Aikido is often difficult for people to describe, even those who have been doing it for years. We'll start with the simple explanation first.
Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba, a prodigy and extraordinarily talented martial artist who studied a wide variety of martial arts including: aiki-jujutsu, judo, spear and staff fighting, sword fighting, and many others. Ueshiba was famous for his talents and was frequently challenged by those wishing to prove themselves or test his abilities. Ueshiba never failed to impress, and is considered a national treasure of Japan to this day.
One of the most important stories from Ueshiba's biography was that upon one occasion, he was challenged by a army officer who was wielding a katana. Ueshiba was unarmed but faced the challenger anyway. Ueshiba was in his physical prime, unafraid and confident in his abilities. But something happened during that exchange that would change his life and perspective forever. Ueshiba faced this armed attacker and merely averted every attack. Ueshiba had the capability of hurting or even killing his attacker, but decided not to. For approximately half an hour, Ueshiba deftly proved to his attacker that his attacks were fruitless and eventually the officer gave in. Ueshiba described the realization that harming others was unnecessary as a sudden and intense revelation.
Ueshiba's mind was fundamentally changed. His goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury. His background in combat proven arts and the techniques still exist within aikido, but a level of control has been added so an aikidoist may use as little or as much as he or she deems necessary to remain safe.
In the civilian lives that most of us lead (not in a battlefield or combat zone, for example) learning to injure, harm and excel at violence is counter productive to our goal of living a life in which we desire peace, not violence and conflict. We train ourselves to deal with violence, but the goal is to restore peace and harmony as quickly as possible. Escalating hostilities and violence threatens peace, and peace is the goal.
The principles we teach are to manage any conflict, whether physical, verbal or social, in a way that is productive and successful. This is real harmony, not merely succeeding by using extraordinary violence. You can read more in depth about our Mission and Philosophy.
There are many examples of aikido on the internet, and we encourage you to take a look at some of the abundant material there to find out more. We are also happy to have you come in and see for yourself what aikido is, what training is like, and what we are about.
Our pursuit of aikido is based in martial effectiveness. There are many different approaches to aikido and training in the martial arts world. I'm disappointed to say that some, in fact many, have lost touch with aikido's robust nature. Other martial arts have experienced this same thing, with the fundamentals of self-defense being watered down or sometimes forgotten completely. This leads to a martial art turning into a mere exercise or pattern movement form. This is a disservice to the art and to students who are looking for a viable way to protect themselves.
The way we study and practice is to learn solid martial fundamentals and drill them. We do so as safely as possible at an intensity level that each student can handle without injury. This level increases as the student improves their skills. There is an old saying "Knowledge is only a rumor until it lives in the muscle." This is at the heart of our training philosophy and approach at Spirit Aikido.
We happily accept people at any starting point, the only thing you need is a desire to learn and improve yourself. We will help you build your skills and abilities and have a fun time doing it.
The only true victory is victory over yourself.