Aikido Ken Williams 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 self-defence 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.

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