Sports are fun and interesting to watch. Tournaments are even more fun. Whenever an international tournament is taking place, the sport in question gets more views and becomes more popular, at least for the duration of the tournament.
Martial arts are not like sports, at least not in the traditional way of thinking about sports. However, martial arts, like sports, have their own tournaments and competitions, often divided into categories, depending on the level of the practitioner and their weight.
Aikido is a martial art which is relatively modern compared to some other martial arts which date back millenia. With that in mind, the Aikido World Championships, an international tournament in Aikido, is also pretty recent.
Let us explore the world of Aikido and the World Championships, to learn more about the martial art and its most popular tournament.
Aikido – A Peaceful Way of Defending Oneself
Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba, a Japanese martial artist. He studied multiple martial arts during his lifetime, but specifically during the Russo-Japanese war. He founded aikido over a period of 20 years, in the 1920s and 1930s.
Aikido is infused with his own personal philosophy, which is closely related to a neo-Shinto movement. The religion/philosophy focuses on attaining utopia during one’s lifetime. It also tells us to be more empathetic to our fellow humans and extend love, rather than hate or destruction.
Through this, Aikido was designed to be harmful to neither the attacker nor the defender, using techniques which will redirect an opponent’s attack, or immobilize them, should the fight go on.
Aikido spread to the western world in 1951, through the travels and influence of martial arts master, Minoru Mochizuki.
The first country to see aikido was France. It spread to the rest of the world from that point.
Shodokan Aikido – A New Aikido Style
Aikido has a few styles, though nowadays, the most popular one is Shodokan aikido or Tomiki aikido, named after its founder, Kenji Tomiki. Kenji Tomiki was a martial artist and professor at multiple universities in Japan. Shodokan aikido was founded in 1967, as a different style of aikido, namely in the randori training.
Shodokan is known under different names, such as Tomiki aikido and sport aikido. The sport part is what clashed with the general practices of aikido, which were that it should be used for defence and for philosophical purposes, rather than a tournament. Not long after, the Aikido World Championships was created.
Aikido World Championships
Like most tournaments in sports, the AWC is a biannual event. The tournament is divided into categories, team events, Embu or kata, and Randori. There are categories depending on the Kyu and Dan grades. All aikido styles are welcome at the AWC but mainly Shodokan students and masters compete.
The tournament was founded in 1989. Being biannual, it has been held every two years, since, the latest edition being the 2019 one.
There are no signs that there will be a 2021 edition, which is understandable, given the pandemic situation.
The Aikido World Championships is a biannual aikido tournament, with its primary contestants being Shodokan practitioners. Embu and Randori are contested, as well as team events, based on Kyu and Dan grades.
When the next AWC takes place, make sure to give it a watch, you will see amazing defensive techniques.