What is Aikido?
Aikido is a modern Japanese Budo ("Martial Way"), based on techniques of self-defence from centuries-old traditions. It was created by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), often called O-Sensei, or "venerable teacher". The principle of aiki ("matching spirit"), can be understood as taking an attacker's power away, rather than aggressively opposing them.
Aikido techniques consist of unarmed self-defence against various armed or unarmed attacks. The attacker is either immobilised through joint locks or thrown to a safe distance. Ukemi, or the practice of receiving, is a vital part of aikido training, and is practised both as rolling and falling exercises and as part of regular aikido training with a partner.
Although the techniques can be very effective and powerful, and include some painful joint locks and pressure points, they are designed to work through breaking the balance of the partner, rather than damaging their body.
Because of the emphasis on relaxation and the use of spherical movement instead of physical force, aikido does not demand great physical strength or fitness. However, the natural movements of aikido lead to a flexible and healthy body, and many people experience a pleasant feeling of well-being during and after classes. Training at a beginners' level is generally conducted in a cooperative, rather than competitive, manner, and injuries are rare. There are no tournaments in aikido, and it is suitable for people of all ages and constitutions.
Southampton Aikikai has been running since 1984, when the Southampton University Aikido Club was established. It consists of students and staff of the University as well as members form outside the University (please note that all members are currently required to have SportsRec registration with the Department of Sports and Wellbeing).
Alex Megann (5th Dan and Shidoin with the BAF) is the chief instructor, and holds the qualification of "Coach" with the Joint Aikido Council (JAC). Jim Anderson (2nd Dan, and JAC Coach) assists in classes, and normally teaches the Friday afternoon class. Adam Blaker (1st Dan and JAC Coach) also teaches occasional classes.
Southampton Aikikai is affiliated to the British Aikido Federation, and through the BAF its yudansha (black belt holders) are registered with the Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo.
What "style" of aikido do we practise?
We follow the mainstream "Aikikai" tradition, based on the curriculum of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. We concentrate very much on basic technique and body movement, stressing the importance both of correct technique and of "aiki", or "connection".
Other dojos nearby