1. The Background of Aikido
Aikido is a scientific form of self-defence created over fifty years ago by Master M.
Uyeshiba, who is still practising at the age of eighty-six at the world centre of the fighting art -
the Aikikai, Tokyo, Japan. Aikido was a secret known only to a relatively few privileged
Japanese up until as recently as 1948. The requirements to gain entrance into the inner chambers
of the Aikido gymnasium and to learn Aikido's art and philosophy were many including at least
two recommendations from well-known, respected citizens of Japan.
Aikido is a combination of many martial arts including ju-jitsu, Kendo and Karate. Most
Budo (military arts) originated from a kind of physical fitness programme, developed into selfdefence
arts and then on to refined Budo.
A physical fitness programme may be compared to preventive medicine programmes and
prophylactics. If we move our body adequately and if the movement agrees with the 'natural
laws', we still have a well-conditioned body and will not be affected so easily by disease. When
we consider various physical fitness programmes we will soon discover the ideal of Aikido. The
flowing flexibility and the importance of a stable balance agree with the 'laws of nature'. The aim
of Aikidoists is complete self-control. When we have self-control, we have a posture which is
completely alert. By exercising our whole body we approach improved health.
In Aikido, the techniques related to each part of the body are necessarily related to the
whole. There are no radical techniques which use strength suddenly or immediately cease using
power. Here lies the secret of Aikido in keeping a healthy body. The exercise of the body in this
way will lead to better health.
The movement of Aikido is natural and is without the physical strain demanded by other
combat arts. Aikido provides tremendous range movement on the study of balance, posture and
most important - relaxation. For this reason Aikido can be practised by members of either sex,
young or old, while it is also a most effective form of self-defence. Aikido has a particular appeal
to most people for the way that it builds a mind which you can adapt to everyday life.
The Art was first introduced in any big way into Great Britain by my teacher Kenshiro
Abbe (8th Dan) in 1955. I was one his first pupils. At that time Judo was very popular and so
people were not interested in the 'new art'. The Aikido training was also found by beginners to
be extremely severe and this put off many beginners.
After many years of study I was graded to 1st Dan. At the time I received my black belt
for Aikido, there were only eight pupils practising in this country. These pupils are now the
teachers of the art in this country. The art received stimulus by the visit to this country of Mr
Tadashi Abbe (7th Dan). In 1963, Mr M. Nakazono (7th Dan) came to England and was asked
to supervise Aikido in this country. At the same time I was appointed National Coach. It is
therefore only comparatively recently that Aikido has spread in this country and it is now being
taught in schools for the Education Authorities.
2. Aikido Gradings
- Summary of the 17th and 18th Centuries in Britain History
- Theodore William Shultz (1902-1998)
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