About Aikido

Aikido is the principle of non-resistance. Because it is non-resistant, it is victorious from the beginning. Those with evil intentions or contentious thoughts are instantly vanquished.

Morihei Ueshiba (founder of Aikido)

Aikido is the Japanese martial art that uses a system of holds, throws, and locks as its principal movements. The art focuses on controlling one’s ki (vital energy within the body that is centered in the abdominal region) to subdue an opponent. Aikido principles hold that the mind and body are one. When a person acts in this manner, great power is possible. By joining with the motion of an attack and taking control of its force, it is possible to redirect the power of the attack safely and effectively.

Aikido was developed in the early 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883 - 1969); known to his students as O-Sensei (Great Teacher). A legendary master of several schools of martial arts, O-Sensei was also a deeply spiritual man. An early taste of war forged his opposition to the use of martial arts for destructive purposes. His pursuits of these passions led him to the development of Aikido, a discipline designed to control aggression and violence, as well as help people realise their full potential as individuals: physically, mentally and spiritually.

Jyo

Essentially the jyo is a wooden staff approx 128 cm in length. In modern times the measurements has been fixed to 128 cm in length and between 2.4 - 2.6 cm in width, though in the Edo-period the length of the jyo was customised as to suit the height of the wielder. The jyo is used in several martial arts such as Aikido and Tendo-ryu respectively.

The jyo, like its larger sibling the Bo, was never an effective killing-weapon on the battlefield in comparison to the sword, spear, glaive and bow. Although the jyo and most other staves could be used to lethal effect when thrust at vital points of the body, when faced with a fully armoured opponent those vital points would in most cases be covered by amour-plating.

With the onset of peace with the start of the Edo-period (1603-1867), the conflicts with heavy armoured warriors became a thing of the past. In this era, the jyo-art would come into its own against non-armoured samurai, ronin, bandits and other opponents. It was extensively used to police the local clan domains.

One of the most famous promoter of the jyo, was the founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. The jyo was also adapted by Morihei Ueshiba, to teach the principles of aikido. His use of the weapon is called aikijo. Aikijo resembles jodo in that both involve fencing with the jyo, but differs in the nature and purpose of the fencing. Jodo techniques are often faster and sharper because angular attacks and defences are part of its combat orientation. Aikijo techniques are slower and softer because circular movements can blend with attacks and defences and reduce the attitude of conflict. Inserting and entwining techniques are not found to the same extent in aikijo as they are in jodo, nor are the numerous targets of atemi waza. Aikijo does have jyo-taking and jyo-keeping techniques, but these are aikido throws in which the jyo is incidental to the throw rather than essential to it.

Bokken

A bokken , (bok, "wood", and ken, "sword"), is a wooden Japanese sword used for training, usually the size and shape of a katana but sometimes shaped like other swords, such as the wakizashi and tanto. Bokken is a term synonymous with bokuto in Japan, but is more widely used in the west. Historically, bokken are as old as Japanese swords, and were used for the training of warriors.

Tanto

A tanto ("short sword") is a common Japanese single or, occasionally, double edged knife or dagger with a blade length between 15 and 30 cm (6-12 inches). The tanto was designed primarily as stabbing instrument, but the edge can be used to slash as well. Tanto with a blunt wooden or blunt plastic blade are used to practise safely. Also, versions with a blunt metal blade exist and are used in more advanced training or demonstrations.

Iaido

Iaido is a Japanese martial art associated with the smooth, controlled movements of drawing the sward from its scabbard, striking or cutting an opponent, removing blood from the blade, and then replacing the sword in the scabbard. While new students of iaido may start learning with a wooden sword (bokken) depending on the teaching style of a particular teacher, many of those who study iaido use a blunted metal practice sword (iaito). Advanced practitioners of iaido use a sharpened metal sword (shinken). Because iaido teaches the use of actual metal weaponry, it is almost entirely based on the teaching of forms, or kata. Multiple person kata do exist within in some forms of iaido, but the iaidoka (practitioners of iaido) will usually use bokken for such kata practice. Iaido does not include direct competition or sparring of any kind.

The British Birankai (formerly British Aikikai) was born out of the natural evolution of events in the development of Aikido in the United Kingdom.TK Chiba Shihan commenced his Aikido training in 1958 as an uchideshi (live-in student) of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, at the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. He studied with the Founder intensively for seven years and in 1966 he was assigned to Great Britain to form its first national Aikikai organisation, the Aikikai of Great Britain. The assignment of Chiba Shihan followed the return to Japan in 1964 of Professor Kenshiro Abbe, one of the pioneers of Aikido in the UK who spent ten years in Britain and founded the British Aikido Council.

During the ten years Chiba Shihan spent in the UK, he also helped to promote Aikido in Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Holland, Morocco, Spain and Switzerland. In 1970 he was promoted to 6th Dan and awarded the title ‘Shihan’, Master Instructor.

Chiba Shihan returned to Japan in 1976 and on the invitation of the United States Aikido Federation (USAF), he moved to San Diego in 1981 where he formed the San Diego Aikikai and where the Western region of the USAF began operation. He was promoted to 8th Dan in 1994.

The Aikikai of Great Britain underwent many changes and was renamed the British Aikido Federation when Chiba Shihan returned to Japan in 1976. In 1987 after ten years of struggle the United Kingdom Aikikai (UKA) was formed under the guidance of Chiba Shihan out of the British Aikido Federation. Following Chiba Shihan’s resignation from the UKA a group of his senior students came together to form the British Aikikai with Chiba Shihan as its Technical Director in 1995. The BA was initially affiliated directly to the USAF Western Region and in 1999 became an independent organisation.

In 2000 Chiba Shihan formally founded Birankai International as a non-profit educational organisation dedicated to the growth of Aikido and to bring together all his students throughout the world under one umbrella. In December 2005 the Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan officially recognised Birankai International. Further information on the web-site www.birankai.org.

From January 2006 the British Aikikai was renamed British Birankai in line with the guidelines set out by Birankai International.

British Birankai was given official recognition by Aikido World Headquarters, Tokyo, Japan in April 2006.

The British Birankai is a member of the British Aikido Board