The Kokusai Budoin, International Martial Arts Federation, is comprised of seven divisions representing the various Japanese martial arts. These include Judo, Kendo, Karatedo, Aikido, Iaido, Nihon Jujutsu and Kobudo. Each division has an extensive heritage rooted in the traditions of classical martial arts.

Historical Overview

Aikido is a dynamic, modern Japanese martial art developed in the early 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), widely known by Aikido practitioners as O-Sensei (Great or Honorable Master/Teacher). From his youth Ueshiba studied various traditional Japanese martial arts including kenjutsu (swordsmanship), sojutsu (spear fighting), and jujutsu. Many Aikido techniques can be directly traced to traditional Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu and the teachings of Sokaku Takeda (1858-1943), Japan’s premier Daito-ryu Aiki Jujutsu instructor, and Ueshiba’s most significant Jujutsu mentor.

In its early, pre-World War II years, access to Aikido instruction was very exclusive, limited to individuals with proper, personal high-level introductions to Morihei Ueshiba. Many of these early Aikido students were already accomplished practitioners of more established Japanese martial arts such as Kendo and Judo. It was not until the 1950’s, under the leadership of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the founder’s son and inheritor of the leadership of Aikido, that Aikido was widely taught in Japan. It then rapidly spread in popularity around the world, and today is one of the most widely practiced Japanese martial arts.

What is Aikido?

The Japanese word Aikido consists of three characters that mean the way of spiritual harmony. Some additional insight into the soul of Aikido is revealed by the saying of "unification of technique, body, and spirit", which is used to explain the meaning and objective of Aikido.

Regular training is usually in pairs through prearranged techniques of attack and defense, utilizing throwing and joint lock techniques under the guidance of an instructor. Additionally, both the bokken (wooden sword) and the jo (short staff) are used in solo and partner training. The primary technical emphasis is on circular movements seeking to harmonize one’s movements with a partner and non-resistance or blending with a forceful attack rather than direct confrontation.

"Even the most powerful human being has a limited sphere of strength. Draw him outside of that sphere and into your own, and his strength will be neutralized."
- Morihei Ueshiba

Aikido is equally effective for women and men of all ages. It focuses on life-long personal, spiritual, mental and physical development rather than fighting techniques and proficiency. It is ideal for developing physical and mental health, peace and harmony. Aikido, with the notable exception of Tomiki-ryu Aikido, has no competitive aspects at all, and the exceptions are generally limited to point systems to assess specific skill development rather than win-lose competition.

There are several major Aikido styles practiced today, including Aikikai, Iwama-ryu, Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, Tomiki-ryu Aikido, Yoshinkan Aikido, Shinshin Toitsu Aikido, in addition to many minor styles.

IMAF Aikido Division

From its founding in 1954, IMAF has been devoted to providing a forum where Japanese martial arts practitioners from divergent backgrounds and styles could meet and further their studies in an atmosphere of respect and cooperation. The position of IMAF Aikido Division Shihan (Division Director) has been held by the world’s foremost Aikido authorities; beginning with Kisshomaru Ueshiba, son of the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, and late director of the Aikikai Hombu. He was succeeded by Dr. Kenji Tomiki (founder of Tomiki-ryu Aikido), Minoru Mochizuki (10th dan Aikido), and Gozo Shioda (10th dan Aikido, founder of Yoshinkan Aikido). The current Shihan are Takeji Tomita and Shinji Tsutsui.

"Aikido as a martial art is perfected by being alert to everything going on around us and leaving no vulnerable opening. Practice becomes joyful and pleasant once one has trained enough not to be bothered by pain. Do not be satisfied by what is taught at the dojo. One must constantly digest, experiment, and develop what one has learned. One should never force things unnaturally or unreasonably in practice. One should undertake training suited to one’s body, physical condition, and age. The aim of Aikido is to develop the truly human self. It should not be used to display ego."
- Kisshomaru Ueshiba

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