You Are At: AllSands Home > Sports > Aikido for self defense and stress relief
If you have an interest in self-defense, martial arts would be a good way to defend yourself and get exercise. If you love to read and study eastern philosophy, a class at your local college will fit the bill. For flexibility and stress relief, you might be considering yoga or tai chi. If your interests span all of these topics, then Aikido is the perfect choice for you.

Aikido will not teach you any punches or kicks intended to inflict injury, but you will learn how to defend yourself against any attack. This martial art can teach a petite woman to be as effective as a large man is at self-defense. Aikido students learn to anticipate the moves of other people, and to use an opponent’s force against him. Therefore, the bigger a person is, and the more forcefully he attacks, the easier it is to fend him off. The techniques of Aikido make use of the laws of physics. The student does not try to interfere with natural movement, but uses his knowledge of it to his advantage. An Aikido master makes it appear ridiculously easy to lead an attacker to fall, flip, or pin himself to the ground.

There is no sparring or competitions intended to produce a “winner” in Aikido. The goal of Aikido is peace and understanding, not recognizing individual superiority or humiliating new students. Students learn to pin, throw, and disarm their opponents without injuring them. If the non-violent attitude of Aikido intrigues you, you will be happy to know that further study of the principles behind it is encouraged. To learn more about the origins and theory behind this martial art, look for books by and about the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, and his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Beware of the many offshoots of Aikido that are more violent or have compromised the integrity of the movement in order to include competitions.

Aikido is similar to tai chi in that it provides meditation through movement. Yoga is difficult for some beginners who find it hard to calm down or meditate because their minds race. Exercise such as aerobics and weight lifting are beneficial physically, but may not give you a reprieve from your worries. In Aikido, students must focus on the techniques they are practicing with their partners. Concentration on Aikido gives students a complete reprieve from life outside the dojo, or practice hall. Students are also expected to leave the rest of the world at the door and spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of each class in quiet meditation. The full range and fluid movement of Aikido is beautiful and calming to the mind, but also stretching and relaxing to the body. Aikido feels so peaceful while you are practicing that you will be surprised how sore you feel the morning after your first class! Aikido provides a full body workout that increases in difficulty the longer you study.

If you have always been interested in martial arts, but have limited motion due to a bad back, knees, or other injury, consult your local Aikido sensei (instructor). The movement of Aikido is therapeutic enough to help many limited motion conditions. Other students with permanent back or knee injuries still receive the full meditative and self-defense benefits of the art.