What is Aikido?
Hitohiro sensei in the Iwama dojo with the classic kokyu-ho.
Aikido has many descriptions. Here are several classics:
from "Aikido" by Uyeshiba Kisshomaru
"Aikido is The Way of Chivalrous (or Martial) Spiritual Harmony. Aikido is the art of assimilation and unification with Nature. There is no duality, no struggle, no opponent. There is only a harmonious action of our own spirit with the spirit of the univere...do you need to start fighting in the state of no enemy, in the world of no opponent, on the creation of the Creator?"
from "Traditional Aikido Volume 4 Vital Techniques" by Morihiro Saito.
"According to Old Master Morihei Uyeshiba, "Aikido is a divine truth which spells out a sophisticated implementation of Takemusu Aiki." This means "Aikido is nothing without Takemusu Aiki". Consequently, "Takemusu Aiki" should be a matter of paramount concern to the Aikido trainees.
The Aikido Founder defined Takemusu Aiki as follows: "Takemusu, as identified in Shinto literature, is the unsurpassed martial art of Japan. The art therefore proliferates a multitude of techiques freely as Divine Will sees fit." Such being the case, only by focusing our attention on the root of the kaleidoscopic techniques will we be able to get a few glimpses of the unfathomable depth of Aikido"
"For the millions of people who have been attracted to the Oriental martial arts in recent decades, aikido presents a facinating paradox. Its stance is non-combative. Its most fundamental response to attack involves seeing the world from the attacher's viewpoint. And its ultimate aim is love, harmony, the end of conflict and war. All this in an art known for the effectiveness of its control techniques and the irrestible power of its throws. Within certain basic principles, in fact, its techniques and variations are infinite."
List 1 from Aikido of Ashland.
List 2 from Doshin Martial Arts
List 3 from Ohayosensei
List 4 from Aikido Journal
Aikido is first and formost keiko (practice). Off the mat, it can escalate rapidly into some truly esoteric areas. Check this one out for starters.
Aikido is diversifying off the mat into very organized and effective tools for conflict resolution. In New Jersey, Rick Stickles sensei has this to say about that.