What does Aikido means in English?
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Aikido, a modern Japanese martial art (or correct: a martial way = “budo”), is a surrogate or synthesis of ancient budo schools where martial skills (bujutsu) and warfare (heiho) as well as spiritual exercises were taught to the Japanese warriors (samurai). In its unique approach, aikido hands down the essence of Japanese war culture and samurai tradition (bushido). Aikido is still a martial way of training and developing body, mind and spirit, it is still true budo but without being an anachronism to our modern day world. So, the ancient budo principles, methods, and strategies are no longer used to prepare for the medieval battlefields but for self-defense situations, they are no longer methods of warfare but of conflict resolution. Based on its ethical basis, aikido teaches appropriate and peaceful answers to violence and conflict in modern societies.
A Japanese martial art started by Morihei Ueshiba. It is for self defense and can be translated as "the art of peace". This is not necessarily true. During WWII the allies invaded Japan and outlawed the practicing of any sort of military training. The ingenious teachers changed the fighting style to make it seem passive, allowing them to continue to teach and practice aikido. If you take it in a dojo they will teach you the soft version. However, their are still movies that will show you the darker side of this martial art. Even without being shown you can see that every move can be turned into a deadly retailation. Now a days they teach throws and how to basically drop you opponent/pin him/her into submission. It is still very painful and effective but can be deadly if you know what you are doing. Every grab or move can be adjusted to break the neck of your opponent or cause crippling/fatal damage.
Aikido is the most dangerous martial art out there. True masters are impossible to hit and the legendary Ueshiba was rumored to have been able to dodge bullets. Read about him or attend a seminar in a local dojo. You will think people are faking falling and such but if you try yourself you will see that they aren't.