Aikido is a form of Japanese martial art and an Aikido uniformindicates the grade or degree of the participant. Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba during the 1920s and 1930s. Aikido means “the Way of unifying with life energy” and was developed based on Morihei Ueshiba’s martial arts studies, philosophies, and religious beliefs. His initial goal with Aikido was to provide self defense without injuring the attacker. So instead of opposing the attacker head-on, Aikido redirects the force of the attack. This self defense approach requires less physical strength than other martial arts and self defense methods.
A variant of Aikido is called Aikido Yoshinkan which means “Aikido Cultivating the Spirit School.” It was developed by Gozo Shioda, a student of Morihei Ueshiba, after World War II. Yoshinkan Aikido was developed by Shioda because he thought there should be greater emphasis on consistency in the training of students.
Practitioners of Aikido advance by promotion through a sequence of grades, or kyu, followed by a series of degrees, or dan. A different colored belt is typically used by Aikido organizations to indicate the practitioners’ grades. Some organizations use a black belt to represent an advanced level and a white belt to indicate a beginner and intermediate skill level. Other organizations use various colors of belts to indicate skill levels. The Aikido uniform, or Aikido gi, is similar to the uniforms used in other martial arts – white pants and a white wrap around jacket with the colored belt. Aikido tops typically have shorter sleeves than the tops of other martial arts. The Aikido uniform may also include a pair of wide pleated indigo or black pants called Aikido hakama. Often, a hakama is reserved for use by instructors with dan rank. An Aikido uniform can be purchased from a martial arts supplies store or website.