Aikido texts

Why aikido?

Today in the 21st century, there is still talk about sports and a lot of people are engaged in it but ....
Every coach in any sport will tell you that the response of young people and children is much smaller than before. If you ask why the child is not engaged in any sports, it will simply answer that there is no time. Why, because they need to get the additional classes in English or computer skills classes. If you ask any man (somewhat neglected physically) why he is not engaged in any sports recreationally, he will reply that he was too busy with the struggle to secure bare existence. Teachers of physical education in secondary schools should be able to tell you about the ways how the students avoid physical education classes, and later those students solve disagreements with their classmates with knives, because they are not physically or mentally capable of doing something else. This is only one side of the coin and is strictly at the expense of disinterested.
We live in Serbia, and we all know that life is hard, but that's no excuse to let it happen that the young man of 16 or 17 years of age can't lift anything heavier than a "spoon". Just as we can not allow that the youth get in trouble with street thugs, or that girls are abused by them. For all this there is a solution, but it requires a lot of work to raise the general and physical education of young people and those who are slightly older. Take five minutes of your time and consider whether there is a martial art that interests you (or consult your child).
I'll help you, because the choice is huge: karate, judo, taekwondo, sambo, boxing, full contact, kick boxing, wrestling and so on(all sports) and of course aikido. Many of you have not even heard of aikido before the appearance of movies with Steven Seagal (the famous Niko), so ... WHY AIKIDO?
Because of its attractiveness (in the movies it actually looks so powerful), whether because it is only one that is not a sport but an art (it lacks of competition), whether because it is non-aggressive (aikido is a self-defense martial art), or because it is extremely affordable to weaker sex and all people that do not have some special physical qualities (to do any technique in aikido requires that students be able to raise a maximum of eight kilograms), whether due to the extremely pleasant and friendly atmosphere in training and socializing outside of training (due to the absence of competition has no animosity among students - all are here to learn the same, not to compete for the best position at the club). Decide for yourself, the reasons are many.
For those a little older (over 30 years) in the community that have the feeling that they are too old for all but the marriages, aikido is a last chance to fulfill their youthful aspirations and train a martial art and master it (you can begin to train aikido at sixty years of age and it will not be late).

What is the goal of aikido?

Aikido is an art rather than a sport. This means that there is no competition. This fact greatly changed the concept of aikido training compared to other martial arts. The task of aikido as a martial art is to prepare students for possible unpleasant situations and to provide them with the confidence and knowledge to come out of these situations unharmed.

One aspect of tactical preparation refers to a number of possible scenarios, unpleasant and violent situations in which the student could be found, or if he already has this unpleasant experience. This part of the tactical preparations usually answers with the question: What If ..? Aikido is a peaceful martial art that aims to preserve mental and physical integrity of students, so in response to the previous question students could consider the possibility of verbal exit from the conflict. Sometimes this is not possible, so the question is: What do you do when ..? The task of aikido as a martial art is to answer this question. The answers are different because it mainly depends on type of attack (foot, hand, grip, combined).

The first task of aikido is to teach students to recognize the attack (the level of threat, whether the attack can be avoided or not).

The second task of aikido is to provide a range of possible responses to a given attack. Responses depend not only on the type of concrete attacks, but also the situation, the area where the attack takes place, as well as the number of attackers (confined space, open space, assault with or without weapons, weapon type, etc.). Through the exercise, the student must acquire the ability to quickly reach solutions thought conflict situations, and to draw from their memory a technique they rehearsed for a specific or a similar situation.

The third task is to successfully perform motoric defense techniques that the student has chosen. The result of students' performance can be positive or negative. The aim of the skills that the student defend against attacks and possibly deter attackers from the next attack. In this sense, it is enough if we just avoid the attack without specifically applying the execution techniques. Based on the reaction of the attacker, the student decides whether it is necessary to apply a technique or just avoiding the attacker was enough.

