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About aikido


The Founder of Aikido

Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), studied many different martial arts during his life. He was well versed in judo, daito-ryu jujutsu, and various weapon systems such as kenjutsu, bayonet, wand and spear techniques. He was also a member of the Kashima Shinto-ryu Sword School.

Based on his experience in various martial arts, Ueshiba developed what we today call Aikido.

At the statue of Osensei in Tanabe on Riai’s group trip to Japan 2016.

Morihei Ueshiba is often referred to as Osensei, which roughly translates to “the great teacher”. Osensei was born in Tanabe, moved to Tokyo where he opened his own dojo in 1931. There he also founded the Aikikai Foundation, which today is the world’s largest aikido organization with headquarters in Tokyo (Hombu Dojo).

Morihiro Saito Sensei splits his birthday cake on his 70th birthday in 1998. Photo: Pia Moberg

In 1942, Osensei chose to settle in the countryside in the village of Iwama, north of Tokyo, where he lived until his death in 1969. He emphasized the importance of cultivating the land and built an aikido shrine (Aiki Jinja) that can be visited when traveling to Iwama. In parallel with his many educational trips, Osensei further developed aikido in Iwama.

As time passed, he got many students from all over the world, each of whom interpreted Osensei’s teaching based on their understanding. One of the students was Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002), who lived with Osensei in Iwama for 23 years, 1946-1969. After Osensei’s death, Morihiro Saito managed Osensei’s dojo and Aiki Jinja in Iwama until his death in 2002. The aikido Riai Aikido Dojo’s practices is based on Morihiro Saito Sensei’s traditional aikido.

What is aikido today?

Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art based on traditional budo disciplines. Aikido trained today is a peaceful, non-competitive martial art, where the goal is to be able to control the attacker, and, not least, yourself.

The effects of the training are; you get a mental focus and can concentrate better in your everyday life. You become physically stronger and more fit. The training is stress-reducing, revitalizing and you feel better, both physically and mentally. You usually train in pairs and learn grip- and throwing techniques. Training with wooden stick (jo) and wooden sword (bokken) are an important part of the training.

In aikido, the first point of contact triggers action. Instead of using force against force, we learn the principle of how a small force guides a larger one. The movements are usually circular and based on the Japanese fencing art.

There are no competitions in Aikido, which means we can train together, girls and boys, men and women, old and young and all based on their own abilities. It matters less if you are small or large, short or tall, weak or strong – aikido is based on technique and movement, not size or strength! Children and youth from the age of five train in different groups. Each age group’s training is based on their abilities.

A little about characters: Budo, aikido and reigi

Budo is the collective term for the Japanese martial arts and roughly means “the way of the warrior”. Budo consists of two Japanese characters, bu (武) and do (道). Bu has the meaning “military / samurai / warrior”, but also has another dimension. The lower part of the sign means stop, control. The upper right part means spear/weapon. The sign can therefore also be interpreted as being able to take control of his / her weapon. Do means “path”, which illustrates the direction chosen. Budo (武 道) can therefore be translated as “the path to self-control”. Ultimately, it is about preparing both mentally, emotionally and physically to be able to handle all situations, which may arise in life, in the best possible way.


Aikido is a branch of the budo family. Ai (合) carries the meaning meeting (meet), harmony (harmonize with). Ki (気) means energy / power, and do is the same sign as in Budo. Aikido (合 気 道) can be translated as “The Path of the Harmonious Power”.


The word reigi consists of two characters in Japanese. Rei (礼) includes the importance of being polite, humble and showing gratitude. Gi (義) roughly means rules and ceremony. Reigi (礼義) can be translated as “correct etiquette”, where the meaning is the inner attitude matches the outer behavior.


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