Frequently Asked Questions:

When a person first begins the practice and study of Aikido, they generally have tons of questions. This newsletter is an initial exposure to history, philosophy and people, places and things. This is not intended to answer all questions or to be the ultimate authority on any topic. It is however intended to stimulate further investigation on the many topics that will eventually arise in the course of study.


The term means;

Ai = harmony or unification,

Ki = spirit,

Do or Michi = way or path

The term Aikidō  implies the scope of this martial art. Unlike other martial arts the modern goal of Aikido is ultimately directed to individual evolution, growth, and spiritual attainment. This term however, has been around in the Japanese language for a long time and not always was it strictly intended to connote these goals. There is much commentary on this topic. The following will provide an Aikido lineage.  


The martial arts in Japan are collectively termed Budo, or the way of warrior arts. (There are more implications to this than is stated here, but bear with this for the moment.) Aikido evolved from traditional Japanese martial arts, and a number of esoteric spiritual practices. But, more than anything Aikido is the creative product of its founder Morihei Uyeshiba.

It is impossible to discuss Aikido without describing Morihei Uyeshiba’s life. He was considered one of Japan’s premier martial artists from the 1920’s to his death April 26, 1969.  He was elevated to the status of national treasure due to his singular skill, exemplary life and the philosophy attendant to Aikido.  During his life, Morihei Uyeshiba codified many different martial arts into the current form of Aikido. The following is a short biography / history to give the reader initial impressions of the times and the people involved during the development of the martial art of Aikido.

Morihei Uyeshiba was born in a Japan emerging from centuries of isolation. Sickly as a child, he trained in the martial arts, worked hard and became strong.  The young Uyeshiba was full of the nationalistic pride characteristic of the times. Initially when he applied for military service, he was rejected because he stood below the minimum of five-foot two. Undaunted, he hung by his hands for hours until he finally met the height requirement.

In the army, he distinguished himself and received rapid promotion. He served during the Russo-Japanese war. This was a particularly nasty conflict where the beginnings of mechanized warfare were mixed with brutal hand-to-hand combat indicative of prior periods. The mere fact that the Japanese defeated the Russians was a testimony to the resolve generating the national fervor of the times. However, despite his obvious acumen for the military life the realities of war left a lasting unsavory impression. He lived, but his zeal to remain in the military ebbed. He resigned his commission and returned home.

For those who have little knowledge of the history of the period, Japanese politics and the ethos of its people, it should be understood that this was a time of uncertainty and rapid change. Japan was emerging as a power internationally after hundreds of years of isolation under the Tokugawa Shogunate. Many new ideas were filtering into Japan.  Although Uyeshiba had conservative national leanings, he also had very strong aspirations, spiritual beliefs and a social consciousness. Budo was a term applied the pursuit of the Martial Arts. This was an important aspect of Japanese culture.  While Budo extolled loyalty and service, it also promoted values of honor and clear thinking. Uyeshiba saw a schism between the reality of war and his spiritual beliefs.  While he continued to pursue the Martial Arts with an uncanny zeal, he also dedicated himself to meditation, his family, community service and austere Shinto practices.  Eventually his quests for answers lead him to participating in a growing pacifist, and universalistic religion, Ômotokyô and certain revelations came to him. Uyeshiba’s personal transformation would eventually influence others and change the Martial Arts of Japan forever.

The martial art today called Aikido was derived from Yagu and Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu. These systems were not for general consumption, and often shrouded in secrecy. To become Uyeshiba’s student, aspirants needed references, have high social standing and exhibit ability. Uyeshiba taught Japan’s best and brightest. He became known as  “O Sensei” which means “great teacher.” His technical ability was literally miraculous. He was often challenged, but never defeated. He did not need to destroy or maim his opponents in order to win. He evolved into a Japanese sage, tireless, benevolent and resolute.  GO TO NEXT COLUMN

Through the 1930’s and as WWII began in the Pacific and China, Uyeshiba continued to teach military personnel.  However, as the war expanded, he complained bitterly:

