Aikido (合気道 Aikidō, also 合氣道 using an older style of kanji, literally meaning "harmony energy way", or with some poetic license, "way of the harmonious spirit") is a gendai budo — a modern Japanese martial art.
Practitioners of aikido are known as aikidoka. It was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (植芝盛平) (also known by aikidoka as o-sensei (大先生) over the period of the 1930s to the 1960s. Technically, the major parts of aikido are derived from Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu (大東流合気柔術), a form of jujutsu with many joint techniques, and kenjutsu (剣術), or Japanese sword technique.

 ==Techniques ==
Aikido incorporates a wide range of techniques which use principles of energy and motion to redirect and neutralize the attack. At its highest level, aikido can be used to defend oneself without causing serious injury to either the aggressor or the defender. If performed correctly, size and strength are not important for efficency in the techniques. Aikido is considered one of the most difficult of the Japanese martial arts to gain proficiency in.

===Training ===
The methods of training vary from organization to organization and indeed even between different dojo in a single organization but typically, a class basically means that the teacher shows techniques or principles and the students imitate. Training is done through mutual technique not by sparring. Uke, the receiver of the technique, usually initiates an attack against nage or tori, who neutralizes it with an aikido technique. The uke and the nage have equally important roles. Students must practice both positions in order to learn to defend against an attack and to safely receive the defense. When o-sensei taught, all his students were uke until he deemed them knowledgeable enough of the technique to be nage. Movement, awareness, precision and timing are all important to the execution of techniques as students progress from rigidly defined exercises to more fluid and adaptable applications. Eventually, students take part in jiyu-waza and/or randori, where the attacks are less predictable. Some schools, such as Shodokan aikido, employ training methods wherein uke actively attempts to employ counter-techniques, or kaeshi-waza. In kata training, the objective of the student is to perfectly copy the style demonstrated by their teacher during a series of formal movements. This form of training is usually reserved for work with weapons. Its purpose is the preservation of traditional technique. Variation depends upon the particular style or teacher. O-Sensei didn't allow competition in training because some techniques are considered too dangerous and because he believed that competition didn't develop good character in students. Most styles of Aikido continue this tradition although Shodokan Aikido (see #Styles) is an exception.

====Attacks ====
Aikido attacks used in normal training include various stylized strikes and grabs such as shomenuchi (a vertical strike to the head), yokomenuchi (a lateral strike to the side of the head and/or neck), munetsuki (a straight punch), ryotedori (a two handed grab) or katadori (a shoulder grab). Attacks are seldom trained with the aim of perfection; they are needed to do aikido technique on, but not a goal in itself. Kicks are sometimes used, but seldom in standard curricula.

Aikido techniques are mostly based on keeping the attacker out of balance and locking joints. Much of Aikido's repertoire of defenses can be performed either as throwing techniques (nage-waza) or as controls (katame-waza), depending on the situation. Entering, irimi, and turning, tenkan, are widely used Aikido concepts, as is striking, atemi, although this is mostly performed as distraction rather than to hurt. Manipulation of uke's balance by entering is often referred to as "taking uke's center".

The name aikido is formed of three Japanese characters, 合気道, usually romanised as ai, ki and do. These are often translated as meaning harmony, energy and way, so aikido can be translated as "the way of harmony through energy". Another common interpretation of the characters is harmony, spirit and way, so aikido can also mean "the way of spiritual harmony". Both interpretations draw attention to the fact that aikido's techniques are designed to control an attacker by controlling and redirecting their energy instead of blocking the energy. An analogy is often made of the way a flexible willow bends with the storm whereas the stout oak will break if the wind blows too hard. (The Korean martial art commonly known as hapkido uses the same three characters and quite possibly there is a historical link through Daito Ryu, the main origin of aikido). Morihei Ueshiba developed aikido mainly from Daito Ryu aikijutsu, incorporating the training movements of yari (spear), jo (a short quarterstaff), and maybe also juken (bayonet). The influence of the sword is strong; in many ways, an aikido practitioner moves as an empty handed swordsman. The aikido striking attacks shomenuchi and yokomenuchi originate from weapon attacks. Some schools of aikido do no weapons training at all, others, such as Iwama Ryu spend half of their time with bokken (wooden sword), jo, and tanto (knife). In some lines of aikido, all techniques can be performed with a sword as well as unarmed. Aikido was brought to the United Kingdom in 1955, United States in the 1960s, to Australia in 1965 and to many other countries. Today there are many aikido dojos available to train at throughout the world.

