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Published April 9th 2011
Aikido (literally meaning 'the way of the harmonious energy') is a Japanese Martial Art that involves defensive manoeuvres such as joint locks and throws, and places a strong emphasis on using the opponents energy and strength against them.
It was developed and created by Morihei Ueshiba, who saw Aikido as an expression for his own personal philosophy of universal harmony. Under the religious influence of Onisaburo Deguchi, the spiritual leader of a neo-Shinto movement called Omoto-Kyo, Ueshiba realised that martial arts could also be used as a means of extending love and compassion to others, especially those who seek to harm. With this philosophy in mind, Aikido gradually become more of a 'soft' style of martial arts where one uses the opponent's strength and energy to redirect the force of the attack, rather than defending it head on with brute strength.
Apart from the religious influences, the Jujitsu branch of Daito-Ryu Jujitsu is also widely recognised as a main influence on Aikido. As well as empty-handed techniques of throwing and joint-locking, Ueshiba also incorporated weaponry training such as the spear, short staff and bayonet. One interesting note on Aikido is that although its primary influence is from the school of jujitsu, much of its technical structure derives from Kenjitsu, the Japanese art of swordsmanship.
Today, Aikido is found all over the world in a number of styles, with broad ranges of interpretation and emphasises. However, they all share techniques learned from Ueshiba and most have concern for the well-being of the practitioner as well as the attacker.
In Melbourne, there are a vast number of schools where one can learn the art of Aikido. Where to go and how to choose? Listed below are just a few suggestions to choose from and to begin with.
Aikido Shudokan This school of Yoshinkan Aikido, considered a more 'harder' style of Aikido due to the emphasis on correct form rather than the correct timing and flow of technique, is operated by Chief Instructor Joe Thambu. Shihan Thambu is a seventh rank dan of Yoshinkan Aikido and is popularly known as the last student to be graded by Soke Shioda Gozo, the founder of Yoshinkan Aikido.
Aiki-Kai Australia Aiki-Kai Aikido is one of the main branches of Aikido that is considered the 'traditional' house of Aikido due to the students staying true to Ueshiba. The Aiki-Kai school retaines many of the aspects which Morihei Ueshiba valued such as non-competitive training.
Aikido Yuishinkai Aikido Yuishinkai is a sub-branch of the Ki Soceity of Aikido, which emphasis on the development of one's ki (energy) through Aikido training. This school was founded by Master Koretoshi Maruyama to promote the universal values and principles of peace throughout the world.
Another school that teaches the 'harder' style of Yoshinkan Aikido, the chief instructor Peter Koussoulis, is the only westerner to be issued with a teaching licence by world famous Headmaster of Yamanashi Yoshinkan Aikido, Takeno Takafumi.
If none of these schools seems of any interest, alternatively you can find yourself a Yellow Pages and search under 'Martial Arts'.
To choose which Aikido school is best for you really depends on mainly what you are actually looking for in a martial arts school. If you are in search for a school that teaches good values, find a school emphasis on the mental and spiritual aspects of Aikido. If you are in search for a school that can help you defend yourself when you're in a certain situation, find that school that can teach you the techniques that can help you defend yourself.
Whether it be wanting to learn how to defend yourself or wanting to find your own inner purpose, Aikido is a great martial art where you can have fun, learn how to defend yourself as well as meet and interact with people from all sorts of walks in life. So get out there, find yourself a school and sign up for a class now.