March 22, 2017



Natural Standard Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.

Related Terms

  • Gendai budo, kanji, kata.


  • Aikido is a form of martial arts, which combines philosophy, mental training and physical fitness. This particular martial art stresses an awareness of energy and whole-body coordination in combat.

  • Aikido is a word that is comprised of three Japanese characters: ai, or joining; ki, or spirit; and do, or way. Used together, these words convey the principle of two bodies in combat moving to redirect one another's blows.

  • Aikido is a modern Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba over a period of three decades, beginning in the 1920s.

  • Aikido is not primarily a form of combat technique. Training and working within the aikido also involves a strong spiritual component. Although aikido instruction does focus on the development of physical strength, this practice goes hand in hand with the development of the spiritual self. The English translations of aikido are "the way to union with universal energy," "the way of spiritual harmony," and "the way of peace."

  • There is a lack of available high quality studies that evaluate the efficacy of aikido as a means of achieving physical fitness or treating any medical condition.

  • Aikido is a relatively well-known form of martial arts in the United States. As a practice combining spiritual development with physical activity, aikido has become more popular in recent years.


  • Aikido training combines mental and physical aspects. The focus of physical training is on endurance, flexibility and controlled relaxation, rather than just physical force. Whole body coordination, balance and movement are considered important aspects of aikido.

  • Aikido training is based on practicing pre-arranged forms, called kata, with a partner. One partner initiates an attack against their opponent, and the opponent attempts to redirect the attack. The role of attacker and opponent are considered equally important in training.

  • Training in combat technique occurs as students learn different types of strikes, throws and pins. Because aikido was derived in part from sword fighting, students may practice with weapons to gain insight as to the origin of the technique. Some schools of aikido incorporate weapons into fighting while others do not.

  • Mental training in aikido occurs by awareness of "chi", an ancient Asian term used to denote the "vital force" thought of as inherent in all things. The unification of mental and physical intention is considered crucial for attacking with correct timing and for the ability to relax even in the most stressful situations. In some schools of Aikido, students receive ranking in their development of chi, independent of their skills in physical confrontation.

  • Expertise in and mastery of aikido is determined by a progress of promotion. Students ascend a series of what are known as grades followed by a series of degrees. Promotion is determined through a number of formalized testing procedures.


  • Like all martial arts, aikido training focuses on an awareness of the body. Correct breathing and attack patterns are developed as a means to maximize the flow of energy, or chi, into and out of the body.

  • A 1995 study conducted by Delva-Tauiliili trained 21 youth who were identified as lacking self-control in the beginning principles of aikido. The outcome of the study was inconclusive.


  • Patients should only engage in aikido training under a qualified, well-trained aikido master.

  • Patients with arthritis, musculoskeletal disturbances or osteoporosis should consult an expert in their condition before beginning training in aikido.

Author Information

  • This information has been edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).


Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Aikido.com. www.aikido.com

  2. Aikido Online. www.aikidoonline.com

  3. Aikido Journal. www.aikidojournal.com

  4. Aikiweb. www.aikiweb.com

  5. Delva-Tauiliili J. Does brief Aikido training reduce aggression of youth? Percept Mot Skills. 1995 Feb;80(1):297-8. View Abstract

  6. President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. www.fitness.gov

Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.


March 22, 2017