Development and Practice
Although aikido is a relatively recent innovation within the world of martial arts, it is heir to a rich cultural and philosophical background.
Before creating aikido, Morihei Ueshiba trained extensively in several varieties of jujutsu, as well as sword and spear fighting. Ueshiba also immersed himself in religious studies and developed an ideology devoted to universal socio-political harmony; many aspects of aikido where developed with these ideas in mind.
Developed as means of self-cultivation and improvement rather than as a system of combat, aikido has no tournaments, competitions, contests, or sparring. Instead, all aikido techniques are learned cooperatively at a pace proportionate with the abilities of each student.
According to the founder, the goal of aikido is not the defeat of others, but the defeat of the negative characteristics which inhabit one’s own mind and inhibit its functioning; thus creating an art that provides for self-defense while also protecting an attacker from injury.
The potential of aikido as a means of self-defense should not be ignored. One reason for the prohibition of competition in aikido is that many aikido techniques would have to be excluded because of their potential to cause serious injury. By training cooperatively, even potentially lethal techniques can be practiced without substantial risk.
It must be emphasized that there are no shortcuts to proficiency in aikido (or in anything else, for that matter). Consequently, attaining proficiency in aikido is simply a matter of sustained and dedicated training. No one becomes an expert in just a few months or years.