The History of Aikido
Aikido (pronounced "eye-key-dough") is a modern Japanese martial "way" that was formulated over the last seventy years.  It was founded by Ueshiba Morihei (1883-1969), a man with great martial skill and a very strong interest in religious subjects.  From his youth, Ueshiba studied a number traditional martial arts handed down from the samurai past, particularly an unusual style of "jujutsu".  Greatly saddened by his father's death in 1919, he jointed a Shinto revivalist sect.  The philosophy of this "new religion" profoundly influenced his approach to martial studies.  He came to realize that the origin of "true marital virtue" is rooted not in violence but in universal "love".  After this realization, he spent the 1920s adapting aspects of his martial arts into a form of training for both the body and the spirit.  During the 1930, he attracted many talented followers and by 1941 his creation was being called AIKIDO.  At that time, it had a reputation in Japan as an art limited to a few highly recommended individuals.  After WWII, Aikido was opened to the public and gradually spread around the world, especially after about 1960.  Today it is recognized as one of the major modern martial arts of Japan and the only one that does not use competitive matches as a training method.

Doshu Chronology

As mentioned on the etymology page, the word AIKIDO can have various nuances.  Among them is the meaning "a way of life in harmony with the natural life forces of the universe."  These words imply the technical content and main goals of the art.  Each person naturally partakes of the universal ki (life force) but practitioners strive to become more conscious of this fact.  First we attempt to become aware of this energy as it originates from our center of balance in the lower abdomen (our "one point") and flows up and down through our limbs providing unity and power.  Next we attempt to "extend" this power outward in order to link up with our training partner (aite).  This connection takes the form of defensive movements that "blend" with the power (ki) of an attacker by means of tangential, spherical, and spiraling movements.  Such techniques are said to partake of the same natural forces manifested in galaxies, tornadoes, or whirlpools.  Rather than meeting force with force, aikidoka seek strategies that defuse violence by becoming "one with the attack."  We are said to "lead" the attacker to a more "peaceful" resolution of the confrontation.  First we unify the self, then we unify with others, finally we unify with the universal principle of "love".  In this sense, our martial training becomes a metaphor for the spiritual quest.  Aikido training becomes an outward symbol of our hope for peaceful relationships between all the peoples of the world.

Aikido is not an intellectual process.  It is a form of physical and mental training carried out in an atmosphere of traditional Japanese formality and discipline leavened with good will and sweat.  There are no competitions; matches are viewed as philosophically incompatible with the nature of "aiki" (blending of energy).  Generally, Aikido emphasizes throwing and pinning techniques, often using some form of joint locking.  Partners (aite) usually practice from a standing position and great emphasis is placed on posture and grace of movement centered on the lower abdomen.  The instructor, called sensei, briefly demonstrates a technique for the class.  The trainees then pair off to practice together in a spirit of mutual cooperation and respect.  Aitealternate between being the person applying the technique, called nage, and the one who "receives" the throw or pin, uke.  In this way they continue to perform invigorating physical exercise, yet in a manner that can be tuned to the level, age, and attainment of each individual.  Throughout, each person is expected to be performing "internal" training as well.

Finger Lakes Aikido is taught in the mainline style of the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan.  This dojo is the original training hall where Aikido was first formulated and is the source of all major derivative forms.  Regardless of organizational affiliation, all Aikido practitioners strive to improve their understanding of its underlying principles and to better realize aikido's ultimate goal as expressed by Founder Ueshiba Morihei in the following poem:

AIKIDO is not an art to defeat an opponent.

Rather, it is a way to unite all human kind into a single family.