Aikido is the newest of the Japanese martial arts. It has been described as the "old man's art" because of the gentleness and grace with which it is practiced. To the uninitiated observer, practice may appear to be a dance-like tumbling exercise between two or more individuals. Spectators should not be deceived, however, by the gentle, fluid movements; Aikido is a very effective method of controlling an attacker with various wrist and arm locks.
Morihei Ueshiba, O-Sensei (Great Teacher), the founder of Aikido, was born in 1883 on mainland Japan. He dedicated himself to becoming strong and sought out and studied with masters in several martial arts. Eventually he became an expert in Jiu-Jitsu (weaponless combat), Kenjitsu (sword combat), and Sojitsu (spear combat), so it is somewhat ironic that the most important legacy he left was one of nonviolence and human integrity. He says "True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all things in nature... Aikido is the principle of non- resistance. Because it is nonresistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished... it is for correcting your own mind. This is Aikido. This is the meaning of Aikido and should be your mission."
Development of one's "ki" or life energy is another aspect of Aikido training. Perhaps the most important part of training in Aikido is learning to calm the mind and to maintain one's inner harmony which makes it an excellent method of stress reduction.