About Aikido

Aikido Basics

Aikido is a comparative new martial art, developed by Morihei Ueshiba, known also as O-Sensei. The name "aikido" is made up of three Japanese characters -- ai, ki, and do. "Ai" can be translated into several different words in English, including unite, combine and connect. "Ki" can be translated as spirit, energy, intention, mind and soul. "Do" is often translated as way, path, road, or journey. One of the most common English translations of Aikido is "the way of harmony."

In terms of its martial application, one of the fundamental concepts in Aikido is to blend with the attack and redirect the energy to either throw or pin the attacker. Ideally, neither the attacker or the person being attacked is hurt. Aikido is a self-defensive, non-competitive martial art.

In terms of its health benefits, Aikido has something to offer people of all ages. The workout can be as aerobic as a person chooses by adjusting the speed, strength and pace of the attack. Aikido also helps improve a person's balance, flexibility and coordination. Plus, Aikido is fun, which is also good for one's health!

In terms of its life application, Aikido can help people deal with conflict at home, at work or in other aspects of everyday life. Aikido can also help a person learn sensitivity to other people, as well help develop self confidence.

About O-Sensei

The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was born on December 14, 1883, to a farming family in an area of the Wakayama Prefecture now known as Tanabe. Ueshiba was rather weak and sickly as a child, but became interested in martial arts after his father was attacked and beaten by a gang of thugs hired by a rival politician. Ueshiba greatly enjoyed his study of Jujutsu at the Kito-ryu dojo and Swordsmanship at the Shinkage Ryu training center.

After regaining his health during the Russo-Japanese War period, he decided to enlist in the army. He became an infantryman in 1903.

After the war, Ueshiba returned home to the farm. Having grown strong during his time in the military, he was now eager to continue physical training. His father built a dojo on his farm and invited the well-known Jujutsu instructor Takaki Kiyoichi to tutor him. During this time, young Ueshiba became stronger and found he possessed great skills.

In the Spring of 1912, at the age of 29, he and his family moved to Hokkaido. It was during this time in Hokkaido that he met Sokaku Takeda, grandmaster of Daito-ryu Aiki Jutsu. After meeting Takeda and find himself no match for his teacher, Ueshiba seemed to forget everything else and threw himself into training. After about a month, he went back to Shirataki, build a dojo and invited Takeda to live there, which he did.

Hearing news of his father's serious illness, Ueshiba sold off most of his property and left the dojo to Takeda. On his way home, he impulsively stopped in Ayabe, headquarters for the new Omoto-kyo religion. Here he met the master of the new religion, Deguchi Onisaburo. After being enthralled with Ayabe and Deguchi, he stayed three additional days and upon returning home, found his father had passed away. Ueshiba took his father's death very hard. He decided to sell off all his ancestral land and move to Ayabe to study Omoto-kyo. For the next eight years, Ueshiba studied with Deguchi Onisaburo, taught Budo, and headed up the local fire brigade.

A pacifist, Deguchi was an advocate of non-violent resistance and universal disarmament. He was noted to have said, "Armament and war are the means by which the landlords and capitalists make their profit, while the poor suffer." It is intriguing that a man of this nature could become so close to a martial artist such as Ueshiba. However, it did not take long for Deguchi to realize that Ueshiba's purpose on earth was " to teach the real meaning of Budo: an end to all fighting and contention."

The study of Omoto-kyo and his association with Onisaburo profoundly affected Ueshiba's life. He once stated that while Sokaku Takeda opened his eyes to the essence of Budo, his enlightenment came from his Omoto-kyo experiences.

In 1927, Deguchi Onisaburo encouraged Ueshiba to separate from Omoto-kyo. Ueshiba moved to Tokyo and opened a dojo, in the Ushigome district of the city (the present site of the Aikido World Headquarters

In 1931, the "Kobukan" was finished. A "Budo Enhancement Society" was founded in 1932 with Ueshiba as Chief Instructor. Up to the outbreak of World War II, Ueshiba was extremely busy teaching at the Kobukan, as well as holding special classes for the major military and police academies.

In 1942, supposedly because of a divine message, Ueshiba return to the farmlands. He had often said that "Budo and farming are one. " In additin, the war had emptied the Kobukan. Leaving the Kobukan in the hands of his son Kisshomaru, he moved to the Ibaraki Prefecture and the village of Iwama. Here he build an outdoor dojo and the now famous Aiki Shrine.

Iwama is considered by many to be the birth place of modern-day Aikido, "the Way of Harmony." Prior to this move, his martial art style had been called Aikijutsu and later on Aiki-Budo. From 1942 (when the name Aikido was first formally used) to 1952, Ueshiba consolidated the techniques and perfected the philosophy of Aikido.

After the war, Aikido grew rapidly at the Kobukan (now called Hombu Dojo) under the direction of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba had become famous as "O Sensei" or "The Grand Teacher," the Master of Aikido. He had also received many decorations from the Japanese government. Right up to the end of his life, O Sensei refined and improved his "Way", never losing his dedication for hard training.

In early Spring 1969, O Sensei fell ill and told his son Kisshomaru that "God is calling me...." He was returned to his home at his request to be near his dojo.

Early on the morning of April 26th, 1969, the 86-year-old O Sensei took his son's hand, smiled and said, "Take care of things" and died. Two months later, Hatsu, his wife of 67 years, followed him. O Sensei's ashes were buried in the family temple in Tanabe. Every year a memorial service is held on April 29th at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama.