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All About AIKIDO

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Aikido (i-kee-doh) is a martial art, based on a Japanese system of self-defence. There are two main types of aikido, competitive and non-competitive. In Aikido, the attacking force is met by evasive action, rather than strength, to allow the defender to attack while the attacker is off balance.

There are four types of competitive aikido; Kata, Ninin Dori, Tanto Randori, and Randori Kyoghi.



An open competition where competitors perform a kata (a sequence of moves) within a time limit of two or three minutes. The moves must be aikido techniques. This is a non-combative form of aikido competition, as the moves are performed for display, not fighting.

The kata is assessed at the beginning with avoidance, balance and positioning, the correct performance of the throw or control, and the technique of the finish. Each judge will score up to a maximum of ten points.

Ninin Dori

Three competitors work as a team. Each is the defender (Tori) for 30 seconds while the other two take part as the attackers (Uke), for a total time of one and a half minutes.

The assessment for scoring is made on movement and posture, correctness of technique, variation of attack and defence, speed and stamina, use of competition area, and breakfalls. Each judge will score up to a maximum of ten points.

Tanto Randori

This takes the form of free fighting between two opponents over two rounds of two minutes each. One competitor will start the first round with a rubber knife and will become the defender in the second round.

Competitors take up position in the centre of the mat, four metres apart. Once either the defender or the attacker has scored a point the knife changes hands and roles are reversed. A score made as the time ends does count.

The scoring area for the attacker is the front and rear of the defender from the belt up to the shoulder line. A scoring attack must start from the hip line and be a thrusting movement made after both feet have moved forward. It must be made from a proper distance and the attackers striking arm must be fully extended with the knife being horizontal at the point of contact. If the defender falls the attacker may score if they strike immediately and correctly. An attack is not scored if it is deflected.

The defender can score with any correct aikido technique. One point is scored when the defender performs a correct technique. A half-point is scored when the defender scores a successful sacrifice technique or breaks the opponents balance and has control with an aikido lock but the attacker is not put on the ground. One point is also awarded if the attacker drops the knife due to a correct defence technique, or if the attacker is thrown out of the area and the defender has been in the area throughout.

If either competitor scores two points, the contest ends and that person is the winner. If the contest lasts the full amount of time, the competitor with the most points wins. If the scores are level after the full time, the person with the most points wins. If the scores are level, one extension period takes place. If the scores are still level, the judges make a decision based on skill and technique.

Fouls in tanto randori

Fouls are punished by warning, a half-point deduction, or a disqualification.

Randori Kyoghi

This is free fighting between two unarmed contestants. The competition lasts for three minutes and ends when one competitor has scored two points.

All scoring and fouls are as for tanto randori. See above.


The area for aikido is at least 9 metres squared (29 feet). One competitor wears a red belt and the other wears white. Judges have red and white flags to signify who has won a point, or if there is a draw, both flags.

For kata and ninin dori, there is a minimum of three judges outside the area. For tanto randori and randori kyoghi, there's one referee in the area, and two judges outside. There may also be a recorder and a timekeeper.


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