What is Aikido?
"Aikido is not a sport. It is a discipline, an educational process for training the mind, body and spirit. An Aikido dojo is not a gymnasium. It is the place where the way of the discipline is revealed. Physical technique is not the final objective, but a tool for personal refinement and spiritual growth. The correct attitude of respect, sincerity and modesty, and the proper atmosphere are essential to the learning process. And as Aikido is a martial way, they are essential to the safety of each individual." -Shihan Mitsugi Saotome
In Aikido we learn there is a strength in softness. Aikido does not use much physical force. It is a technique of protecting oneself while employing the least amount of physical force or energy. It is an art which lends itself very well to men, women and even children of all body types and of all ages. It is a study of natural body movement, and teaching our bodies to move in that way.
The art of aikido affords a regular practice through which you can discipline yourself to live in a grounded, energized and flowing manner. The art stems from Japanese traditions of Budo, the Way of the Warrior, understood by the founder of aikido as a spirit of loving protection for all living things. The core concept of the art is harmony; harmony with nature, harmony with those who attack us, and harmony within oneself.
As a method of self-defense, aikido works to neutralize the aggressive energy of an attacker by blending with and redirecting it or neutralizing it. It sharpens reflexes, heightens perception, cultivates intuition, and improves your sense of timing. Aikido training also conditions the body to be flexible and fit, and to perform graceful and coordinated movements. It helps you maintain a calm, relaxed and alert attitude under trying circumstances. And it's lots of fun!
Calligraphy done by Esteban Martinez, a practitioner and teacher of Aikido and Shodo (traditional calligraphy).
He has a wonderful site at http://www.gohitsushodostudio.com/