Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba in Japan shortley after the end of WW2. Ueshiba is considered one of the world's foremost martial artists. After training classical styles, He received an exceptional level of spiritual awareness; he created Aikido, the art which maximizes self-defense with minimal force.
Aikido is a synthesis of O'Sensei's martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Aikido is often translated as "the Way of unifying life energy", or as "the Way of harmonious spirit." Ueshiba's goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while simultaneously protecting their attacker from injury. Ueshiba envisioned aikido not only as the synthesis of his martial training, but also an expression of his personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation, an art which holds the concept of non-conflict, rather than the defeat of an adversary, as the ideal.
Aikido training is mental as well as physical, emphasizing the ability to ultimately relax the mind and body under the pressure of confrontational circumstances. This is necessary to enable the practitioner to perform the bold enter-and-blend movements that underlie aikido techniques, wherein an attack is met with confidence and directness.
The goal of Aikido is to blend and redirect the momentum of your opponent in order to neutralize the attack, regardless of the size of the assailant. The essence of Aikido is the unbalancing of your partner which is achieved through the precise use of leverage, inertia, gravity, centrifugal and centripetal forces which ultimately defuses and counters the energy of an attack. The techniques themselves are not dependent on strength or agility in order to be effective, which makes this art conducive for men and women of all ages.
Aikido is not only taijutsu (open hand techniques), but is complimented with the art of Aiki-Ken (wooden sword) and Aiki-Jo (wooden staff). In practicing with the Ken and Jo, it clarifies aspects of Aikido that are often more difficult to perceive while practicing Taijutsu. Buki waza (weapons techniques) emphasizes the principle of extension, centering and focus. The founder developed much of the Taijutsu from traditional sword movements.