What Is Aikido?

Aikido is a Japanese system of budo created by Master Morihei Ueshiba also called O’Sensei (大 先生), in the early 20th Century It is derived from a number of forms of Jujutsu, in particular sword arts such as Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu, and contains elements of misogi (Purification Rituals), meditative practices and body development exercises.

It is concerned on one hand an effective ways of preserving practitioners from harm, while inflicting as little damage as possible on an aggressor. Aikido is also concerned with promoting health and long life through regular practice, relaxing and stretching the body through intricate movements.

The techniques can be aerobic and callinetic and practiced in a way so as not to injure. Aikido Has both solo exercises (called Tandoku-dosa) and paired exercises (called Sotai Dosa), and is considered a purely defensive art practices without aggression.

The System is holistic dealing with attacks from all positions and also considers multiple attackers and to some degree weapons such as Bokken (Wooden sword), Jo (wooden Staff),or Tanto (wooden knife) practices.


Aikido A Brief History

Like all arts Aikido was created and developed by a visionary over many years, it’s history is just over 100 years old. Over the years it has gone through a number of important stages until it became as it is today.

Young Master Ueshiba

Aikido is a modern martial art created Morihei Ueshiba also called O’Sensei (meaning Great Teacher) in the former half of the 20th century. Morihei Ueshiba was born 14 December 1883 in Tanabe, Japan to wealthy parents.

At a young age he was encouraged to take up sumo wrestling and swimming to increase his health and vitality. In 1903, as a teenager, he entered the army, and it was during this period he trained in a variety of combat arts and martial disciplines.


Master Takeda Sokaku 

Some of these Arts were open hand like judo, others were with weapons like a spear and rifle bayonet.

In 1912 Master Ueshiba helped setup a pioneer colony (Shirataki) on the island of Hokkiado Japans large northern island. This was a somewhat arduous and difficult task for all those involved as the conditions were wild and very basic.

However he found time to further concentrate on his martial training, then in 1915 he met he founder of Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jutsu, Master Takeda Sokaku. This was a system which was to greatly influence the creation of aikido in the coming years. Master Ueshiba studied and practiced this art for many years attaining a high level of proficiency. 


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Another important event which influenced the development of Aikido happened in 1919 when Master Ueshiba was travelling home to see his dying father.

Stopping on the way at Ayabe to pray for his fathers recovery he encountered the flamboyant and enigmatic Onisaburo Deguchi of the Omoto-Kyo religion who became his spiritual guide.


Onisaburo Deguchi

Omoto-Kyo thus became an important component of the philosophy behind Master Ueshibas’ martial arts practice then later Aikido.

Master Ueshiba followed Deguchi’s teachings and ideals then accompanied him as a body guard on a trip to Mongolia. It was the groups intention to set up a utopian colony of the Omoto-Kyo in the Mongolian interior.


However the group was arrested along with a group of rebels and sentenced to death. Fortunately a Japanese official stepped in and interceded. Master Ueshiba returned home with many things to contemplate over after this incident and spent time deciding which direction his life should take. These thoughts which over the years would help develop the foundations of Aikido.

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Concentrating once again of teaching martial arts Master Ueshiba increased his proficiency to a high level, this gained him a great deal of popularity and renown throughout Japan. As a result of this he came to the attention of a number of notable, prominent figures in the Japanese military

In particular he came to know the martial arts enthusiast Admiral Isamu Takeshita. It was Takeshita who was instrumental in the promotion of Master Ueshibas’ art and saw to his relocation to Tokyo in 1927 and thus the installation of his dojo. In 1930 Master Jigoro Kano, the founder of Judo, visited Master Ueshiba .

So impressed was he that he sent some of his best students to practice the art. Within a year of this, Master Ueshiba opened Kobukan Dojo where he taught his technique Aiki Budo, this place would later become the Honbu (meaning Headquarters) of Aikido. In 1940 Aikido was officially recognised as a martial art by the Japanese government.

Then two years later Master Ueshiba moved his residence to Iwama opening Aiki Shuren Dojo. It was here that he further developed the techniques and practices which can be recognised today in modern Aikido. In 1969 Master Ueshiba died leaving behind him a great legacy. [tribulant_slideshow gallery_id=”4″]

Morihei Ueshiba at the time of his death left his unfinished legacy to one of his sons, Kisshomaru Ueshiba (June 1921-Jan 1999) as is the Japanese iemoto tradition. thus Kisshomaru became the Second Doshu ( meaning leader, “way master”) of the Honbu Aikikai Foundation. A number of O’Senseis’ most experienced students went on to disseminate Aikido in schools in their own unique styles (called ryu,) throughout the world.

However Aikido in the form of Traditional Akikai remains the most prominent form practiced under the founders family. From around 1951 Aikido started to become known worldwide, initially finding its way into Judo dojos and seminars and then later by appointed 

instructors and officials from the Honbu, some who would become 

permanent residents. In 1967 the original Kobukan dojo building was demolished and replaced with what is the current Honbu dojo building. Under the tenure of Kisshomaru many international ties were established and organizations set up in other countries, and also a forum promoting Aikido excellence. I.A.F. (International Aikido Federation, set up around 1976).


In 1999 Kisshomaru Doshu was succeeded by his son Moriteru Ueshiba, (born 1951). Moriteru Ueshiba is the current doshu guiding aikido into the future with the aide of his son Mitsuteru Ueshiba (born 1980) commonly referred to as “Waka-Sensei”. Mitsuteru Ueshiba holds the position of Dojo Cho at Honbu Dojo.