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Etymology and basic philosophy

The word "aikido" is formed of three kanji:

  •  – ai – joining, unifying, combining, fit
  •  – ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale
  •  –  – way, path

The term "aiki" does not readily appear in the Japanese language outside the scope of Budo. This has led to many possible interpretations of the word. is mainly used in compounds to mean 'combine, unite, join together, meet', examples being 合同 (combined/united), 合成 (composition), 結合 (unite/combine/join together), 連合 (union/alliance/association), 統合 (combine/unify), and 合意 (mutual agreement). There is an idea of reciprocity, 知り合う (to get to know one another), 話し合い (talk/discussion/negotiation), and 待ち合わせる (meet by appointment).

is often used to express a feeling, as in 気がする ('I feel', as in terms of thinking but with less cognitive reasoning), 気持ち (feeling/sensation), and 気分 (mood/morale). It is used to mean energy or force, as in 電気 (electricity) and 磁気 (magnetism).

The term is also found in martial arts such as judo and kendo, and in the more peaceful arts such as Japanese calligraphy (shodō), flower arranging (kadō) and tea ceremony (chadō or sadō).

Therefore, from a purely linguistic point of view, aikido is 'Way of combining forces'. The term aiki refers to the martial arts principle or tactic of blending with an attacker's movements for the purpose of controlling their actions with minimal effort.One applies aiki by understanding the rhythm and intent of the attacker to find the optimal position and timing to apply a counter-technique. This then is very similar to the principles expressed by Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo.

Excerpt from Wikipedia