Aikido is a gendai budo (modern martial art/way) founded by Ueshiba Morihei Osensei largely based on the tai-jutsu (body techniques) of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu, the sword techniques of Kashima Shinto-ryu and, to a lesser degree, the spear techniques of Hozoin-ryu. However, due to Ueshiba’s spiritual beliefs and shock at the horrors of the Second World War, the techniques of these koryu (traditional schools) were changed in order to control but not harm the attacker(s). This makes aikido a useful form of self defense for the modern age and it’s techniques have been taught to many police and security forces around the world.
As well as being a system for self defense against multiple armed or unarmed attackers, it is also a system for self improvement, coordination, balance, timing, flexibility and fitness. More than just getting you fit, aikido will teach you how to relax and move in an efficient and effective way which is useful for both self defense and daily living.
“The secret of aiki is to overpower the opponent mentally at a glance and to win without fighting.” – Takeda Sokaku
Ueshiba Morihei Osensei was born in Tanabe on 14th December 1883. As a child he received some instruction in Sumo. He also trained briefly in 1901 in Tenjin Shin’yo-ryu and later in Hozoin-ryu and Judo before his military service in 1903. He was promoted to the rank of corporal during the Russo-Japanese War and was noted for his skill with a juken (rifle and bayonet). The time spent in the army disrupted his training, however, he was awarded a diploma in Goto-ha Yagyu-ryu in 1908 after he was discharged in 1906.
After moving to Hokkaido as the leader of a group of 85 settlers in 1912 he eventually met Takeda Sokaku the successor of Daito-ryu jujutsu, the previously secret techniques of the Aizu clan, and modern formaliser of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu. Ueshiba was impressed by Takeda’s techniques and he and his nephew Inoue Noriaki began training regularly with him in both Daito-ryu, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu and possibly Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu. In 1922 Ueshiba received his kyoju dairi (assistant teaching certificate) from Takeda. At this time, Ueshiba was the most senior student Takeda in Daito-ryu and travelled with him frequently as his teaching assistant.
Ueshiba met Deguchi Onisaburo, the leader of a politically contraversial Shinto sect, in 1920 who would come to have a great influence on the development of aikido. He invited Ueshiba to open a dojo in Ayabe to teach the Omoto-kyo followers Daito-ryu.
More to follow…
In the meantime Wikipedia has a good overview of aikido.
Progressive Aikido: The Essential Elements, Moriteru Ueshiba
The Spirit of Aikido, Kisshomaru Ueshiba