Mr SmithThe UKA was formed in 1985 by Mr. W Smith and other senior teachers, all with at least 25 years experience in teaching Aikido. The newly formed organisation was initially supported by K. Chiba Shihan, who was the founder of Aikido in the UK and was a direct student of Ueshiba Sensei. Chiba Shihan was sent to the UK to build on the work started by Kenshiro Abbe Sensei.

Its formation came from a desire to create an organisation of sincere, dedicated practitioners that integrates and encourages training within everyday life. This philosophy remains within core UKA values today.

The UKA is directly affiliated to the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, the world headquarters of Aikido. Senior teachers from Hombu visit the UKA on a regular basis ensuring teachers of the UKA are kept on top form! All members’ grades are awarded by senior UKA teachers (Shidoin) and are authorised by Hombu dojo ensuring that all ranking is recognised world wide.

The present head of Hombu Dojo is Moriteru Ueshiba – the grandson of the founder – who travels throughout the world teaching seminars. In 1999, the UKA was honoured to receive Moriteru Ueshiba as its guest. The Hombu Dojo monitors the standard of aikido amongst the thousands of practitioners around the world.

Aikikai FoundationSenior teachers from Hombu Dojo regularly visit the UKA to ensure that the highest standards of teaching are maintained within the UKA. All UKA grades are awarded by senior UKA teachers (Shidoin), who are authorised by Hombu Dojo. This authorisation guarantees recognition of all ranking throughout the world.

Morihei Ueshiba

The word “aikido” is formed of three kanji:
? – ai – joining, unifying, combining, harmony
? – ki – spirit, energy, mood, morale
? – do – way, path

Aikido can therefore be translated as “the Way of Harmonic Energy”

Created by Morihei Ueshiba – known throughout the aikido world as ‘O Sensei’ which means ‘great teacher’ – Aikido’s guiding principle is harmonisation.

Aikido develops centered, flexible, dynamic movement (tai sabaki) in its practitioners which when combined with neutralization or projection techniques (waza), creates a powerful, almost effortless system to control aggressors.

Because harmonisation – not confrontation – is at the heart of aikido, it has a simple ethic: if attacked, offer a sincere, robust defence but without hurting your aggressor Although it does take time to become proficient, the training is enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. People of all ages and abilities benefit in a variety of ways from embarking upon the Aikido journey.

AIKIDO is a Japanese art of self-defence whose origins can be traced back to the 12th century. It is based on an attitude of non resistance rather than on the confrontation of strength on strength. An attack is not blocked it is re-directed and controlled in a way that causes the assailant to be thrown by the force of his own attack.

In addition to throws Aikido employs a variety of techniques applied to the attackers joints. When applied these techniques will leave no serious injury only the swift neutralisation of an attack. However, if necessary the techniques can be lethal.

Aikido is perhaps the most subtle and graceful of the martial arts and embraces an immense range of techniques that may be employed against all manner of attack, armed or otherwise. It is unique in that it teaches the practitioner to defend against attack by more than one assailant.

Aikido, when performed correctly, requires no great physical strength and may be practiced by anyone regardless of age or sex. Its effectiveness is due to the fact that it has no set rules making it one of the most practical forms of self defence.

Aikido provides a form of all round physical exercise that could hardly be surpassed promoting suppleness, agility, increased co-ordination and speed of reaction. Aikido is a most effective martial art recommended for those whom the more aggressive and competitive arts have less appeal.

Foundation of Aikido

Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba after extensive training in Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu under the instruction of Takeda Sokaku. He was also known to have studiedTenjin Shin’yo-ryu with Sensei Tozawa Tokusaburo, Yagyu Shingan-ryu under Nakai Masakatsu and Judo with Kiyoichi Takagi. Along with these unarmed throwing and joint locking techniques Ueshiba also incorporated armed combat into the development of Aikido principally introducing the technical structure from the art ofKenjutsuand training techniques derived from the spear (Yari) and short staff (Jo).

The body should be triangular, the mind circular. The triangle represents the generation of energy and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolises serenity and perfection, the source of unlimited techniques. The square stands for solidity, the basis of applied control.

Morihei Ueshiba

The way of the warrior is based on humanity, love and sincerity; the heart of martial valour is true bravery, wisdom, love and friendship. Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.