 "There are getting to be more and more people in the military who are reckless and indiscriminate with their power. They have forgotten the importance of helping people, of relieving suffering. A bunch of fools, they strut about displaying their violence, their narrow-mindedness, and wanton destruction of life. What idiots to go against nature, against the will of Kami!" NOTE

Morihei Uyeshiba

Founder of Aikido

Born: December 14, 1883

Died April 26, 1969

Uyeshiba had many mystical insights. In 1942 he experienced a divine command to stop teaching military personnel. At the height of the war such actions were considered treasonous.  With great courage and personal sacrifice, he did as instructed. He retired from public life and moved to the countryside where he farmed, continued his own austere practices and taught a select few through the remainder of the war. It was during this period he honed Aikido into what it is today.

As Uyeshiba had predicted years before, Japan lost the war and many leaders and men at arms came to a bitter end. The war resulted in the loss of multiple millions of lives lost in the pacific alone. In addition, civilian suffered and died in extraordinary numbers.  The final stroke was the use of the first atomic weapons to coerce the Japanese government to surrender.  All these events affected Uyeshiba and further molded his intentions regarding Budo.

Understandably, after the war the martial arts were forbidden by Allied decree. This ban was revoked in 1948. The re-emergence of Japan’s cultural heritage was celebrated by a national martial arts demonstration. At this event, Morihei Uyeshiba reentered public life and gave his Aikido to the entire world.  Aikido came out of hiding. It was the first time that the “miraculous” techniques of Aikido were seen by ordinary people of Japan and by westerners.

From then on, he taught thousands, literally to the day of his death.  Individuals from all races, nationalities, and religions experienced this special teaching. His goal was to nurture and protect all life. He said:

“Budo is not felling the opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world into destruction by arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature.”

Aikido is a method to forge men and women into warriors who seek peace. Morihei Uyeshiba’s life was one of many sacrifices and hardships. Occasionally

there was life-threatening danger for himself and those close to him. He was a man small in stature, but he was a spiritual giant. He created Aikido so others would not need to experience many of the extremes that constituted his life and still encounter the epiphanies that lead to truth and right action. He knew that if people come to truth themselves, they couldn’t resist the will of God to serve man and preserve nature. It is a profound statement of faith that the will of God persists in mankind as intrinsically as it is manifested in the immanent laws of the Universe. While Morihei Uyeshiba would probably not have claimed Aikido as his art due to his often stated declaration that it was divinely inspired, it is nevertheless his a legacy to all mankind. He was the messenger as others have been before him.


Aikido Affiliates International:

AAI is a multinational educational organization to teach Aikido worldwide. In particular, it does outreach to the post Soviet Union and to disadvantaged youth.  All instructors are certified through headquarters. Instruction is geared to technical and philosophical implications of Aikido training. Students are promoted through completion of course prerequisites, time requirements and examination.  AAI is an ecumenical organization embracing all Aikido styles and groups. Teaching and testing guidelines and paradigms are oriented to technical expertise, biomechanical correctness and philosophical understanding.

AAI is an educational organization providing research, curricula assistance and accreditation to promote the institutionalization of Aikido as a distinct area of philosophical inquiry, a tool for physiological reconciliation and an agent for social reform.

Although the AAI is ecumenical and embracing in its approach, it is also eclectic in its dissemination of information and presentation of seminar and curricula material.  Unlike other organizations the AAI requires academic, and original creative projects be completed to attain higher-level promotions, particularly after the first black belt rank. In addition, teaching and internship programs are required for students to graduate to higher rank, teaching positions and greater responsibility on an organizational level.

The idea of structuring an "old boy" club is antithetical to the vision of AAI. In order to achieve the goal of recognition both institutionally and academically, former methods of recognition are subject to renovation. 

The AAI grants rank to all students that qualify within curricula guidelines. Practitioners who have attained rank in kindred systems can petition for testing and rank consideration within the AAI. Time requirements and validation of prior affiliation and ranking is necessary for such promotion. All such appeals for certification must be made in writing with requisite support material to Dr. Ralph N. Singer chairman, AAI.

