History

What is Aikido?

Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art practiced for self development and defense. The word Aikido means “the way of harmony with ki.” Ki is hard to translate, but can be understood as breath power, spirit or universal life force.

Morihei Ueshiba, or Osensei (great teacher) created Aikido in the early 1940s. A master of several classical Japanese martial arts (budo) including judo, kendo and jujitsu, Osensei developed Aikido to respond to the modern world.

According to his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido is orthodox because it inherits the spiritual and martial tradition of ancient Japan . But Osensei concluded that the true spirit of budo cannot be found in a competitive atmosphere where brute force dominates and the goal is victory at any cost. Instead, the path of Aikido leads to “victory over self” and is realized in the quest for self perfection of body, mind and spirit.

Read more in the Valley Aikido Member’s Guide. (PDF; 3.12MB)

Paul Sylvain Shihan

Paul Sylvain shihanValley Aikido was founded by Paul Sylvain Shihan in 1985 to advance aikido in the Connecticut River Valley. It is an outgrowth of Amherst Aikikai, which Sylvain Shihan co-founded with Lorraine DiAnne Sensei in 1979 after they returned from several years of intensive practice at Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. Sylvain Shihan is the first American to be granted the title of shihan, or “master teacher” and the only American to receive this honor from O-Sensei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba.

Paul Sylvain ShihanSylvain Shihan started practicing Aikido with Taitetsu Unno at the University of Massachusetts in 1969. He later became a student of M. Kanai Shihan who inspired him to move to Japan. There Sylvain Shihan became a special apprentice to T.K. Chiba Shihan and continued that affiliation until his death in 1996. After his death, Sylvain’s wife and senior students assumed leadership and teaching. Valley Aikido remains dedicated to continuing Sylvain’s traditional approach to Aikido and upholding the standards of excellence that he established over his 25 years of dedicated instruction.

Valley Aikido remains dedicated to continuing the traditional approach to Aikido and upholding the standards of excellence set by Sylvain Shihan. Valley Aikido believes aikido has the power to unify communities and builld bridges between cultures. To this end, we aim to connect deeply and continually with the greater world of Aikido technique, teaching and community.

It is through your own devoted practice
that the mysteries of the Art of Peace are brought to life.
—Osensei