We are lucky in this country that we have many different styles and types of martial art to pick from. Martial Arts were first introduced to the UK in the Victorian times with people being invited over from Japan to hold demonstrations, some of whom stayed and set up their own dojos. Below is an early video from Pathe of a demonstration from 1937. You can see Judo is already the main feature and most people would have heard of Judo from the press.

From this early beginning some martial arts became very popular and quickly spread across the country such as Judo and Karate. Then in the 1960’s and 70’s films arrived showing Chinese martial arts which helped to accelerate the growth of Kung Fu, Tai Chi, Wing Chun etc through the country.

Why didn’t Aikido spread quickly at this time?

To understand why Aikido wasn’t as popular at this time we have to look at Aikido in Japan in the 1920’s and 30’s. At this time the founder Morihei Ueshiba was teaching Aikido but only to students who were committed and serious about their study of Aikido, which meant they had to be sponsored before entering the dojo by someone of good standing in the community. Therefore it was only taught to a small group of people who Ueshiba knew would be committed students. It was not until after the second world war that Aikido started to arrive in the UK in the mid 1950’s and even then it took to the 70’s and 80’s for Yoshinkan Aikido to send teachers to live and teach Aikido in the UK.

This means Aikido is playing catch up to the likes of Judo who have had early starts in this country and have managed to get themselves in a great position with lottery backing and to feature in the olympics.

Why choose Aikido instead of other Martial Arts?

When you learn Aikido we focus heavily on the basics of becoming very stable and centred when moving and therefore being able to move and control the other persons balance. From this point we then learn to control different parts of someones body through controls such as wrist techniques, entering throws etc. All the time we are dealing with attacks from grabs, punches, strikes, controls and so on, using varying speed and distance from the other person. Later we then move on to weapons and dealing with attacks from the staff, sword and knife.

This gives a really broad and in depth understanding of how to respond and control many different attacks and through repeated practice we become better and better until it becomes natural.

Because we don’t have competitions in Aikido it means we don’t train for one situation. For example in Judo you train to compete against one person starting from a set position from a known grab, with a known set of techniques that can be used.
In Aikido we train for attacks from multiple people, with different distances, attacks and using all of the techniques. This gives you a very broad set of skills instead of a narrow set for one particular occasion of competition.

Is Aikido right for me?

Aikido is a not something you can learn quickly, although this can be said about all budo and martial arts, Aikido really takes serious time and effort to get results from it. I only started to feel confident with the basics after 5 or 6 years and only after 10 years did I start to think I was progressing. But I still have a long way to go before I would consider myself good at Aikido.

Therefore Aikido is something that is ideal for someone who has patience and the want to perfect what they are doing by practising it over and over again improving it each time. If you don’t consider yourself someone who has lots of patience and the determination to keep training at something in this way then it can still be a great thing to try. You might unlock that inner compulsion and learn something that will improve your confidence, posture, balance, flexibility and many more things besides.

Watch a Class

For more information about Aikido please follow this link to our Beginners Classes, or just come down to watch a class and ask any questions you may have.
Beginners Classes