Morihei Ueshiba

[ult_team img_hover_eft=”” social_icon_effect=”” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”|title:Profile%20Page|” image=”id^241|url^|caption^null|alt^null|title^Gordon Jones|description^null” name=”Gordon Jones Shihan” pos_in_org=”Chairman of the UKA”]Jones Shihan is the 4th person in the UK to achieve the rank of 7th Dan[/ult_team]
[ult_team img_hover_eft=”” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”|title:Profile%20Page|” image=”id^237|url^|caption^null|alt^null|title^Keith Hayward|description^null” name=”Keith Hayward Shihan” pos_in_org=”Chief Technical Officer – Te Shin Kai”]Hayward Shihan is a 6th Dan and is Principle of the Te Shin Kai house, a founding house in the UKA[/ult_team]
[ult_team img_hover_eft=”” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”|title:Profile%20Page|” image=”id^239|url^|caption^null|alt^null|title^Peter Brown|description^null” name=”Peter Brown Sensei” pos_in_org=”Chief Technical Officer – Kyu Shin Kan”]Brown Sensei is a 6th dan and is principle of the Kyu Shin Kan house[/ult_team]
[ult_team img_hover_eft=”” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”|title:Profile%20Page|” image=”id^238|url^|caption^null|alt^null|title^Philip Smith|description^null” name=”Philip Smith Shihan” pos_in_org=”Chief Technical Instructor for Ren Shin Kan”]Smith Shihan is a 6th dan and is the son of UKA founder William Smith Shihan[/ult_team]
[ult_team img_hover_eft=”” link_switch=”on” staff_link=”|title:Profile%20Page|” image=”id^236|url^|caption^null|alt^null|title^Peter Brady|description^null” name=”Peter Brady Shihan” pos_in_org=”Chief Technical Officer – Myo Shin Juku”]Brady Shihan is a 6th dan and principle of the Myo Shin Juku house[/ult_team]

Some useful things to know about a class

  • Beginners are always welcome at Aikido, we all had to start at some point
  • Most Aikido training is with a partner. If you are new to Aikido, your partner will help you through the technique
  • You do not have to be fit to start Aikido, but the instructor should be told if you have any medical condition or disability
  • Correct clothing for Aikido is a white judo or karate suit. We do not expect beginners to have this – come in clothes that allow you to move freely
  • The UKA awards grades, but adults do not show their grades by wearing coloured belts: someone wearing a white belt could be a complete novice, or a few weeks away from being awarded a black belt
  • No jewellery may be worn when practicing
  • Aikido is rooted in Japanese tradition, so some of the things we do can seem strange at first
  • Shoes are never worn on the mat, but are put on as we step off the mat to keep our feet (and the mat) clean. Traditional Japanese homes did not have western-style chairs or beds, so people sat and slept on the floor. It was important to keep the floor clean at all times
  • We follow traditional Japanese etiquette. Don’t worry about it – just copy everyone else until you pick it up
  • For insurance purposes, you need to join the UKA after two classes

Aikido – Whats in it for you?

There are many benefits of practicing Aikido.

  • Stretching akin to yoga exercises
  • Non-competitive training
  • Develops coordination
  • Breathing exercises
  • Traditional martial art with true martial value of self-development
  • Teaching syllabus includes use of bokken (wooden sword) and Jo (staff)
  • Body conditioning, movement and overall fitness
  • Relief from stress and enhancement of well-being
  • Self-defence and martial art prowess
  • Core values: Respect, Discipline, Self-development, Honesty, Perseverance

We have created some sections which highlight some of the basic Japanese terminology used for Aikido training. If it seems like a lot to learn don’t panic! You will pick all of this up naturally as your training progresses.

  • ‘Sensei’

    The Japanese word for teacher is Sensei. On the mat, the instructor is referred to as Sensei The founder of Aikido, Mr Ueshiba, is known as O-Sensei or great teacher.

  • Salutations

    o ne gai shi mas – At the beginning of class we bow to O-Sensei, and say this greeting which means ‘please’ – in this context ‘please practice.

    domo arigato gozaimashita – At the end of class we bow to O-Sensei, then bow to Sensei and say a very polite ‘thank you’ (generally, the longer a phrase is the more polite it is).

  • Introduction to techniques

    An Aikido technique is described by the attack, followed by the name of the technique. Sometimes it is specified whether the technique should be sitting or standing. Most techniques have two forms.

    Omote – (in front, positive, irimi)
    ura – (behind, negative, tenkan)
    Suwariwaza – Sitting techniques
    Tachi waza – Standing techniques
    Hanmi handachi – Sitting technique, standing attack Attacks
    Katatedori – Wrist held by one hand
    Aihanmi – (agreeing posture) right takes right or left takes left
    Gyakuhanmi – right takes left or left takes right
    Katadori – Shoulder holding
    Ryotedori ryotemochi – Both wrists held
    Morotedori – one wrist held by two hands

  • Techniques

    Ikkyo – First technique (circling arm)
    Nikyo – second technique (painful wrist twist)
    Sankyo – Third technique (turning wrist and forearm)
    Yonkyo – Fourth technique (cutting forearm while applying pressure to a nerve)
    Gokyo – Fifth technique (applied to the wrist)
    Rokkyo – Sixth technique (applied to the elbow)
    Iriminage – Entering body throw
    Ko te gae shi – little wrist turn
    Shi ho nage – Four direction throw
    Kai ten nage – Body turn throw Uchi inside (under) Soto outside
    Tenchinage – Heaven and earth throw

  • Aikido Concepts

    Tegatana (hand blade) the edge of the arm from the base of the little finger to the forearm
    Ki – energy
    Tanden – Centre, point below the navel which is the centre of ki
    Kokuho – Breath power
    Atemi – Strike to distract ukei
    Ma ai – Distance, space or being in the right place at the right time
    Zanshin – Finishing, spirit at the end of the technique

  • Posture

    When practising with a partner we bow to each other before and after training together.