The major styles of aikido each have their own Hombu Dojo in Japan; these define their various syllabi. The following is an incomplete list: *The largest aikido organisation is the Aikikai which is lead by family of the founder. Numerous sub-organisations and teachers affiliate themselves with this umbrella organisation, which therefore encompasses a wide variety of aikido training methods and technical differences. Prominent sub-organisations include the United States Aikido Federation (USAF), Aikido Schools of Ueshiba (ASU) headed by Mitsugi Saotome, and British Aikikai. *Iwama Juku, formerly known as Iwama Ryu. Headed by Hitohiro Saito, Morihiro Saito's son, it is an independent organisation. The Iwama style emphasizes the relation between weapon techniques and barehand techniques. *The Ki Society emphasizes very soft flowing techniques and has a special program for the development of ki. *Kokikai aikido, founded by Shuji Maruyama in 1986, focuses on minimalist but effective technique. It emphasizes natural stances and ukemi that do not require high breakfalls, and deemphasizes techniques that cause pain or undue discomfort to uke. As such, it is considered by some to be a "soft" style of aikido. *Shodokan Aikido (often called Tomiki aikido, after its founder) use sparring and rule based competition in training as opposed to most others. People tend to compete to train rather than to train to compete. *Yoshinkan has a reputation for being the most rigidly precise. Students of Yoshinkan aikido practise basic movements as solo kata, and this style has been popular among the Japanese police. *Yoshokai aikido, begun by then-hachidan Takashi Kushida-sensei of Yoshinkan aikido, is a remarkably centralized style of aikido, with test techniques yearly passed down with explanations from the home dojo. The syllabus contains a considerable amount of weapons study, and like Yoshinkan, Yoshokai includes many solo movements and exercises. == Aikidoka == It is sometimes said that in Japan the term aikidoka (合気道家) mainly refers to a professional while in the west, any one who practices may call themselves an aikidoka.

===List of famous Aikidoka===
The Ueshiba family members: *Morihei Ueshiba *Kisshomaru Ueshiba *Moriteru Ueshiba Other well-known Japanese aikidoka (in alphabetical order): *Michio Hikitsuchi *Shoji Nishio *Morihiro Saito *Kenji Shimizu *Gozo Shioda *Koichi Tohei *Kenji Tomiki

====Noted aikidoka in the USA====

====Noted aikidoka in Canada====

====Noted aikidoka in Europe====

=="Ki" in Aikido==

No article about Aikido can be complete without a discussion of the concept of Ki. Ki is often translated by Aikidoka as 'breath power', 'power', 'energy', or sometimes even as 'soul'. This 'ki' is the same as the 'qi' in qi-gong, but not the same as the 'chi' in t'ai chi. When aikidoka say that someone (usually a high ranking teacher) is training with a lot of ki, they usually want to express that the person in question has developed a high level of harmony in the execution of his technique. Timing, a sense for the correct distance and a centered (undisturbed) mind and body are particularly important. Most teachers claim to locate ki in the hara, which might be loosely defined as the body's center of gravity, situated in the lower abdomen, right under the navel. In training it is constantly emphasized that one should keep one's hara -- that is, remain centered -- in order not to lose the ki. Very high ranking teachers sometimes reach a level of coordination that enables them to execute techniques with very little apparent movement, sometimes even without seeming to touch their opponent's body. Essentially, Ki corresponds to the physical concepts of center of gravity, center of momentum, and center of force. However, these centers are not necessarily the same, so Ki also encompasses the biological and mental aspect of training oneself to have exquisite control over motion. Finally, there is a spiritual aspect of how exactly to achieve harmony over these centers. Of course, the spiritual interpretation of ki depends very much on what school of Aikido you study, as some emphasize it more than others. Aikikai dojos, for example, tend to spend much more time on ki-related training activities than do, for example, Yoshinkan dojos. The importance of ki in Aikido cannot be denied -- the name of the martial art, after all, can be loosely translated as "The way of cooperation with the ki", or "The way of harmony with the ki". But what ki is is debated by many within the discipline. O-Sensei himself appears to have changed his views over time -- for example, Yoshinkan Aikido, which largely follows O-Sensei's teachings from before the war, is considerably more martial in nature, reflecting a younger, more violent and less spiritual O-Sensei. Within this school, ki perhaps could be better thought of as having its original Chinese meaning of breath, and Aikido as coordination of movement with breath to maximize power. As O-Sensei evolved and his views changed, his teachings took on a much more spiritual feel, and many of his later students (almost all now high ranking Senseis within the Aikikai) teach about ki from a much more spiritual perspective.

Obsolete form of the Ki kanji

Regardless, this quote (from the Aikido FAQ) puts it plainly: "you may not believe in Ki, but you sure as hell cultivate it." Whether you think of ki as breath, spirit, or simply refrain from analyzing it too much, it is clear to any student of Aikido that the martial art makes extensive use of ki. Because of this, and because ki is often associated with spirituality, Aikido considered one of the more spiritual martial arts and has been referred to as "moving zen". Some believe that the physical entity ki does not exist, but rather is a concept used to teach spirit, intention, and coordination of the physical and psychological through relaxation and control. These aikidoka tend to frown on the overemphasis of the philosophical and spiritual aspects of ki. On the other side of the spectrum, some spiritually oriented aikidoka believe that ki does exist as a physical entity and can be transmitted through space. These tend to make use of concepts like "the ki of the universe", "extending ki", and so on. While the zealous in each group find the existence of interpretations other than their own frustrating, most middle-of-the-road aikidoka consider the disagreement to be a productive one for the greater Aikido community. Some people are turned off by spirituality, but nonetheless appreciate the martial art's beauty; the existence of non-spiritually minded schools allows these types of people to enjoy Aikido and benefit from it. Similarly, some people are not at all attracted by the physical/martial nature of Aikido, and consider its spirituality to be its most important quality -- these definitely benefit from dojos emphasizing spirituality. Regardless, aikidoka will no doubt continue their 'quest for ki'. O-sensei famously said that he was just an aikidoka like all of his students, and that he was only beginning to learn. See also: Qi, Qigong

== External links ==