At the Heart of Aikido: From Biomechanics to Diversity in Application

Author: Erin Ford
Major: Biochemistry
Approved: Spring 2016
Status: Completed

Aikido (literally “the way of harmony”) adheres to a unique set of principles which emphasizes the skillful execution of defensive maneuvers rather than reliance upon overtly offensive tactics and physical strength. My project will be comprised of two interrelated parts. The first will center upon the anatomical dissection of Aikido using principles of functional anatomy to both quantitatively and descriptively analyze a number of its teachings. This will involve goniometric measurements to examine range of motion as well as a comprehensive plotting of bone, muscle, and nerve structure to accurately assess the relationship between human anatomy and Aikido’s effectiveness. The second will investigate how, despite an undeniable scientific foundation, there exists such variation among individuals in the way one creates modifications to suit his or her own circumstances and abilities. In doing so I should gather substantial insight into which variables define the techniques and what is left to stylistic or conditional preference. I hope to gain the perspective of several professionals within this practice about what they believe lies at the heart of Aikido and why its applications are as diverse as the people who influence them.