Aikido has been described as "moving Zen." As with all Zen arts, although the final aim is personal transformation, the focus of the training hall is practical. Hard work is required to master the fundamentals of movement, timing and breathing.
"This is not mere theory," O-Sensei, the founder of Aikido, said. "You must practice it."
Practicing in partners, each working at his or her own level, students alternate as the attacker and the one who receives the attack. Learning to take falls safely is an important aspect of training. Whether executing the technique or taking a fall, the Aikidoist trains to blend with or "capture" the opponent's energy and harmlessly redirect it.
Effectiveness in this art does not depend on size or strength. Men and women of all ages practice Aikido. When all the elements of an encounter are harmonized, it’s the attack that brings down the attacker.
The rewards of training include stamina, flexibility and improved muscle tone, but above all, training is ultimately an encounter with oneself. The student of Aikido seeks to identify and gain control of the ways in which he or she reacts to opposition, and so learn to remain centered under all conditions.