Established 1964

About Aikido

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba (pictured left) around the middle of the 1900's. Aikido is a method of un-armed self-defence that is derived from ancient Japanese martial arts including Jujutsu, Aiki-Budo, Kenjutsu, and Kendo.

Aikido is a truly defensive martial art that teaches us to avoid conflict if at all possible. If a situation should arise where physical conflict cannot be avoided, Aikido teaches us to neutralise an opponent's attack peacefully but effectively, while causing little or no permanent injury to the attacker. Aikido employs joint locks, pins, immobilizations, and throws, which project an attacker safely away from the practitioner, and is specifically designed to defend against multiple attackers.

Aikido teaches us to use body movement and not physical strength to generate power. By using the whole of ones body mass concentrated against specific weak points and areas of unbalance in an attacker, it is possible to generate tremendously powerful and effective self-defence techniques. This makes Aikido an excellent self-defence system for women as well as men. In addition to self-defence, Aikido teaches us to develop balance, focus, flexibility, improved physical fitness, awareness, and agility.

Aikido is also intrinsically linked to the study of philosophy. Ultimately Aikido teaches us to live in peace and harmony with the world around us. To remain flexible, balanced, and firmly grounded. To meet any attacks against us without ego or aggression. To blend, move, and harmonise with any forces that appear to be attacking us. This way of thinking is not simply for application in situations of physical confrontation. At a deeper level Aikido is studied as a way of improving every aspect of every moment of the practitioner's life. It serves to develop the mind as well as the body.

Iwama Style

Iwama Style Aikido is taught at Cambridge Aikido.

Iwama is a small village in the Ibaraki prefecture of Japan, and it is the place where the founder created his art of Aikido in the mid 1900's. He spent the remainder of his life living in Iwama, developing and teaching Aikido there.

The man who spent by far the most time with the founder was a student by the name of Morihiro Saito (pictured right). Saito began training with the founder as a young man and stayed with him for over 25 years until the time of the founder's death in 1969.

Before he died, the founder passed responsibility of the dojo in Iwama to Saito sensei, while the official headquarters of Aikido, located in Tokyo, was left to the founder's son.

Saito sensei saw that the popularity of Aikido was spreading around the world and realised that the founder's personal students could not be on hand everywhere around the world to ensure that the founder's Aikido was being taught and practiced correctly. He created an organisation, "Iwama Ryu", or "The Iwama School of Aikido", as a method of ensuring that Aikido was taught in a consistent manner, in a way which would preserve the Aikido of the founder.

Iwama Style Aikido differs from many styles of Aikido in that a much stronger emphasis is placed on mastering the fundamentals of basic Aikido movement from a static position before learning to apply the techniques in a more advanced constantly moving and flowing manner.  Saito sensei believed that understanding basic principals and building upwards on a strong foundation was of paramount importance.

Iwama Style Aikido also places more emphasis on the study of traditional weaponry than many other styles of Aikido.

Sadly, Saito sensei passed away on May 13, 2002.  This was a huge loss to the Aikido community. Cambridge Aikido is now part of the Takemusu Aikido Association, an organisation that promotes Morihei Ueshiba's Aikido as passed on by his longest direct student, Morihiro Saito.

Body Techniques

Aikido contains hundreds of unarmed self-defence techniques.  Most are derived from a core of 6 basic throws and 6 immobilisations. If they are performed correctly, all these techniques are extremely powerful and can be done without causing serious injury to your opponent.

Aikido body techniques may appear to be quite simple at first but in fact, they take years of dedicated practice to perfect. The principal behind all Aikido technique is to use movement and the power of ones entire body against the weakest and most unbalanced points of an attacker. It takes years of training to acquire the understanding and physical movement required to master Aikido.


In Aikido, some aspects of traditional Japanese weaponry are practiced as part of regular training.  In Iwama Style Aikido the weapons study plays a significant role.

Weapons are studied in Aikido to help the student understand the body movement and martial awareness required to master the body technique.

Aikido weapons consist of the Jo (4 foot wooden staff) and the Bokken (wooden practice samurai sword).  Some weapons exercises are done individually to perfect correct form, and others are done as partner practices to develop awareness, timing, and the proper martial state of mind.