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Morihei Ueshiba - O'Sensei

Aikido is a modern, non-violent, non-aggressive Japanese martial art which was developed early in the 19th century by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969). In Japanese, aikido means "the Way of harmony with the force and principle of nature." Aikido is derived from Japan's traditional budo (the Way of martial arts), yet goes beyond the realm of budo; it is a path where the keen edge of martial art is used as a "Way" to spiritual growth.

Morihei Ueshiba, born five years after the Meiji restoration, studied in several of the surviving bujyutsu schools, including swordsmanship in the Shinkage School and jujitsu in the Kito and Daito schools. He joined the Imperial Japanese Army and fought in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905-1906. This early taste of war, coupled with other experiences during the two World Wars, forged Morihei Ueshiba's opposition to the use of martial arts for destructive purposes.


In November 1919, Ueshiba learned that his father Yoroku was ill, and was not expected to survive, left Shirataki with the apparent intention returning to Tanabe to visit his ailing parent. En route, however, he made a detour to Ayabe, near Kyoto, intending to visit Onisaburo Deguchi, the spiritual leader of the Ōmoto-kyō religion in Ayabe. Having met Deguchi, Ueshiba stayed at the Ōmoto-kyō headquarters for several days. On his return to Tanabe, he found that his father had died. Within a few months, he was back in Ayabe, having decided to become a full-time student of Ōmoto-kyō.

In 1920 Deguchi asked Ueshiba to become the group's martial arts instructor, and a dojo the first of several that Ueshiba was to lead, was constructed on the centre's grounds. Ueshiba also taught Takeda's Daitō-ryū in neighbouring Hyōgo Prefecture during this period. In 1942, twenty-two years after the opening of the first Ueshiba dojo in Ayabe, Japan, "aikido" was officially recognised as the name of Morihei Ueshiba's art.

Ueshiba moved to Tokyo in 1926, where he set up the Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

From 1935 onwards, Ueshiba had been purchasing land in Iwama in Ibaraki Prefecture. In 1942, having acquired around 17 acres of farmland there, he left Tokyo and moved to Iwama permanently, settling in a small farmer's cottage. Here he founded the Aiki Shuren Dojo, also known as the Iwama dojo. 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 for citizens displaced by the severe firebombing.

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

From the end of the war until the 1960s, he worked to promote aikido throughout Japan and abroad. He died from liver cancer in 1969.

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