Aikido is a martial art originating in 20th Century Japan. It was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), who is known to aikidoka (aikido students) as O-Sensei.
Aikido seems to have been translated in various ways into english, one of the most common being “The Way of Harmony”. I’ll give you the translations I am aware of for the components of the word and let you make your own mind up. “Do” can be translated as “The Way”, and “ai” is variously translated as harmony or peace. The “ki” bit is harder – it refers to the power of the mind, but in the oriental context where the mind does not seem to be regarded as so separate from the body.
In Aikido, there is no attack in the normal sense of the word, practice revolves around neutralizing the attacks of others, and moreover, attempting to do so in such a way that the attacker will not be seriously injured. It seems to my eyes to be more fluid than Judo (as there is usually a greater distance between the two involved), but less aggressive and intentionally lethal than Karate. Of course, to practice someone has to do some attacking, and partners usually alternate between being Uke (making the attack) and Nage (applying the defensive technique). Weapons training is also a part of some styles of Aikido.
Another distinguishing feature of (at least the traditional styles of) Aikido is that there are no competitions.
Personally I am highly attracted by the ethical stance of Aikido, and its non competitive nature. If you live in Ireland and are interested in finding a nearby club you could check out
Again, there should be some interesting pictures in the gallery.