The fourth task of aikido is to provide longevity and health to its practitioners. Through continuous training, children and elderly gain physical fitness, strengthen the whole body and slow down the process of ossification that result from the lack of physical activity and excessive sitting.

When you enter the world of aikido, you realize that you aren't just learning a martial art, you are opening the way for introducing yourself to a new beautiful culture. Culture of Japan and the Far East. Way of thinking, breathing exercises, proper application of massages, learning self-control, strengthening and exercising extended concentration are just some of the aspects of Aikido, because it is so much more than that. Aikido grews into a way of life. Many will ask what does it really mean? This means that what you learn in training such as patience, you gradually implement into your daily life. Situations in which you previously jumped out of the skin from irritation suddenly will not look so scary or worth the aggravation. Persistence, in places where you were giving up before now you would continue, surrender shall cease to be an option, physical fitness, just ask yourselves one question: When was the last time that you run up the stairs full of enthusiasm and fatigue-free? Gradually eliminating stress, this is very important because we live in stressful times. Aikido teaches you how to distance yourself of sudden and usually unpleasant situations and things that are happening. Wondering how? Simply, through systematic practicing proper breathing and some other exercises. Confidence, once you learn a few basic techniques of Aikido will be looking at the environment with different eyes and you will feel safer.

History - beginnings of aikido


The word Aikido consists of three parts: AI - a harmony; KI - which means our inner being and DO - which means the road. All together would mean "the road of achieving harmony with our inner being" or as is usually translated: "The road to achieving harmony with the great energy of the Universe." Aikido is a modern martial art created at the beginning of the 20th century. Its creator is Morihei Ueshiba and the date of the official formation of aikido is a year 1925.
The root of Aikido lies in the art of Aiki-Ju-jutsu, created in the 9th century in feudal Japan. In that period, Aiki-ju-jutsu was only one of many martial arts and schools. Created by the prince Teijun, the sixth son of Emperor Seiwa. His method consisted in delivering strikes with his hand as a sword, which were directed at various holes in samurai armor and other military armor. Prince Teijun continued with improving its skills and gave it some new features, with particular attention to the defense of an unarmed man against a samurai short sword. Following the family tradition, successors and descendants of the family Seiwa continued with learning and theoretical deepening of skills. The techniques at this time represented a family secret and transmitted from generation to generation. At the end of the 9th century Saburo Yoshimitsu(general and an excellent strategist who knew many martial arts, with a lot of understanding in medicine, especially anatomy) created a more advanced system known as DAITO-RYU AIKI-JU-JUTSU. In this system, he added a new techniques which has been included in the defense of the most cold weapons known at that time. At the same time the Saburo family gets a surname Takeda. About 32 generations of the family improved and jealously guarded the Daito-ryu system as a family secret. Only the last descendant of the family Sogaku Takeda disclose this system by teaching it to noble families in Japan. That's how DAITOKAN AIKI-JU-JUTSU is formed.

Morihei Ueshiba found out about this school. Morihei Ueshiba was still a boy of 14 years, who dedicated his life to Budo (way of the warrior). With 18 years has mastered Daito-Ju-Jutsu in Kito school, he went on with the teachings of the sword fight in the Yagyu school, in 1922. he mastered the Ju-Jutsu in Ashinkage school, and in 1924 he studied and fight with spears (yari-jutsu) . But in spite of superhuman strength and exceptional skill he possessed, he was still not satisfied with his achievements. Methods of fighting that has learned allowed him the easiest way to eliminate a large number of attackers, but what bothered him was the fact that by the victory over somebody, you just acquired another new enemy. "The winner of today is defeated of tomorrow. Man should be convinced that his intentions were wrong, without overpowering him. Budo (warriors way) can not be so relative, so impermanent, with just a victory and defeat. Bu is love" -declares a great teacher. This is the moment when modern Aikido is born. From that moment he began the hardworking job to dignify bloodshed techniques and to create new skills. In 1927 Morihei Ueshiba moved to Tokyo, where he became a professor of Budo at the Naval Academy, and in 1931. the construction of the central hall of aikido (Hombu Dojo) in Tokyo was completed. In 1948, as soon as the ban was lifted Budo activities, Aikido is spreading beyond the borders of Japan.

