Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido literally means “the way of harmony”; today aikido is most often described as a non-violent, peaceful art. In a recent survey of our members, we’ve learned that people practice aikido for many different reasons, from self-defence to spiritual enlightenment! (see below: ‘Why train in aikido?’). Aikido focuses not on punching or kicking, but rather on using your opponent’s own energy to gain control of them or to throw them away. The basic idea of aikido is to control a situation without fighting. Force is never met with force; instead, energy is diverted back upon the attacker by means of circular movements. As well as practising open hand techniques, students also train with weapons such as the Jo (staff), Bokken (sword) and Tanto (knife). Aikido is perhaps the most subtle and graceful of all the martial arts. Since aikido techniques do not demand physical strength or aggressive spirit, it is practised by people of all ages and sizes.