Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art created by O-Sensei ("Great Teacher") Ueshiba Morihei (1883 - 1969) after many years of training in the arts of sword, staff, spear, and in the Daito-ryu school of aiki-jujutsu. The exact date of the genesis of this wonderful art is uncertain, since it developed organically through many forms, but the first use of the name was in 1942, when O-Sensei was living in the village of Iwama in Ibaragi Prefecture. At that time, World War 2 was raging, and it is possible that O-Sensei adopted the name change in order to move away from the martial overtones of the term "aiki-jutsu". For a fuller description of the history and practise of Aikido, I recommend you to read "The Spirit of Aikido" (Kodansha International, ISBN 0-87011-850-1) by the son of the Founder, Ueshiba Kisshomaru.
It may be said that Aikido takes the locks and throws of jujutsu and the body postures of sword and spear techniques, and combines them. This is a simplistic description of course, but it may serve to give the non-aikidoka some idea of the appearance of Aikido. Many outsiders claim a similarity between Aikido and Judo, but in fact any perceived similarity is largely cosmetic resulting from the fact that both arts are conducted in similar uniforms ("dogi"), and on floor mats ("tatami").
The aspect in which Aikido differs most sharply from almost all other martial arts is in the area of competition. Although there have been experiments in the field of competitive Aikido, notably in the schools of the late Tomiki Kenji Sensei, in mainstream Aikido there is no external competition of any kind. Aikidoka train cooperatively, usually in kata form (in which there is a predetermined attacker and defender), to assist one another to improve form and spirit. The only competition is with oneself. It should not be inferred from this that Aikido is ineffective as a martial art; in fact, quite the contrary is true. But the focus of Aikido training lies in self-perfection, and effective self defense is a by-product of this path rather than its ultimate aim. If this all sounds very high and noble and pure — well, it is. But Aikido is also a hell of a lot of fun.
Although O-Sensei was a profoundly religious man, involved in the Japanese Omoto-kyo sect, he said many times that although Aikido is a spiritual path, it is not a religion. One of his early European pupils asked him if he must give up his Christianity to be able to fully understand Aiki; O-Sensei told him explicitly that he should not. Many Westerners are misled by the forms of traditonal Japanese courtesy and respect as practised in the dojo, and say things like "Hey! They're bowing to a picture on the wall — what is this, some kind of cult, or what?" Some people (especially fundamentalist Christians, a group which scares the crap out of me almost as much as fundamentalist Muslims) refuse to believe that the forms which they associate with religious practise can be performed from such simple motives as a desire to display respect and thanks for the labour and achievement of thousands of dedicated Aikidoka throughout the world. It saddens me that people can be such morons.
Aikido Shinryukan is the school of Nobuo Takase Shihan (6th Dan), based in Auckland, New Zealand:
Takase Shihan is the direct representative of Mr. Moriteru Ueshiba, San-Dai Doshu (Third Grand Master) of the Aikikai Foundation (based in Shinjuku, Tokyo), and all Shinryukan dojos are directly affiliated with Aikikai. There are Aikido Shinryukan dojos located throughout New Zealand.
More to come when I get around to it. If you live in or near Christchurch, New Zealand, or even if you're just visiting the city and you are interested in finding out about training in Aikido, you can go to the Aikido Shinryukan Canterbury website, or you can phone
5th Dan, Chief Instructor, Aikido Shinryukan Canterbury
Aikido Shinryukan Canterbury,
Training times at A.S.C. Hombu are currently 6:00 to 7:30pm Monday to Thursday.
There is also an advanced class held on Sundays from 5:00 to 6:30pm.
The main dojo is located at the corner of Clyde Road and Morley Avenue, Waimairi, Christchurch.
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