How does the trening look like?

Aikido training begins when a teacher sits at the head of the dojo, and students facing him settle in line in the hierarchy belts, from highest to the lowest.

The training consists of four phases:
1. Preliminary elements (seiza, rei, kokyu)
2. Preparatory exercises (aiki taiso, tai sabaki, ukemi),
3. Main part (grip techniques, kansetsu waza, throwing techniques, nage waza etc.).
4. Final part (seiza, rei)

Seiza or zazen is the main sitting position in aikido. Sit on your heels, knees bent and apart, relying on the lower leg and upper foot. The back is completely straightened, shoulders relaxed and your head slightly tilted forward. Hands are relaxed, and hands resting on your thighs. This position is used for concentration to calm the body before the start of training. The aim of this exercise is physical and spiritual preparation for the training. Aim is to be able to remove all thoughts that we were occupied with all day and focus our attention on what lies ahead. This is the the way that each training session begins. Sitting in seiza takes about three minutes and then rei follows.
Rei is a greeting by bowing, and it represents the mutual expression of gratitude and respect between teachers and students. After greeting the students are arranged around the dojo and begin breathing exercises (kokyu). The correct position is standing with legs slightly apart. At the beginning of the exercise is necessary to rapidly push out all the air from your lungs through your mouth. Then follows inhalation through the nose, while the hands are moving from the side of your body upwards in front of your head.
The air is inhaled continuously. When the hands have reached the highest point (height of head) air is compressed towards the lower part of the abdomen, the palm faces the outer side of the body and then begins a slow exhale on the nose with simultaneous, slow lowering the arms and hands downward to the initial position (to the sides of the body). While doing breathing exercises, students have the goal to empty my head of any thoughts and focus their attention on the inhalation and exhalation. Exhalation should be twice longer than inhaling. These exercises take about 3 minutes.

After this part, preparatory training begins. Aiki taiso is aikido gymnastics. These exercises do not differ much from the exercises in other sports with perhaps only one aikido distinctiveness. These are exercises aimed at stretching the joints where the joint locks were performed later, during training. Students choose their intensity of stretching of their joints depending on its mobility. These exercises strengthen the joints, they are important for aikido because they reduce the possibility of injury when practicing specific techniques. This segment takes about 10 minutes. After warming up, Tai Sabaki or footwork starts. Movement can be straight or circular. The teacher calls the name of body movement and counts, loudly while students perform it. This exercise promotes proper breathing while doing body movement. It lasts about 5 minutes. The next ten minutes are devoted to practicing aikido falls. Thre are falls of all kinds (front, back, side).

This completes the preparatory exercises we proceed to the main part of the training - practice of aikido techniques. Practice technique may be a grip technique (kansecu wase) or throwing techniques (nage wase). The teacher demonstrates and explains the technique and the students subsequently practice it in pairs. If that technique practiced in training is already known, then the number of techniques practiced can be increased.

After an active workout, the final part of the training comes, which consists of a short stretching in pairs and then immediately to students and teachers returning to the starting position as at the beginning of training. Students are asked to sit in seiza, and while sitting, to imagine a technique or a movement that they practiced at that training session. After a few minutes in seiza, rei follows and thus the training ends.

