About Aikido

“Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family.”   Ueshiba Morihei

Aikido is a non-violent and non-competitive Japanese martial art, which emphasizes neutralizing and controlling the force of an attack. Aikido means “the way of harmony with life energy” (ki). Aikido was developed by Morehei Ueshiba, commonly called O’Sensei (great teacher). O’Sensei was a Japanese soldier, farmer, philosopher and one of the greatest martial arts masters in history. He studied and became master of jujutsu, judo, swordsmanship, spear, bayonet, and military combat techniques prior to developing Aikido.

Aikido differs in training and purpose from other martial arts. The training is a physical process with a spiritual result. O’Sensei realized that simply accumulating strength and technique for fighting is ultimately futile. He saw the true purpose of the martial way of life to be the refinement of the individual. O’Sensei created Aikido as a martial way for students to develop a strong body and a calm mind. The natural reaction becomes defense rather than offense, protection rather than destruction.

Aikido practice is strenuous, but not violent; demanding but not rough. It is manifested through smooth spiral movements with no sense of conflict between partners, with no winners or losers. There is no competition in Aikido, no matches, no sparring.

 

 


 

About Aikido

“Aikido is not a way to fight with or defeat enemies; it is a way to reconcile the world and make all human beings one family.”                     –Ueshiba Morihei

Aikido is a non-violent and non-competitive Japanese martial art, which emphasizes neutralizing and controlling the force of an attack. Aikido means “the way of harmony with life energy” (ki). Aikido was developed by Morehei Ueshiba, commonly called O’Sensei (great teacher). O’Sensei was a Japanese soldier, farmer, philosopher and one of the greatest martial arts masters in history. He studied and became master of jujutsu, judo, swordsmanship, spear, bayonet, and military combat techniques prior to developing Aikido.

Aikido differs in training and purpose from other martial arts. The training is a physical process with a spiritual result. O’Sensei realized that simply accumulating strength and technique for fighting is ultimately futile. He saw the true purpose of the martial way of life to be the refinement of the individual. O’Sensei created Aikido as a martial way for students to develop a strong body and a calm mind. The natural reaction becomes defense rather than offense, protection rather than destruction.

Aikido practice is strenuous, but not violent; demanding but not rough. It is manifested through smooth spiral movements with no sense of conflict between partners, with no winners or losers. There is no competition in Aikido, no matches, no sparring.

 

 

The History of Aikido

 

Aikido is a martial art that was developed by Morihei Ueshiba Sensei (O-sensei) in the mid 1900s as a direct result of his life experiences as a student of Jiu Jitsu, soldier in the Russo-Japanese war, and livelihood as a peasant. After many years of studying martial arts and seeking spiritual enlightenment, O-sensei became aware of the true source of Budo, and came to express it through Aikido.

“Morihei Ueshiba intimately recognized and understood the harmony and power of the creative process from which all things evolve. His art was the sword. His creative way was Budo. His understanding and enlightenment is creatively expressed by the protection of all life through a powerful and graphic application of universal truth. Aikido is creation, not destruction. It is a positive energy, which creates harmony and justice out of violence.”               -ASU Student Handbook

Aikido is derived from several styles of jujitsu namely Daito ryu aiki-jujutsu as well as sword and spear arts. The early form of training under Ueshiba was characterized by the ample use of strikes to vital points (atemi), a larger total curriculum, a greater use of weapons, and a more linear approach to technique than would be found in later forms of aikido.

As Ueshiba grew older, more skilled, and more spiritual in his outlook, his art also changed and became softer and more circular. Striking techniques became less important and the formal curriculum became simpler. In his own expression of the art there was a greater emphasis on what is referred to as koky-nage, or “breath throws” which are soft and blending, utilizing the opponent’s movement in order to throw them. Many of these techniques are rooted in the aiki-no-jutsu portions of the Dait-ry curriculum rather than the more direct jujutsu style joint-locking techniques.

Deeply spiritual, Ueshiba was a follower of the Omoto kyo religion; it is from this Aikido receives much of its philosophical components. Aikido is a form of Budo, (life long martial practice). According to O’Sensei, budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature.






 

Aikido was founded Morihei Ueshiba, who was born on the 14th December 1883 in Tanabe, a small town near Osaka. He was the fourth child (and only son) born to Yoroku Ueshiba and his wife Yuki.

