Aikido is a Japanese martial way that follows principles of non-conflict and harmony which can be applied to daily life as well as self-defense. The word Aikido (合気道) is made of three characters. Ai (合) translates to harmonize or unite. Ki (気) translates to spirit or energy. Do (道) translates to road or path. Together, Aikido roughly translates to the "Way of Harmonious Energy" and is an expression of universal peace and reconciliation.
Techniques used in Aikido include throws, joint locks, immobilizations, strikes, unarmed defense against weapons, defending against multiple attackers, as well as weapon training with a sword (bokken) and staff (jo). The dynamics of Aikido allows for an appropriate response to a critical incident, from a soft/gentle response to a hard/severe response, and the wisdom to choose properly.
Aikido emphasizes blending with the energy of an attack and redirecting that energy to an appropriate resolution. Aikido teaches us to avoid conflict instead of crashing into it. We practice exploiting the weak points of an attack and moving around the strength of an attack. Every person has a limited area of strength and Aikido teaches us to stay in our area of strength and draw the attacker out of his area of strength. Therefore, a physically strong person can be felled by physically weaker person.
More than just a self-defense, benefits of Aikido training include continuous improvements in discipline, awareness, physical health and personal character.