What is Aikido?
Aikido is a Japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba (whom Aikido students refer to as “O-Sensei” or “Great Teacher”). O-Sensei was a major figure in the history of martial arts, and his work in the past century was in many ways a quantum leap in the evolution of martial arts.

What kinds of things does one learn in Aikido?

Students of Aikido practice how to use their body and mind in a natural and optimally efficient way. Aikido includes many responses to different types of attacks including throws, holds, joint locks, pins, and disarming techniques. In addition to unarmed training, Aikido practice also includes learning how to use weapons such as the bokken (wooden sword), jo (wooden staff) and tanto (wooden knife). Many observers perceive elements of other martial arts when watching an Aikido class; however Aikido has many unique technical features including a particular approach to using movement, timing, and reaction. In the course of practicing its vast number of techniques and situations Aikido also develops judgment, balance and increased awareness.

How is Aikido different from other martial arts?

Aikido is different in many ways. First, one can distinguish in general the old versus new martial arts. Older forms of Japanese martial arts focused almost entirely on fighting techniques. Their names often include the suffix “jitsu” which means technique, for example jujitsu, or kenjitsu. The modern martial arts, of which Aikido is one, add the idea of personal development as well, as many of them contain the last Japanese character “do”, which translates as “path”. Beyond that, Aikido has a unique character that can be seen in its approach to martial arts training. Unlike most martial arts, Aikido has no competition. Students work cooperatively to improve their understanding and execution of the techniques. Aikido focuses on the art of efficiently moving oneself and one’s opponent, and conversely, on safely receiving the power of the opponent. A relaxed body is necessary to learn this skill, and this is best developed by cooperative practice. For similar reasons, there are no tournaments or contests. Instead, Aikidoists gather at large practice sessions and seminars where everyone trains together.Another example of Aikido’s unique approach is that Aikido does not emphasize strikes, except insofar as they are integrated into techniques as part of the total body movement. While knowledge of other martial arts doesn't detract from Aikido training, the student of Aikido must learn a significantly different approach to training.

What do people expect to gain as a result of training in Aikido?
Aikido is an endeavor with many features, and consequently, the reasons for practicing can vary. Some people want to learn self-defense, others movement. Some have heard of the idea of “turning the energy of the attack against the attacker”, while others are interested in the translation of philosophy into physical movement. Some people do it simply for exercise. One common theme is that Aikidoists enjoy practicing in itself, and the sense of well-being and centeredness that comes with it, as well as the challenge of learning Aikido’s complex techniques. It is difficult to say what benefits it will bring until one actually begins.

Who can practice Aikido?
Aikido is available to almost anyone who wants to learn it. Aikido practitioners range from 5 years old to eighty. Like most Aikido dojos, we have children’s classes for younger students to get them started. The adults program includes everyone else. No previous martial arts experience is necessary, nor does one have to be in top physical condition. Aikido practice will gradually increase one’s strength and flexibility. If you have particular physical problems, you should first talk to your doctor, and then with the Chief Instructor. In general, since a beginner practices at a slow and easy pace, it is usually possible for you to determine for yourself, in the process of Aikido practice, if the problem is manageable or not, without risking any serious injury.

Does Aikido work?
Aikido is a martial art, and as such, a fundamental requirement is that it works as a self-defense system. It is rooted in the pragmatic study of martial effectiveness. However, its sophisticated techniques take a long time to learn, and one should not expect instant proficiency.

What does Framingham “Aikikai" mean?
Aikikai means “Aikido organization”. It signifies in a general way the style of Aikido training of those who follow O-Sensei. The Aikikai Foundation is the official name of Aikido World Headquarters in Tokyo, where O-Sensei taught, and where his son was and now grandson is the chief instructor. It therefore signifies the Aikido lineage and style that  is generally considered the most authentic transmission of O-Sensei's teachings.

What is Iaido?
Iaido is a martial art evolved from traditional Japanese swordsmanship. The art began to be taught publicly in the 1800's but dates far back in Japanese history. It focuses on techniques of drawing, cutting, and re-sheathing the sword, in a multitude of situations. Iaido is a separate yet complementary martial art to Aikido. While Aikido practice includes weapons training, especially the use of the bokken (wooden sword) and jo (wooden staff), learning how to handle a sword can provide additional insight into Aikido. Some fundamental similarities are the emphasis on being "present" (or focused) in a relaxed state, using proper body mechanics and breath control.