Morihei was raised in a somewhat privileged setting. His father was a rich landowner who also traded in lumber and fishing and was politically active. Ueshiba was a rather weak, sickly child and bookish in his inclinations. At a young age his father encouraged him to take up sumo wrestling, swimming, and entertained him with stories of his great-grandfather Kichiemon who was considered a very strong samurai in his era. The need for such strength was further emphasized when the young Ueshiba witnessed his father being attacked by followers of a competing politician.  He first started learning JuJutsu at the age of 13. By 20 he was an expert in the use of the spear and sword.

In 1903, Ueshiba was called up for military service. After serving on the front lines during the Russo-Japanese War, he was promoted to sergeant. He was discharged in 1907, and returned to his father’s farm in Tanabe to work as a farmer and to continue his jujutsu training.

In 1912, Ueshiba and his wife left Tanabe and moved to Japan’s northernmost island, Hokkaid. At the time, Hokkaid was still largely an unsettled area in Japan. Ueshiba was the leader of the Kish Settlement Group, a collective of eighty-five pioneers who intended to settle in the Shirataki district and live as farmers. Poor soil conditions and bad weather led to crop failures during the first three years of the project, but the group still managed to cultivate mint and farm livestock. The timber industry provided a boost to the settlement’s economy, but a fire in 1917 destroyed the entire village, leading to the departure of around twenty families. Ueshiba, elected to the village council that year, led the reconstruction efforts.

In 1915, the young Ueshiba met Sokaku Takeda.   After thirty days with Takeda, Ueshiba requested formal instruction and began studying Takeda’s Dait-ry aiki-jutsu in earnest, going so far as to construct a dojo at his home and inviting his new teacher to be a permanent house guest.Takeda’s records show that Ueshiba spent a great deal of time training in Dait-ry between 1915 and 1937. Ueshiba is known to have studied several martial arts during his early life as well. Ueshiba received his teaching license for the system from Takeda in 1922, when Takeda visited him in Ayabe. He also received a sword transmission scroll from Takeda in 1922 in Ayabe. Ueshiba then became a representative of Dait-ry, toured with Takeda as a teaching assistant and taught the system to others under the Dait-ry name.

At the age of 35, with the news that his father was very sick, he travelled across Japan to see him. Unfortunately, his father passed on before Ueshiba arrived. However, on the way he met a man he had heard a great deal of - The Reverend Onisaburo Deguchi. Deguchi was the founder of a Shinto religious sect called Omoto Kyo. Deguchi greatly influenced Ueshiba over the next 6 years, especially during a period when Ueshiba lived in solitude. Ueshiba opened his first dojo at the age of 38.

It was at this time when Deguchi came up with an outrageous plan to unify the moral and religious meaning of the world. In 1924 he revealed a highly secret plan to Ueshiba: To go to Mongolia where the Chinese and Japanese armies were engaged in war, in order to set up a “Kingdom of Peace” by means of a peace treaty. Ueshiba accompanied him.

Deguchi managed to gain the support of the Chinese who provided him with soldiers. He formed an army and roamed the Mongol plains handing out food and healing the sick. Up to that point the Chinese supported Deguchi but soon became threatened by their success. They arrested him and Ueshiba but later released them after intervention of the Japanese government.

After returning to Ayabe, Ueshiba began a regimen of spiritual training, regularly retreating by himself to the mountains or performing misogi (purification) in the Nachi Falls. After his spiritual enlightenment in 1925, his prowess as a martial artist increased, and his fame began to spread. He faced and defeated numerous challengers, some of whom subsequently became his students.

Ueshiba moved to Tokyo in 1926, where he set up the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. In the aftermath of the Second World War the dojo was closed, but in 1938 Ueshiba built a dojo at Iwama where he continued training and developed his style, Aikibudo which later changed its name to Aikido (after the death of Takeda). During all this time he traveled extensively in Japan, particularly in the Kansai region teaching his aikido.

Despite the prohibition on the teaching of martial arts after World War II, Ueshiba and his students continued to practice in secret at the Iwama dojo; the Hombu dojo in Tokyo was in any case being used as a refugee centre. The prohibition (on aikido, at least) was lifted in 1948 with the creation of the Aiki Foundation, established by the Japanese Ministry of Education with permission from the Occupation forces. The Hombu dojo re-opened the following year. After the war, however, Ueshiba delegated most of the work of running the Hombu dojo and the Aiki Federation to his son Kisshomaru, choosing to spend much of his time in prayer, meditation, calligraphy and farming. From the end of the war until the 1960s, he still traveled extensively to promote aikido throughout Japan and abroad even visiting Hawaii in 1961.  He also appeared in a television documentary on aikido: The Master of Aikido, broadcast in January 1960.

On the 26th April 1969 Ueshiba died at the age of 86.

 

 

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