Aikido training combines mental and physical aspects. The focus of physical training is on endurance, flexibility and controlled relaxation, rather than just physical force. Whole body coordination, balance and movement are considered important aspects of aikido.
Aikido training is based on practicing pre-arranged forms, called kata, with a partner. One partner initiates an attack against their opponent, and the opponent attempts to redirect the attack. The role of attacker and opponent are considered equally important in training.
Training in combat technique occurs as students learn different types of strikes, throws and pins. Because aikido was derived in part from sword fighting, students may practice with weapons to gain insight as to the origin of the technique. Some schools of aikido incorporate weapons into fighting while others do not.
Mental training in aikido occurs by awareness of "chi", an ancient Asian term used to denote the "vital force" thought of as inherent in all things. The unification of mental and physical intention is considered crucial for attacking with correct timing and for the ability to relax even in the most stressful situations. In some schools of Aikido, students receive ranking in their development of chi, independent of their skills in physical confrontation.
Expertise in and mastery of aikido is determined by a progress of promotion. Students ascend a series of what are known as grades followed by a series of degrees. Promotion is determined through a number of formalized testing procedures.
Like all martial arts, aikido training focuses on an awareness of the body. Correct breathing and attack patterns are developed as a means to maximize the flow of energy, or chi, into and out of the body.
A 1995 study conducted by Delva-Tauiliili trained 21 youth who were identified as lacking self-control in the beginning principles of aikido. The outcome of the study was inconclusive.
Patients should only engage in aikido training under a qualified, well-trained aikido master.
Patients with arthritis, musculoskeletal disturbances or osteoporosis should consult an expert in their condition before beginning training in aikido.
This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
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Delva-Tauiliili J. Does brief Aikido training reduce aggression of youth? Percept Mot Skills. 1995 Feb;80(1):297-8.
President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. www.fitness.gov. Last accessed June 3, 2007.
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