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Aikido and the Art of Living | Principles for Character Development
Ai - Meaning | Ki - Meaning | Do - Meaning

The meaning of AIKIDO

Ai-Ki-Do - What does it mean?


Whenever I move, that's Aikido." - O'Sensei

Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to by his title 'O Sensei' or 'Great Teacher'). On a purely physical level it is an art involving some throws and joint locks that are derived from jiu-jitsu and some throws and other techniques derived from kenjutsu. Aikido focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on using their own energy to gain control of them or to throw them away from you.

It is not a static art, but places great emphasis on motion and the dynamics of movement. Upon closer examination, practitioners will find from Aikido what they are looking for, whether it is applicable self-defence technique, spiritual enlightenment, physical health or peace of mind. O'Sensei emphasised the moral and spiritual aspects of this art, placing great weight on the development of harmony and peace.

"The Way of Harmony of the Spirit" is one way that "Aikido" may be translated into English. This is still true of Aikido today, although different styles emphasise the more spiritual aspects to greater or lesser degrees. Although the idea of a martial discipline striving for peace and harmony may seem paradoxical, it is the most basic tenet of the art. We could attempt to pigeonhole Aikido into a synopsis of X number of words, but that would not do it justice, so we leave the practitioner of Aikido to find out what Aikido is for themselves without any preconceived notions.

Aikido is a highly refined martial art, developed last century as a means of self-defence and spiritual training. The art of Aikido develops coordination of mind and body. Through its philosophy and techniques, Aikido brings us into harmony with our environment, other people and ourselves. Unlike many martial arts, Aikido requires no particular advantage in strength or speed, and is practiced successfully by people of all ages and abilities.

Aikido practice develops flexibility, coordination, concentration, improved health and fitness, effective communication skills and self-esteem.

"The Art of Peace" - Aikido from the philosophy to the mat

The physical aspects of Aikido, as graceful and dynamic as they can be, are only the outward manifestation of what is most importantly a real and direct way to improve the quality of our lives.

Real training begins when students learn to maintain mind and body coordination under the stress of rapid movement and coordinated attack. The non-competitive nature of Aikido training adds a dimension of mutual trust and protection. This attitude of trusting care becomes an integral part of the developmental process of your interaction with the environment.

Aikido was born as a way to divert harm from oneself without inflicting permanent injury on an aggressor. As Aikido developed, it became clear that it was not only an effective means of self defense, but also a way to understand earthly life through the study of the energy flow of the universe. Aikido is not an art about minimising or avoiding stress. Rather, it is about dealing with crises and conflicts in such a way as to maintain stability and poise in the midst of challenge.

ki is extending Aikido is not purely intellectual undertaking; it is learned and expressed through the techniques. The philosophy of Aikido comes to life only when you practice and live it. Through daily training, clear insights into areas of form, motion, attitudes, habits, spiritual ideals and human relations develop. Aikido is a martial art that enables practitioners to live positively and to their full potential, without weakness or self-imposed limitations. Aikido trains us to have a universal spirit that loves and protects all creation and helps all things grow and develop.

The goal of Aikido is there for all to achieve - to explore our full human potential and become an integrated and balanced individual, a person in harmony with others.

Principles for Character Development.

Not all of the following attributes can be actively cultivated, but they are all characteristics of a person who has mastered the art of mind and body unification. These qualities are universally admired, and serve as reminders of the ultimate purpose of Ki training: the development and growth of ourselves as human beings.
  • Develop a universal mind.
  • Love and protect all you meet.
  • Show gratitude for all you have.
  • Do good in secret without expecting reward.
  • Have soft eyes and a composed manner.
  • Be large-hearted and forgiving.
  • Think deeply and see clearly.
  • Maintain a spirit of unshakeable composure.
  • Be vigorous and full of energy.
  • Persevere as long as you live.

Ai - Harmony

The movements are circular and flowing Central to Aikido is the idea of being in harmony with your opponents, rather than in conflict with them. The movement and energy of an attack is redirected without the need for collision or the use of force. The physical practice of this fundamental principle of Aikido leads to a better understanding of people and nature, while teaching essential skills for the resolution of conflict.

The movements of Aikido are circular and flowing. They are designed on the principles of nature and move in circles and spirals. When Aikido is performed well there is great beauty and composure in the movements of both partners.

Ki - Life Energy

unbendable arm Ki is universal energy, which gives life and vitality to all things. Developing both an understanding of Ki principles and the ability to direct and use Ki are an integral part of Aikido training.

Relaxation exercises, breathing methods, meditation, Kiatsu therapy (healing with Ki), bokken (wooden sword), and jo (wooden staff) are used to help students master Ki principles by giving them the opportunity to experience Ki with their own minds and bodies.

Understanding and developing Ki is a way of enhancing your natural strengths and abilities. As you begin to understand Ki principles, you will in turn develop creative and practical new ways to apply these principles to your daily life.

In Praise of the Ki of the Universe.
Vast is the universe and boundless with Ki.
What superb vitality it contains.
Spinning the heavenly bodies, ruling the earth,
Moistening mountains with streams throughout the four seasons.
Filling us full of life.
Without colour or odour or form,
Mystery to our forebearers,
Who thought it to be beyond the grasp of Man.
At last the time has come
When here and now we can experience the essence of Ki
With our own minds and bodies.

Master Koichi Tohei

Do - The Way

The Aikido dojo (meaning "place of the way") provides a secure and friendly environment where we can begin to see and understand our fears, anxieties, reactions and habits. Aikido training is entirely non-competitive and fosters an attitude of support and cooperation.

The total concentration and discipline required during Aikido training brings discipline and focus to our daily life. Aikido challenges us to constantly improve our skills and to attempt new things. By successfully achieving these new skills, we gain confidence in our ability to maintain stability and poise in the everyday challenges of our lives.

this man has poise

Aikido and the Art of Living

Aikido means 'The Way of Union with Ki' or 'The Way to Harmony of the Spirit'. Aikido was developed in this century as an art of self defence and spiritual training. Unlike some martial arts, Aikido requires no particular advantage in age, size, strength, or speed in order to perform well.

However, Aikido is not merely an art of self defence: into its techniques are woven elements of philosophy, psychology and dynamics. As you learn the various arts, you will also train the mind, improve health and develop self-confidence.

The movements of Aikido are circular and flowing. They are designed on the principles of nature and move in circle and spirals following paths of Ki. When performed well, that is, with mind and body coordinated, there is a great beauty and composure in the movement in both partners.

Aikido requires you to put aside much of what you have learned in life and open yourself to new and better ways. You must relearn your most basic skills of breathing, moving and seeing. You will explore balance, relaxation and natural concentration. You will enhance those communication skills which allow you to discover what you want in life and how to achieve in elegantly and powerfully. Nothing could be more challenging or more rewarding.

The most unusual aspect of Aikido is that it takes as the basis of its philosophy the idea of being in harmony with your opponents, rather than in conflict with them. Accepting the natural way that people's bodies move and energies flow results in successful Aikido.


"Every new day begins with possibilities. It's up to us to fill it
with the things that move us toward progress and peace."