, who to this day continues to spread the art of Aikido throughout the world."