1. Aikido is a non-competitive martial art that focuses not on punching or kicking opponents, but rather on using their energy to gain control of them or to force them away from you.
2. Aikido is taught to many branches of the Japanese Police. Today aikido is found all over the world in several different styles, with a variety of emphases. However, they all share techniques learned from the founder, Morihei Ueshiba, and most have consideration for the well-being of the attacker.
3. American screen actor, producer, and director Steven Seagal came to Japan in the sixties at about age 20 and trained in aikido, honing his craft up to a 7th dan (7th degree black belt). In the seventies, he became the very first foreigner to run an aikido dojo (Tenshin Aikido, in Jūsō).
4. Aikido can be translated as “way of harmony”, but it’s by no means a “soft” martial art. The training is very hard – especially on the lower body, the hips, the legs. You need to develop excellent balance in order to execute the movements not from your legs but from your center.
5. You don’t have to look big and strong to be up there with the best in aikido. Jacques Payet, who was an apprentice to the great aikido master Gozo Shioda (more on page 08), said Shioda sensei was very small, about 157cm tall and weighing around 49kg, but “he would just play around with big people, very playful, but very powerful”.