The Founder of Aikido

osenseiAikido was founded early in the 20th century by Morihei Ueshiba, or as he is know within Aikido: O’Sensei, (an honorific term for a great teacher.) Ueshiba’s previous martial arts training started from the traditional study of Kenjutsu and Kendo, and in the military during the 1900’s, during which he studied with the Masakatsu Nakai Dojo learning Yagyu-ryu Jujitsu. His devotion further lead him to study Kodokan Judo with Kiyoichi Takagi and later on Daito-ryu Jujitsu, with the legendary Sokaku Takeda.

O-Sensei was influenced greatly by his relationship with Onisaburo Deguchi and the Omoto-ryu religion. It was while he was with Deguchi, he developed the belief that there was a kinship between Budo and agriculture. Perhaps this explains the oneness that Ueshiba felt with nature and the practice of martial arts.

The first signs of Aikido showed when Ueshiba became so absorbed in the study of Kotodama and it’s deep and complex meaning of the soul and the universe. He departed from his familar Yagyu-ryu and Daito-ryu Jujitsu background styles, and he proceeded to try to converge the mind, body, and the spirit into a martial art of his own. By breaking down the walls that often split the three entities apart, Ueshiba was laying down the familiar triangular framework of Aikido. This early style of Aikido was first named Aiki-bujitsu.

Later, Ueshiba handily defeated a master of Kendo, attributing his victory to being able to feel the direction of the kendoist’s sword movements. This experience of awareness of the self and the universe so moved him that he decided a more appropriate name would be Aiki-budo, rather than Aiki-bujitsu.

As time went on, Ueshiba intensively devoted himself to his martial art taking on the practice of the spear and particularly Kendo. He so absorbed weaponry that it became almost an appendage to his body. His mastery in sword and staff is legendary.

Ueshiba’s reputation grew and with this came requests from Admirals, royalty, and military for his knowledge and skills. He taught many high military officials of the Japanese army and navy. His skills were so famous that they extended to Manchuria!

It was later during the 1940’s, Aiki-budo was given the name of Aikido, and by this time Ueshiba had developed Aikido into a martial art unifying the mind, body, and spirit. He taught that it was every martial artist’s personal responsibility to preserve life and peace in the universe, rather than to fight.

Memoir of the Master

As ai (harmony) is common with ai (love), I decided to name my unique budo Aikido, although the word “aiki” is an old one. The word which was used by the warriors in the past is fundamentally different from that of mine.

Aiki is not a technique to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile to world and make human beings one family.

The secret of Aikido is to harmonize ourselves with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself. He who has gained the secret of Aikido has the universe in himself and can say, “I am the universe.” I am never defeated, however fast the enemy may attack. It is not because my technique is faster than that of the enemy. It is not a question of speed. The fight is finished before it is begun.

When an enemy tries to fight with me, the universe itself, he has to break the harmony of the universe. Hence at the moment he has the mind to fight with me, he is already defeated. There exists no measure of time — fast or slow.

Aikido is non-resistance. As it is non-resistant, it is always victorious.

Those who have a warped mind, a mind of discord, have been defeated from the beginning.

Then, how can you straighten your warped mind, purify your heart, and be harmonized with the activities of all things in Nature? You should first make God’s heart yours. It is a Great love, Omnipresent in all quarters and in all times of the universe.

There is no discord in love. There is no enemy of love. A mind of discord, thinking of the existence of an enemy is no more consistent with the will of God.

Those who do not agree with this cannot be in harmony with the universe. Their budo is that of destruction. It is not constructive budo.

Therefore to compete in techniques, winning and losing, is not true budo. True budo knows no defeat. “Never defeated” means “never fighting.”

Winning means winning over the mind of discord in yourself. It is to accomplish your bestowed mission.

This is not mere theory. You practice it. Then you will accept the great power of oneness with Nature.

Don’t look at the opponent’s eyes, or your mind will be drawn into his eyes. Don’t look at his sword, or you will be slain with his sword. Don’t look at him, or your spirit will be distracted. True budo is the cultivation of attraction with which to draw the whole opponent to you. All I have to do is keep standing this way.

Even standing with my back toward the opponent is enough. When he attacks, hitting, he will injure himself with his own intention to hit. I am one with the universe and I am nothing else. When I stand, he will be drawn to me. There is no time and space before Ueshiba of Aikido — only the universe as it is.

There is no enemy for Ueshiba of Aikido. You are mistaken if you think that budo means to have opponents and enemies and to be strong and fell them. There are neither opponents nor enemies for true budo. True budo is to be one with the universe; that is to be united with the Center of the universe.

A mind to serve for the peace of all human beings in the world is needed in Aikido, and not the mind of one who wishes to be strong or who practices only to fell an opponent.

When anybody asks is my Aiki budo principles are taken from religion, I say “No.” My true budo principles enlighten religions and lead them to completion.

I am calm however and whenever I am attacked. I have no attachment to life or death. I leave everything as it is to God. Be apart from attachment to life and death and have a mind which leaves everything to Him, not only when you are being attacked but also in your daily lives.

True budo is a work of love. It is a work of giving life to all beings, and not killing or struggling with each other. Love is the guardian deity of everything. nothing can exist without it. Aikido is the realization of love.

I do not make a companion of men. Whom, then, do I make a companion of? God. This world is not going well because people make companions of each other, saying and doing foolish things. Good and evil beings are all one united family in the world. Aikido leaves out any attachment. Aikido does not call relative affairs good or evil. Aikido keeps all beings in constant growth and development and serves for the completion of the universe.

In Aikido we control the opponent’s mind before we face him. That is how we draw him into ourselves. We go forward in life with this attraction of our spirit, and attempt to command a whole view of the world. We ceaselessly pray that fights do not occur. For this reason we strictly prohibit matches in Aikido. Aikido’s spirit is that of loving attack and that of peaceful reconciliation. In this aim we bring and unite the opponents with the will power of love. By love we are able to purify others.

Understand Aikido first as budo and then as the way of service to construct the World Family. Aikido is not for a single country or anyone in particular. Its only purpose is to perform the work of God.

True budo is the loving protection of all beings with a spirit of reconciliation. Reconciliation means to allow the completion of everyone’s mission.

The “Way” means to be one with the Will of God and practice it. If we are even slightly apart from it, it is no longer the Way.

We can say that Aikido is a way to sweep away devils with the sincerity of our breath instead of a sword. That is to say, to turn the devil-minded world into the World of Spirit. This is the mission of Aikido.

The devil-mind will go down in defeat and the Spirit rise up in victory. Then Aikido will bear fruit in this world.

Without budo a nation goes to ruin, because budo is the life of loving protection and is the source of the activities of science.

Those who seek to study Aikido should open their minds, listen to the sincerity of God through Aikido, and practice it. You should understand the great ablution of Aiki, practice it and improve without hinderance. Willingly begin the cultivation of your spirit.

I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind. This is Aikido. This is the mission of Aikido and should be your mission.