Founded by Morihei Ueshiba, aikido is a sport that promotes non-violence and self-defense. Born in the late 1940s, this Japanese martial art (budô) is indeed a gentle discipline. Excluding any idea of competition, its practice is none the less beneficial for the physical and the mental. A question then arises: why and how to do aikido? This article answers them precisely in the following lines that help you to learn aikido
Why do aikido?
Unless there is a serious medical contraindication, aikido is a complete sport accessible to everyone, young and old, men and women. Like any sport, it is excellent for health, body,, and mind, since it allows you to:
- Develop endurance and coordination
- Improve concentration and balance
- Gain flexibility, speed, and self-confidence
- Control your breathing and channel your energy
- Tone muscles and strengthen the heart
- Straighten your back and reduce back pain
- Release stress and manage emotions
But that’s not all! Learning aikido also allows you to acquire certain moral values. Namely courage, politeness, modesty, perseverance, self-control, respect for others, and honor.
Note that aikido can be translated as “the path of energy matching”.
How to learn Aikido?
It goes without saying that to learn Aikido correctly, you have to go to a club or a dojo. In fact, a session must take place indoors, on a tatami under the supervision of an instructor. This non-violent martial art also requires a special outfit. It is practiced with bare hands, with or without a weapon. In this perspective, the materials to be used consist of:
- saber or bokken
- stick or jo
- knife or tanto
In any case, learning Aikido means mastering its basic principles and techniques:
- Hanmi (correctly position the feet)
- Kokyu (use the ground support and transmit it through the body)
- Awase (harmonizing the forces in action over time and space)
- Curved movements (circle and spiral)
- Atemi (punching or kicking)
- Kiaï (kinds of cries emitted by the aikidokas when they perform movements)
- Bukiwaza (weapons techniques) and taijutsu (bare hands techniques)
- Precept to “think one / several”
- Budo Spirit
The accompaniment of a qualified teacher is therefore essential in the context of learning this martial art from Japan. The reason why you should find a club, a dojo, or a specialized school when it comes to learning this sport.
How does aikido training take place?
Aikido training always begins and ends with the same rituals:
- Hi kamiza
- Hi professor
- Folding hakama
- Hi tatami
- Hi dojo
Either way, an Aikido training session takes place in three very distinct parts. First, there is physical and mental preparation. Concretely, it is about allowing the body and the mind to prepare for the effort. For this, the aikidokas perform a stretching session, breathing practice, and specific exercises.
Second, we must continue with the technical work. It should then be noted that the instructor adapts his teaching to the level of each student. In any case, as part of this study of movements, several techniques are taught. Thus, for each movement to be studied, the teacher performs a demonstration with an experienced practitioner. After this, the confirmed aikidokas and beginners greet each other and begin to practice. If the teacher wishes to make corrections, he interrupts the two partners while sending them a greeting which will be returned by the students. An exchange of greetings also marks the end of his speech. This session generally ends with the realization of kokyu ho.
Finally, Aikido training ends with a return to calm. To do this, the students line up in a seiza position, respecting the traditional placement. Then, they calm their breathing and arrange their outfit before the final salute.
At what age should you learn aikido?
An educational discipline par excellence, aikido is learned from an early age. In fact, it can be practiced in principle from 6-7 years, even 5 years for some. It all depends on the physical constitution of each. Intergenerational sports practice, it is for everyone: parents, seniors, young people … It is never too late to get started and enjoy its benefits. Moreover, aikido clubs generally have several sections (children, seniors, etc.) to adapt to different types of practitioners. In the same vein, there are various commissions within the French Federation of Aikido and Budô (FFAB).