Other Affiliation:

The AAI is a member of the Martial Arts Federation (MAF). This organization is oriented to service in the community and involves many martial art forms, traditions and philosophies. 

Dr. Ralph N. Singer

With thirty-two years of martial art experience, Dr. Ralph N. Singer is the chairman and head instructor of Aikido Affiliates International. Dr. Singer represents the third generation in direct lineage from the founder, Morihei Uyeshiba.

He was the student of Mitsugi Saotome, Master Instructor, or Shihan for eighteen years. Shihan Saotome was a home disciple of Morihei Uyeshiba for over twenty years and was present at his deathbed.

Dr. Singer teaches Aikido as Philosophy, Science and Art. He is skilled in transmitting nuances of Aikido’s physical, mental and spiritual implications. Morihei Uyeshiba codified a system built on principles, which elicit internal change with external manifestations.  The goal is self-understanding, power, virtue, peace and harmony first in the individual. The personal process is expressed by greater service to humanity. Morihei Uyeshiba created Aikido so that mankind might evolve into a force of nature in harmony with nature.

Dr. Singer describes Aikido as a process of purification, which attunes the intuition to receive spiritual insight. The process cultures strength and confidence, while increasing sensitivity and understanding of others and the world. Aikido is not a sport where the practitioner competes with others for ego gratification, awards and temporary victory. Physical technique is not the final objective, but merely a tool for personal refinement. 

Aikido is spiritual combat with the internal drives, distractions, delusions and illusions that are barriers to growth. Aikido views one victory as paramount that is victory over self.  Aikido is serious fun. Boredom is unlikely. It is a profound, inexhaustible resource that expands experience and gives life to years and years to life.


Frame from video, Seminar conducted in Crimea, post Soviet Union, Ukraine, 1998

Aikido should be considered a language that communicates to the body and intellect. It provides vocabulary by which metaphors are generated to both describe growth and elicit growth. Practitioners learn to think in terms that are oriented to spiritual matters and practical application of the laws of nature. It is a process, which Morihei Uyeshiba put in action. A piece of bread that all practitioners can take and eat. It continues to be a work in progress for every individual practitioner and for the collective body of practitioners throughout the world. Every person that steps on the mat to practice contributes to the final goal.

Dr. Singer is a veteran martial artist training in Tai Chi, through Grand Master Pui Chan; Niese GoJu Karate, through William Wendell Hachidan, technical director of the Niese system; Sakugawa Koshiki Shorinjiryu Karatedo [Dan Rank] though Thomas Cauley, Hachidan, director of the North American branch of the Ogasawara family system; and Kick Boxing and boxing with Alan T. Nader, third generation from Hiso Shimabuku, and a former professional boxer and kick boxer with over thirty years martial art experience. In addition, Dr. Singer lived in a monastic environment at the Himalayan Institute of Yogic Science and Philosophy under the tutelage of Sri Swami Rama, founder of the institute and renown as the Godhied of Shankaracharya, the highest office of the Shankaracharya Sect of Hinduism.

Because of these varied experiences Dr. Singer has in depth understandings of the perils and pitfalls of various growth medias as represented by the Martial arts and other groups. Therefore, the intent of his teaching and orientation of his practice is to avoid potential problems by providing sound fundamentals and appropriate value structures to all students whether they be experienced martial artists coming from different disciplines or novices with no prior Aikido experience.

Dr. Singer is a Chiropractic Physician and Acupuncturist. He has served his profession on the Chiropractic Advisory Committee to the District of Columbia Board of Medicine and on the Regional Medicare Advisory Committee. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a degree in Philosophy.

If you would like additional information on Aikido, where Dr. Singer is currently teaching, Aikido Affiliates International or any of the above topics please contact Dr. Singer at the as indicated above.

Frame from Video, Yalta, Crimea







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