The first thing you will be taught when you start practicing Aikido is the “hanmi” stance. Hanmi literally means “half-body”. From a practical standpoint this means that only half of ones body is presented to an adversary. The importance of the hanmi stance cannot be overemphasised. In fact, the founder of Aikido adopted hanmi as a founding principle around which his entire art is organised!
It can often be heard in dojos that Aikido begins and ends with Hanmi, an important aspect of daily practice! Saito Sensei mentions that Aikido is the only martial art that is built upon this Hanmi position, and that when one maintains Hanmi there are no mistakes. In partner practice with the ken (sword) for example, it is possible to avoid an ai-uchi, or mutual kill situation, when one maintains hanmi.
The below two photographs (c.1938) are of Aikido Founder in the hanmi position. (Please also take note of the difference in “ma-ai”, or combative distance, between the photographs.)