Aikido is one of the most graceful modern martial arts of Japan. It was created in late 1920s by Master Morihei Ueshiba (1883 — 1969), who united practical techniques of self-defense from the art of fencing with swords and spears, as well as other, more ancient types of martial arts in a unique system of physical and spiritual perfection.

Unlike most martial arts, Aikido strives to absorb impact instead of blocking it. The major goal in aikido is co-ordination with the attacker's movement and prolongation of this movement while controlling and redirecting its energy.

Regular physical activity strengthens one's health and builds up confidence in one's abilities. Movements in Aikido excercises and techniques correct one's bearing and remove stress and tension while concentrating one's attention on relaxation and breathing. Aikido movements, when repeated numerous times, result in natural, calm and relaxed reaction to any situation.

In Aikido there are no competitions, because it is based on philosophy of absence of conflict. Absence of conflict means suppressing human instincts of aggression and rivalry and directing them on the way of concord and harmony.

Skill level of those practicing Aikido is assessed by a special commission at qualification examinations, after which candidates are awarded appropriate Kyu and Dan ranks.

Particular technical features of different Aikido schools are regularly shown at festivals and demonstrations of various levels (international, national, regional, city, student).

Today the art of Aikido includes several schools. The principal one (which dates back to the Founder of Aikido and is now headed by his grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba) is the AIKIKAI Aikido school. It develops successfully in 56 countries of the world, and the number of practitioners already exceeds 1.2 million people.

The center of all AIKIKAI Aikido organizations is the AIKIKAI Foundation, founded in 1932. Since 1938, the AIKIKAI Foundation is recognized as the only state organization devoted to development of Aikido.

Headquarters of the AIKIKAI Foundation and its Training Center, known as AIKIKAI Hombu Dojo, is situated in Tokyo (17-18 Wakamatzu-Cho, Sinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-0056, Japan, telephone: (81)03-3203-9236, fax: (81)03-3204-8145).

The Chairman of the AIKIKAI Foundation and the General Director of the AIKIKAI Training Center is Mr.Moriteru Ueshiba, grandson of the Founder of Aikido. Over 30 professional instructors (shihan, shidoin) work actively at the Center. One of the major objectives of the AIKIKAI Foundation and its Training Center is provoding methodical assistance to various AIKIKAI Aikido organizations. For this purpose instructors of the Center are regularly sent to these organizations to conduct training seminars. Besides, the AIKIKAI Foundation is the only organization that conducts qualification examinations in AIKIKAI Aikido and hands out certificates.

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