    Tori is the person performing the technique
    Ukei the person receiving the technique (usually the attacker)
    Kamae is posture
    Hanmi – half body posture
    Migi – Right
    Hidari – Left

  • Tai Sabaki (body movement)

    Tenkan – Pivot on the front foot
    Tsugi ashi – Following feet (move the front foot forward, draw the rear foot up behind)
    Ukemi (receiving body) – break fall which can be Mae (forwards) Ushiro (backwards) or Yoko (sideways)
    Shikko – Knee walking

  • Strikes

    Shomenuchi – Vertical cut down
    Yokomenuchi – Diagonal cut down
    Tsuki – Punch
    Jo dan – Upper level (punch to face)
    Chu dan – Middle level (punch to the knot on the belt)
    Ge dan – Lower level
    Ushiro – Behind

  • Weapons

    Jo – Stick /staff
    Bokken – Wooden sword
    Tanto – Wooden knife

  • Counting

    Numbers are regular, once you know one to ten you can go all the way to 99. The exception is 4 which can be pronounced either shi (shi ho nage) or yon (yon kyo).

    1 – Ichi 20 – Ni ju
    2 – Ni 21 – Ni ju ichi
    3 – San 22 – Ni ju ni
    4 – Shi or (Yon)
    5 – Go 30 – San ju
    6 – Rokkyu 31 – San ju ichi
    7 – Shichi
    8 – Hachi 40 – Yon ju
    9 – Kyu 41 – Yon ju ichi
    10 – Ju
    11 – Ju ichi 50 – Go ju
    12 – Ju ni 51 – Go ju ichi
  • More Japanese, for those who are interested!

    Japanese is pronounced with short ‘a’s like northern English accents.

    Japanese is written using a mixture of kanji (the Chinese characters), and hiragana and katakana, which are phonetic. There are nearly always at least two ways of pronouncing a Chinese character: the Chinese sound and the word that existed in Japanese before they had access to the written script. The Chinese pronunciation tends to be used in similar contexts to those where we would use words of Latin or Greek origin.

    The Japanese consider ‘g’ to be a hard form of ‘c’; ‘b’ as a hard ‘h’; and ‘d’ as a hard ‘t’. When two words are combined to make a compound word if the second word begins with c, h or d it will appear in the compound word in the hard form. Katana means sword and te means hand, but the compound ‘hand blade’ is tegatana

You've got as far as the website!
why not try a class?

Aikido is suitable for everyone, regardless of age and fitness. The most common points we hear are:

  • I’m not fit enough, I’ll come along when I’ve increased my fitness
  • I’m not coordinated enough
  • Martial arts are for the younger generation!

But fear not! practice is non-competitive, we respect everyone’s level and encourage improvement. For most dojo’s there is also an active social calendar where training can continue over a glass or two of your preferred beverage! And if that’s not enough then there are national and international courses and events to keep your training progressive.

remember, your first lesson is free!

A few common points from beginners


Like any exercise, fitness helps, the fitter you are the more you can practice. But when was the last time you were ‘fit enough’? Aikido is the kind of exercise that will leave you out of breath and with a sweat but not feel like you’ve run a marathon.

Aikido can help your fitness and suppleness. You are never forced to do something that feels uncomfortable or dangerous with Aikido and we all have to sit down at some point during a class. Remember to follow your doctor’s advice though, if you have any doubts over your fitness then consult your doctor before practicing.


That falls down to you, Aikido is an experiential activity that you get better at through repetition. On the flip side, we all have families, jobs and lives to lead. It’s important to get a balance between your practice and other things in your life. Generally clubs will offer training twice a week; the suggestion is to practice what you can, family and job commitments permitting.


It depends how often you practice, practices twice as often to progress a lot quicker!. This question is common but becomes secondary to people who enjoy practice. If you need a number, it’s about 8 years for the average person before they are ready for a dan (black belt) grading.


There are two ongoing costs to Aikido

  • Your class subscription (the cost per class, per week or per month) – This is defined by your local club
  • Annual insurance – £25 for unwaged and £32 for waged people. This cost covers your insurance liability in case you accidentally injure somebody and the cost of UKA membership (which includes gradings).

There are few other costs in Aikido, a gi (suit) and wooden weapons which can be obtained from your club, martial arts shops or on-line at places such as Nine Circles