What is aikido?

Aiki Jujutsu

References to the original form, "AIKI JUJUTSU", dates back to 1150. This fighting form was closely guarded by the heads of Japanese Clans in Feudal times and was only taught to the knights of the Clan. The close combat weapons used in those days were, swords, spears, staffs knives to name a few. In general fighting was carried out in close quarters. Aikido is a Martial Art that has a history that reaches back to 11th Century Japan. It is system of training that is attributed to a Samurai General by the name of Shinra Saburo Yoshimitsu. Having studied many forms of Ju-Jitsu, the general devised a system of self-defence without weapon, that would provide his officers with both physical fitness and spiritual well being.

This system proved so successful and valuable that for centuries afterwards it was kept secret and handed down only through members of the powerful Minamoto family. Later it was handed down to the Takeda family of the Aizu clan.

Takeda Sōkaku

Takeda Sōkaku received his first martial arts training from his father Takeda Sōkichi a samurai of the Takeda clan; Sōkaku then left to go on a period of austere training where he travelled, fought and trained at the schools of many teachers, a not uncommon practise of the time.


Sōkaku engaged in many matches and duels with both shinai and live blades and was considered a swordsman of great skill in a period of time when such things were beginning to be at best forgotten and at worst thought of as outdated and old fashioned.

With the outlawing of the samurai class and the prohibition against carrying swords (Haitōrei Edict) apparently Sokaku decided to emphasize the empty handed, jujutsu oriented, techniques of his ancestor's art. These apparently were 'oshiki-uchi', or secret teachings of the Aizu clan, up to that point.

Daitō-ryū jūjutsu

These, along with other skills he had acquired, were combined to create an art which he christened first 'Daitō-ryū jūjutsu' and later 'Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu'.

Sogaku Takeda taught Morihei Ueshiba in 1910 when the he was 28 years of age. He too possessed a wide knowledge of the Japanese martial arts and was expert in many schools of Ju-Jutsu.

Morihei Ueshiba

Morihei Ueshiba first master in the martial arts was one Tokuzaburo Tozawa who taught him the forms of the Kito-Ryu school when he was in his teens.

At the age of 20 he studied Yagi-Ryu and early form of fencing from Masakatsu Nakai. It was Nakai Sensei who taught Ueshiba to use the Bokken (Wooden Sword) really well. He also studied Judo with Kiyoichi Takaki in Wakayama Ken.

From all these Morihei Ueshiba took the best of the techniques he had learned and added to them his astmery of Daitoryu-Aiki-Ju-Jutsu and so formed his own system, which is now known as Aikido.

Daitō-ryū jūjutsu

Daito-ryu is a Japanese core style from which many variations have sprung some of the better know arts include Shorinji kempo, hapkido, Kodokan judo and aiki.


O'sensei 1935 weapons demonstration, including Junken (wooden rifle with bayonet), Kenpo (sword exercises) and Kenki No Renma (spirit of sword training).

The Hut Dojo

The birth place of Aikido in the UK, where Abbe and Noro sensei taught. In this video Noro sensei is taking class circa 1964, watch out for a young Haydn Foster Sensei training.