Physical fitness in aikido

Strength development
Aikido is a martial art that does not require great strength. The reasons for this lies in the basic principles of Aikido, which are: removal from the line of attack, the sphericity of movement, distance, harmony, the principles of non-resistance and natural laws on which skills are based. The basic principle of Aikido is: "When being pushed - turn around, and if you're being pulled - go in." That's why it is said that when someone can lift a weight of 8kg, you can perform each technique and aikido. When we talk about the strength in aikido, we think about the repetitive strength and of the explosive force to a smaller part. Strength development is usually carried out with a number of repetitions of a technique. Techniques are performed with a large number of attackers, so the break segments are omitted because attacks follow one another. Time-wise, work intervals may be different. From 5 minutes to 15 minutes, with the same intervals of rest. The whole cycle is repeated several times during the training. In addition to gaining strength through techniques, there are the usual strength exercises to develop general preparedness of the body, such as crunches, push-ups, exercises back muscles, squats, jumps, suburi (cutting with a sword) and so on. The development of explosive strength in aikido is most needed to perform punches, using focus pads. The series of strikes in focus pads is done at full power with rest intervals when the student raises focus pads and holds so his partner does the same drill. Strikes are performed for 10 minutes and executed without rest.

Endurance development
Endurance is an important factor in aikido, because you can't defend yourself from multiple attackers simultaneously without the longlasting endurance abilities. In Aikido, most frequently practiced are continuous or interval methods. If the endurance is trained through the movement, a same-paced continuous method is used, the selected movement is performed continuously, the same intensity for a specified duration (20 minutes). Sometimes a variable-paced continuous method is used, ie. the intensity of movement is increased to the maximum. If endurance is developed through the falling techniques, then the interval methods are used. Falls are practiced on counting (for example 20 falls) with the same intensity and speed. Then there is a pause, another group does the same exercise. As soon as the second group is completed, the first group begins again with falls and so it lasts for about 25 minutes. It is possible to change the type of drill, so in the case of the falls, each second series are being falls backwards and each first to be forward falls. It is not advisable to change the intensity of falling drills, because the risk of possible injuries.

Flexibility is important ability for beling able to practice Aikido, but it's not crucial. Flexibility in aikido is primarily related to the mobility of the joints and flexibility of muscles and tendons. It helps the practitioner while doing joint locks to handle the pressure more easily on the particular joint and reduces the chance of injury. Flexibility is not required of a beginner, but after years of practice it is a must have. Aikido consists of a whole range of joint locks at various joints, so much attention is paid to their stretching. This prevents ossification and increases the function of these joints and improves mobility, which allows training in old age too. Stretching exercises are numerous they are being practiced at every workout in a short series, usually with a partner.

How to learn aikido?

Aikido is a martial art of self-defense, therefore its techniques are presented in the same context.

Learning skills always starts from the simplest attacks, in order that through the learning process you can advance to most complicated ones, such as combo attacks.

Students are first explained type of attacks and the manner of their execution, and after that the movements of selected techniques of Aikido that represents the response to a given attack. In Aikido we are not able to hire people who would just carry out attacks on our training so that the students could practice a defense against these attacks, it is essential that teachers first insist on practicing the attack (punches by hand, kick, grip, etc.). This segment is called aikido atemi waza. When it is mastered to some extent, it is possible to move on to practice aikido techniques.

This is done with a demonstration of techniques by the teacher. The technique was first performed several times at full speed and with maximum power so that the students get a good picture of what to practice and why they exercise it and then demonstration slows down, emphasizing important moments for the functioning of technique. The physical techniques of Aikido are always presented in its entirety.

After the completion of the demonstration, the students line in pairs and begin to practice the demonstrated techniques. Practicing is performed alternately, as one of the partners is practicing attack and the other one practices the defense and vice versa.

In this part, practice od the attacks and defense is performed slowly. The reason is to learn motor skills and movement techniques to reduce the possibility of injury to students.

During this time, the teacher moves around the room, from pair to pair and corrects detected errors. If mistake is noticed that is common to a larger number of students, teacher then stops the training and again demonstrates the technique with special emphasis on the correction of detected errors.

The causes of errors can be varied: insufficient attention in demonstration of the technique, poor motor skills, the inability to understand the technique and others.

Error correction is performed with the individual attention to each student, but the teacher can introduce the cycle of exercises that improves some of the motor abilities (focus pads for precision shots, repeating specific movements until there is an increase in the speed of that movement, a certain strength exercises, etc.)

Later, when the students learn the technique well, we proceed to its repetition with maximum intensity and amplitude.

