Although Aikido’s techniques are derived from centuries old samurai battle tactics, the art in its modern form was created during the first half of the twentieth century by an extraordinary martial artist, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). Ueshiba (referred to by his students as O-Sensei, (“Great Teacher”) was a remarkable individual. As a young man, he studied and became expert at several traditional forms of Japanese martial arts including sword and spear arts as well as empty hand combat (Jiu-Jitsu).
A deeply spiritual man, O-Sensei ruminated over the futility of a path based on violence and domination over others. Leading a life of austerity and rigorous training, he struggled with this dilemma for many years. In a moment of profound awakening, O-Sensei realized that winning at the expense of another was, at best, a temporary victory which ultimately leads to one’s own destruction. The essence of this revelation is contained in his statement, “Masakatsu Agatsu” (True victory is victory over one’s self). Transformed by this spiritual insight, O-Sensei’s technical mastery evolved into a martial art of refinement and astonishing power, fundamentally different from those which preceded it.
“The secret of Aikido,” he wrote, “is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself.” In his later years, O-Sensei maintained that the warrior’s path is a path of love (“AI”), a way to overcome the discord within ourselves and bring peace to the world. He said, “Aikido is not an art to fight with or defeat enemies. It is a Way to bring all people together as one family. The essence of Aikido is to put oneself in tune with the guiding principles of the universe. Those who have grasped the inner meaning of Aikido have the universe within themselves”. Aikido offers us the opportunity to put these high ideals into practice and make them manifest in the physical reality of our day-to-day existence.
After O-Sensei passed away on April 26, 1969, the Japanese government posthumously declared Morihei Ueshiba a Sacred National Treasure of Japan. O-Sensei’s son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, inherited the title Doshu (Leader of the Way). He continued his father’s work at Aikido World Headquarters (Hombu Dojo) until he passed away in 1999. Today, O-Sensei’s grandson, the third Doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba, continues to enlighten the lives of men, women and children from over seventy countries throughout the world.