Aikido is one of the Japanese Martial Art forms which evolved in the 20th century and spread to the rest of the world after the Second World War. I advise you to attend at least one Aikido class while you are visiting Japan. Aikido is gaining popularity day by day due to its unique style. In Japanese, it is written as 合気道 and it means a “path of unifying life and spirit”. It has disseminated widely due to the neo-Shinto movement back in the day.
Aikido requires both physical and mental training and it can be learned along with Judo or Karate. It requires mental composure to maintain a vibe in combat. The main combatants are the receiver called “Uke” and the applier of the technique called “Tori”. Also, you can use weapons which make it even more cool and challenging. The typical sword called “Kata”, along with stick and knife can be used as weaponry during training. There are also various sects related to Aikido such as “Kendo” and “Iaido” which are solely sword based Martial Art forms. Aikido emphasizes more on mind relaxation and confidence rather than strength buildup. So, it is also a great way to develop a balanced and peaceful mind alongside Yoga or Meditation. Freestyle Aikido called “Randori” is very interesting to watch as the master flips his students in the air and knocks them down very gently to the ground.
Aikido is suitable for people from all walks of life regardless of gender, age, and shape. It is open to everyone and it requires nothing but your intention to learn. There is a dress code for Aikido called “Hakama” which is a traditional waistline robe worn by men. It is extremely important to fold your Hakama and keep it safe as it is seen as a respectful thing in Japanese culture. There are also some modern designers who have blended old Hakama fashion into normal urban street wear.
Aikido Dojo is the place to join. But not all of them could teach you in English. If you are based in Tokyo, there is a foreign friendly training center called Aikikai Hombu in Shinjuku. It offers different lengths of classes in both Japanese and English. Have a try! Good luck!
・98 Things to Do in Shinjuku, the Party District of Tokyo, in 2018!