What Is Aikido?

Aikido is a non-competitive martial art developed in the early 20th century by a Japanese martial arts expert, Morihei Ueshiba (often referred to as O Sensei or ‘Great Teacher’). It is based on a series of throws and immobilization techniques, using the attacker’s strength, momentum, and aggression against them. As Aikido relies on skill and not strength, it can be practiced by people of all ages and physical abilities.


Morihei Ueshiba
Morihei Ueshiba is the founder of Aikido, recognized in Japan as the greatest teacher of his time.It is also known as O-Sensei, which means “Grand Master”. Another way to call it is “Kaiso”, which means founder. Morihei means “abundant peace”.
He was born on December 14, 1883, in Tanabe, Wakayama, Japan. The only male, he had 4 sisters. His parents were called Yoroku and Yuki Ueshiba. He was born physically weak, so his dad convinced him to strengthen his body by studying sumo and swimming. He was talking about his samurai grandfather Kichiemon. He recognized the importance of getting even stronger when they beat his father Yoroku for political reasons.  He studied many martial arts with many teachers, looking for the real budo. He searched a lot without finding it, until learning a form of aiki-jujutsu called Daito-ryu with Sokaku Takeda, opened his eyes to the real budo. He started studying with Takeda Sensei in 1912. He began to teach with permission from Takeda Sensei, and over time his style grew more circular and harmonious. He implemented many personal changes to the style during his life. It evolved over decades from aiki-jujutsu, to Ueshiba-ryu, to Asahi-ryu, to aiki-budo and finally to aikido.
In 1919 he met Onisaburo Deguchi, spiritual leader of Omoto-kyo. He grew spiritually a lot with the influence of this teacher. Three of his experiences of spiritual awakening are known, which he narrated as follows:
The first occurred in 1925. He had a fight with a naval officer. The officer had a wooden bokken and Ueshiba Sensei was not armed. He could defeat him without being hurt and without hurting the opponent. Later he went to his garden and had a spiritual experience: “Suddenly I felt the universe tremble. I felt a golden energy come out of the ground, that covered my body and changed it to a golden body. At that moment my body became light. I could understand the song of the birds, and I was fully aware of the mind of God, the creator of the universe. At that moment I enlightened myself: the source of the budo is the love of God, the spirit that loves and protects all beings … “. The second experience occurred in 1940: “While practicing misogi at 2 am, I suddenly forgot all the techniques I knew. The techniques I knew became new. Now they were vehicles for cultivating life, knowledge and virtue. No vehicles to winnow people. “
The third experience occurred in 1942 during the Second World War. He had a vision of the great spirit of peace: “The path of the warrior has been misinterpreted. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and win make a big mistake. Crushing, hurting or destroying is the worst thing a human being can do. The true path of the warrior is to prevent such a massacre – it is the art of peace, the power of love.” In 1927 Ueshiba Sensei moved to Tokyo and founded the famous “Aikikai Hombu Dojo”. In 1942 he left Tokyo and moved to Iwama. There he founded the famous “Iwama Dojo”. That same year is when he began to call his art “aikido”.
In 1969 he died on April 26. Two months later his wife HatsuUeshiba reached him. His son Kisshomaru Ueshiba took his legacy as the second Doshu and went on. Aikido is practiced all over the world, and to this day it continues to expand, boosting human development.