Our brief historical background to aikido starts with judo with which most people are familiar. Judo was founded by Jigoro Kano (1860-1938) in the late 19th century and has its origins in jujutsu. He made a scientific study and classification of the techniques of the good schools of jujutsu, and deduced the fundamental principles common to each one.

At the time of the modernization of Japan he saw that it was vital to preserve the techniques of old jujutsu in a modern format that could be practised with a competitive aspect. His viewpoint was physical education and cultivation of the mind, transforming something only involving techniques into something for personal development.

Judo involves grasping the opponent’s lapels and sleeves at a grappling range then throwing and pinning using techniques grouped into nage waza (throwing techniques) and katame waza (restraining techniques) respectively. Techniques that he was unable to include in competitive judo were grouped together and practised in the same way that old jujutsu was practised, as formal prearranged movements between two people.

Next we consider kendo which is also well known. Kendo also developed significantly through its modernization into a competitive format (but still retaining the practice of prearranged forms). The development of training methods using bamboo swords and protective armour around 300 years ago is arguably the start of competitive practice and therefore the modernization of kendo. Competition involves strikes and thrusts to prescribed areas of the body which are protected by armour.

Before the modernization of judo and kendo, techniques were practised by repetition of prearranged movements between two people over a long period of time. Nowadays, they both have a competitive side but they also still retain the formal practice of techniques as this is very important part of learning and understanding.