Aikido er mer enn en kampkunst i tradisjonell forstand. Treningen utfordrer på det personlige plan gjennom å utfordre tilvante oppfatninger som til eksempel at den med størst muskler er den sterkeste eller at man blir svakere ved å slappe av.
Aikidoens rolle er ikke å skape uovervinnelige kampmestere, men å bidra til personlig utvikling for å fremme vekst og forståelse blant mennesker og omgivelsene. Det er snakk om kultivering av mennesket ikke bekjempelse og kamp.
I den grad det er kamp så er det individets kamp mot de destruktive kreftene i seg selv.
Morihei Ueshiba formulerte mot slutten av sitt liv følgende visjon for Aikido:
The martial way (budo) that embodies the feeling of universal compassion is based on the creative energy of the universe (takemusubi). All the others are nothing more than arts of destruction. In the beginning I called it takemusubi aiki; later I decided to call it shobu aiki; the budo that creates wisdom, judgement, the mind of a sage.
The true victory of shobu aiki is to strike down and destroy the mind of doubt and conflict within yourself. It is to realize and carry out the destiny you have received from divine providence. Regardless of how this may be philosophically explained, unless it is actually put into practice, you are no different than anyone else. Through the practice of aikido, this power and ability is added unto you.
The underlying origin of budo is the spirit of universal protection, nurturing, and salvation. It is to give renewed energy to yourself and others. Human beings are the children of the divine universal spirit and if they are unhappy it is because they turn away from their own nature.
Within divine love there is no good or evil, no happiness or unhappiness. There is only constant giving in an attempt to pay back some part of the precious gift of life that one has received and even now continues to enjoy.
You should never be trapped by the idea that you have problems, that you are a person of deep karma, or that you are one of little value. This is insulting not only to yourself, but to others as well. All people share the same divine origin.
There is only one thing that is wrong or useless. That is the stubborn insistence that you are an individual, separate from others. Give thanks and show gratitude. Work for the paradise on this earth. In this way your true nature will continually unfold.
(fra ‘The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido’, W.Gleason 1995)