From the rec.martialarts FAQ (contributors: Eric Sotnak - email@example.com, Alex Jackl - firstname.lastname@example.org) Intro: Aikido emphasizes evasion and circular/spiral redirection of an attacker's aggressive force into throws, pins, and immobilizations as a primary strategy rather than punches and kicks. Origin: Japan. History: Aikido was founded in 1942 by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). Prior to this time, Ueshiba called his art "aikibudo" or "aikinomichi". In developing aikido, Ueshiba was heavily influenced by Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu, several styles of Japanese fencing (kenjutsu), spearfighting (yarijutsu), and by the so- called "new religion": omotokyo. Largely because of his deep interest in omotokyo, Ueshiba came to see his aikido as rooted less in techniques for achieving physical domination over others than in attempting to cultivate a "spirit of loving protection for all things." The extent to which Ueshiba's religious and philosophical convictions influenced the direction of technical developments and changes within the corpus of aikido techniques is not known, but many aikido practitioners believe that perfect mastery of aikido would allow one to defend against an attacker without causing serious or permanent injury. Descriptions: The primary strategic foundations of aikido are: (1) moving into a position off the line of attack; (2) seizing control of the attacker's balance by means of leverage and timing; (3) applying a throw, pin, or other sort of immobilization (such as a wrist/arm lock). Strikes are not altogether absent from the strategic arsenal of the aikidoist, but their use is primarily (though not, perhaps, exclusively) as a means of distraction -- a strike (called "atemi") is delivered in order to provoke a reaction from the aggressor, thereby creating a window of opportunity, facilitating the application of a throw, pin, or other immobilization. Many aikido schools train (in varying degrees) with weapons. The most commonly used weapons in aikido are the jo (a staff between 4 or 5 feet in length), the bokken (a wooden sword), and the tanto (a knife, usually made of wood, for safety). These weapons are used not only to teach defenses against armed attacks, but also to illustrate principles of aikido movement, distancing, and timing. Training: A competitive variant of aikido (Tomiki aikido) holds structured competitions where opponents attempt to score points by stabbing with a foam-rubber knife, or by executing aikido techniques in response to attacks with the knife. Most variants of aikido, however, hold no competitions, matches, or sparring. Instead, techniques are practiced in cooperation with a partner who steadily increases the speed, power, and variety of attacks in accordance with the abilities of the participants. Participants take turns being attacker and defender, usually performing pre-arranged attacks and defenses at the lower levels, gradually working up to full-speed freestyle attacks and defenses. Sub-Styles: There are several major variants of aikido. The root variant is the "aikikai", founded by Morihei Ueshiba, and now headed by the founder's son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Several organizations in the United States are affiliated with the aikikai, including the United States Aikido Federation, the Aikido Association of America, and Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Other major variants include: * the "ki society", founded by Koichi Tohei, * yoshinkan aikido, founded by Gozo Shioda, * the kokikai organization, headed by Shuji Maruyama, * "Tomiki aikido" named after its founder, Kenji Tomiki.