This way of learning aikido techniques focuses mainly on physical techniques. But since in Aikido we also study the use and defense against weapons such as a wooden stick, sword and knife, the concept of the training varies.

In weapon use training, whole technique has also being demonstrated, but thereafter the movements are divided into smaller, simpler and shorter parts which are taught. The reason for this is very simple. One "kata" (a system of movements, for example - 37 divided movements) with the stick is too long and complex to be able to overcome at the first sight. Therefore, after a demonstration by the teacher, only the first three movements of the kata are repeated. After they are mastered, the next two movements from the series are demonstrated for the exercise as well. When students overcome them too, these two new movements are added to the previous three that have already been mastered, and now all five movements are practiced as a whole. When the whole series of 5 movements is well rehearsed, students acquire two new movements, which will be added to the previous series of 5 movements as soon as they are well trained. This pattern is used until all 37 movements are well understood. After that practicing kata is carried out continuously in its entirety, all 37 movements together, from the first to the last move.

Falls in aikido

Ukemi (falls) in aikido are basically different from the falls in other martial arts (for example judo).

Falls in aikido belongs to the domain of defense, and as such they are commonly used. Not only to avoid injury in a collision of the body to the ground, but before that - as a defense of the the applied technique. Observers may think that many of the techniques of aikido look "rigged" precisely because in them attacker falls to avoid serious injury. The uke (the person who receives the technique - attacker), to reduce the intensity of the joint pain in a particular joint, having exhausted all other possibilities (motion, flexibility) is trying to fall as the only way remaining to defend the attacked wrist.

This is also one of the main causes that contribute to the difference in the technical execution of falls between, for example, judo and aikido. In judo partners are holding firmly and at a favorable moment, using a specific movement, disturb the equilibrium of the opponent in order to threw him with the help of some of the techniques. Subject who falls has no choice and it does not do so willingly, especially as it is known that a fall in judo means defeat, ie. end of the fight. This throw to the ground looks a lot more convincing than some throwing techniques in Aikido. However, this is only apparent because in aikido uke is brought to a fait accompli - break an arm or execute a fall, this is their only choice. The difference is that in judo partners are held by kimonos, but in aikido, practicioners are attacking sensitive joints.

Because of all this, falls are much more dynamic and often allow exemption the applied techniques, which significantly helps. The dynamics is reflected by the fact that in many cases, after falling and rolling over the arm and back, subject ends up in the standing position again, so that the attack can be repeated. Tori (one who performs the technique) decides on whether to allow uke to move and free him from the applied technique or to keep uke fully under his control.

Falls in aikido are divided based on the direction of their execution:
  1. MAE UKEMI (forward roll)
  2. USHIRO UKEMI (backward roll)
  3. YOKO UKEMI (side fall)

MAE UKEMI: from the basic stance in aikido, the body bends forward and down, hands are placed to form a circle. Swing of the back leg and pushing off the other leg, the body is given the rotation. Contact with the ground is achieved first with a hand that was placed in front of the body, then shoulder, then a diagonal that leads across the back to the hip on the opposite side of the body, and roll is finished when swing leg is bent and is placed beneath the body. By continuing the started movement the body straightens, leg extend and person returns to basic aikido stance. It is implied that the same foot remains forward before and after the fall. A variant of this fall is the cross-roll. It is performed in the same manner except that, for example, from the left basic stance (left foot forward) a first contact with the ground is achieved by the right hand (crossed hand). This is only possible if at the beginning of the fall, the hips rotate so that the opposite (right hand) come forward even though the basic stance remains with the left foot forward.

USHIRO UKEMI: it can be best be explained by rewinding the video on which the forward roll was taken, to play it in opposite way. While rolling backwards, the most important is to first land your foot, not with the knee of the first leg that touches the ground.

