Aikido is a form of Japanese martial art that was developed by Morihei Ueshiba during the late 1920s and through the 1930s. Ueshiba developed aikido after a combination of his previous martial arts studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. The creator’s personal philosophy of universal peace and reconciliation heavily influenced the development of aikido as Ueshiba sought to develop a martial art that would allow practitioners to defend themselves without injuring their attackers.
The general form of aikido that Ueshiba developed used the attacker's momentum against them. Students learn to blend their motion with that of their attacker instead of meeting it head on with force. Practitioners employ various throws and joint locks to stop an attacker without injuring them. The art form of aikido requires little physical energy. Ueshiba derived aikido from his earlier studies of Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu. Aikido diverged from this art form due to Ueshiba's religious beliefs. As a follower of Omoto-kyo, Ueshiba believed in trying to attain utopia in one's life and as such believed in extending love and compassion even to those who wish to do you harm. His religious views led directly to aikido being developed as a martial art form that would allow one to receive an attack and redirect it without injury, leaving both the attacker and the defender unharmed.
Ueshiba's aikido was first brought to the outside world in the 1950s, with its introduction coming in France in 1951. Visits to the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, Germany and Australia through the rest of the decade by Ueshiba's students resulted in the spread and increased popularity of the art form. The largest aikido organization in the world remains under the control of the Ueshiba family, with several varying styles having emerged over the years. Former students of Morihei Ueshiba are responsible for the differing styles of aikido in existence today as many of them gained different insight from the aikido master depending on when they studied under him.