There are no competitions in Aikido. Instead, a student's development is marked by their interaction with others and their ability to blend with an attack or deliver one, take a fall safely, and redirect an aggressor's energy. After the teacher has demonstrated a technique, students practice in pairs, alternating turns as attacker and defender. Aikido techniques depend primarily on circular movements to harmonize with an aggressor's force. Additional training with a wooden sword (a bokken) and a staff (a jyo) complements the body art and allows for improved stance, timing and distance in martial encounters.

Training in Aikido improves flexibility, muscle tone, endurance and the stimulation and direction of Ki (universal energy). Moreover, through disciplined and focused study, Aikido students learn to become more centered in their lives, allowing a sense of calm to penetrate their actions and thoughts.

"The purpose of training is to tighten up the slack, toughen the body and polish the spirit."

— O-Sensei, Morihei Ueshiba