YOKO UKEMI: it is identical to forward roll, except that the entire forward roll takes place in the air, without contact with the ground. When the rotation is completed in the air, body "landing" is made on the side. The most important thing with this type of fall os to establish contact with the ground with your free arm first (the hand that is not affected by tori's technique), and then the rest of the body arrives in rotation. This way, the amortization effect of the fall is optimal.

Attacks in aikido

The basic condition for the implementation of some of the techniques of self-defense is the attack. One of the types of the attack is a punch. Based on the trajectory of the hand that strikes a blow in Aikido, they are divided into:

Shomen uchi - Impact from above, and that could be all those attacks that are executed in vertical plane, from the top down, and are directed to the region of the head, face or chest.

Yokomen uchi - Strikes from the side. This group includes all the attacks coming from the side, and their goal is the side of the head or neck.

Forward punches (tsuki) - are divided depending of the part of body where they strike:
- Jodantsuki - Strikes in the face region and the front of the neck.
 - Munetsuki - Strikes in the chest region and solar plexus.
 - Chudantsuki - Strikes to the lower abdomen and genitals.

Strikes (atemi waza) in aikido are taught for several reasons. First, to understand the technique of attack in hitting sports and martial arts towards certain sensitive parts of the body. Another reason is the lack of an attacker in aikido, so that the students themselves must be trained to attack, so that the defense can be adequate, and simulates the real situation. The third reason is technical in nature - many of the techniques in aikido can be made only after stopping your opponents with a precise shot. Strikes themselves are not an aim, but represent a hindering factor for opponents, and represent a favorable factor for executing of some of the joint locks in Aikido.

Weapons in aikido


The segment of aikido in which defense against knife attacks are studied is called tanto dori. Translated, this means "taking a knife." The goal of aikido techniques are disarming your opponents. When practicing these techniques, special attention should be paid to the point of confiscation of the knife. It is carried out in the most appropriate moment and when it attacked has full control of the attacker. Types of attacks with the knife are the same as the types of attacks with one hand, with addition of one more attack, and that the attack is executed in the vertical plane, the from the bottom-up, in order to slit the opponent.

You should also pay attention to two important factors when it comes to knife. One is a type of knife: if the blade is only on one side, both sides or is it a dagger. The second is way attacker is handling the knife. That isn't related to attackers expertise because it is expected, handling is related to the position of the blade: is the blade facing up, down or sideways. This is very important because there are not many universal technique that can be applied regardless of the type and orientation of the knife blade. Among the large number of extremely effective techniques commonly used for the defense of the the blade are:
1. Gokyo (universal)
2. Kotegaeshi (universal)
3. Hijikime osae
4. Jonkyonage
5. Sankyo

BOKEN (wooden sword)

Taught as an integral part of Aikido. Many aikido techniques are results from handling skills with the sword. Katana (traditional Japanese sword) was named the most perfect weapon in the world by National Geographic. That says a lot, does it not? In training sessions with bokken, basic cuts and blocks are mainly practiced, and then after that starts practicing in pairs. Exercises in pairs are learned in segments because pair exercises represent a shorter or longer sword fights (kumi tachi), which has been designed long ago by Japanese swordsmen. The study of sword fighting is very important, because the Japanese swordfighting is very different from European (such as the foil fencing). The sword is held with two hands and a sword fight represents a combat for positions. Great care is needed in selecting an offensive or defensive action, because the outcome of the duel is often decided upon at the very first attack. In any case, exercises with bokken helps students to improve their stance, to learn to keep straight back and to lower hips while performing techniques.

JO (wooden staff)

Staff, throughout history was one of the most revered weapons. Inexpensive, easily accessible and highly effective even against a samurai katana. This is why the skills of handling the staff is still very popular. Training with staff consists of practicing thrusts (tsuki), blocks, hits and defense against one or more attackers. There is an exercise of staff confiscation, as well as practice in groups. The combinations are various. When you realize that the staff can be replaced with a baseball bat, a metal rod or any other object of similar length, then you realize that the skills of handling staff (and the defense from it) are part of the contemporary combat, the same as it used to be to an ancient samurai.