Aikido, "The Way of Harmony," is a physical discipline once created as a martial art by its founder, O'Sensei, more than a half century ago in Japan. It has evolved into a physical workout program that when practiced over time, will aid the student in balance, physical prowess, mental clarity and a healthy reverence for all persons.
Aikido is usually taught and practiced in a dojo, or training facility. It is not done singularly such as Qi Gong or Tai Chi or Yoga. It is in doing Aikido with a partner that we are taught the Way of Harmony in our relationships. Many instructors, or Senseis advocate leaving "egos" at the door of their dojos upon entering. Courtesy, and respect toward one another is a rule to be followed. Simple foam mats occupy the floor space of the dojo. Open areas and sparse decor make for the ideal dojo.
Etiquette must always be followed in practicing Aikido. Courtesy rules, and respect for instructors and fellow students become ingrained in the practicing student. "Sempai" and "Kohai", student and teacher, respectively, have protocol governed by their level of experience. Newer students will always defer to the more experienced ones. A lot of bowing and head nodding precede the engaging of two students learning the techniques.
Lke judo, Aikido is practiced wearing a gi, which is a white, rough cotton jacket and thinner white cotton pants. The pants have drawstring waists. The jacket is just overlapped in the front and held together weith a white cotton belt that is twined in front and held with a simple over hand knot. There are no shoes worn in the dojo.
The initial technique to be mastered is the art of falling, in Aikido. The student must master the forward roll and the backward roll. The rolls must be smooth and circular in execution. There are no hard falls as in judo. Remember, this is the way of Harmony. Advanced techniques are concerned with arm and wrist locks that combine body leverage and your partner's momentum to bring him into a submissive position on the mat. Irimi- nage, tenchen-nage and ikkyo and sankyo are advanced terms for the various techniques and wrist locks to be learned.
To do Aikido is to commit to learning a way of mastering your body movements, your thoughts while engaged in one on one physical contact, and "helping" your adversary to a position of re-thinking his violent actions bestowed upon you. All of this is to be done fluidly and with courtesy.