‘Aikido’, the ‘Art of Peace’
Signed Morihei Ueshiba
‘The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner., a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your inner enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.’
– Morihei Ueshiba, founder of Aikido, ‘the Art of Peace’.
The basic techniques of Aikido originated in Japan, around the 14th century. In the 20th century the techniques were systematized into their modern form by Japanese martial arts master Ueshiba. The master was born in the village of Tanabe on December 14, 1883. His father taught a secret method of combat called Aioi-Ryu with a mixture of Tai-jitsu and Kendo. The fighting style Ueshiba learned as a boy lies at the root of present-day Aikido. As a youth, Ueshiba lived and worked in Tokyo and Sakai, where he studied various forms of jujitsu and fencing. After a period of military service in the Russo-Japanese War, Ueshiba settled on the northern island of Hokkaido. His father’s death in 1918 had a profound effect on Ueshiba’s spirit, and he began to seek an answer in meditation and prayer. He moved to Ayabe where he lived and worked until 1926. During this time his son was born and the master occupied himself with jujitsu, the art of the spear, and farm work.
An important experience occurred to Ueshiba in the spring of 1925. A visit from a naval officer and fencing professor led to a contest with wooden swords. The officer attacked, but the master dodged each blow, and his opponent, unable to touch him, finally gave up. Aftern this encounter, he went into his garden alone. Here, he experienced satori, the Zen equivalent of a revelation: Instead of tying to block an attack and reply to it, or to avoid and attack and then counter-attack, the aim is to harmonize one’s will with the will of the opponent. One should conduct and lead the enrgy (ki) in the opponent’s movement, until it is dissipated, without causing harm.
Morihei Ueshiba demonstrating proper form with a bokken, or wooden sword.
On April 26, 1969, at 86 years of age, the master died in his sleep. But his legacy lives on in the spirit and philosophy of the martial art he founded. Since founding Aikido, the art has flourished all over the world.