.::The Founder Of Aikido::.
1883 - 1969
-A Partial History of O`Sensei’s Life:
Morihei Ueshiba was born on December 14, 1883 in an area of the Wakayama Prefecture known as Tanabe City. He was the fourth child, and first son, of Yoroku and Yuki Ueshiba. From his father he inherited a samurai's determination and interest in public affairs, and from his mother, Yuki Itokawa, an intense interest in religion, poetry and art. It is said she came from a landowning family of noble descent. In his early childhood, Morihei was rather weak and sickly, which led to his preference of staying indoors to read books instead of playing outside. At around age seven he was sent to a nearby Buddhist temple of the Shingon sect to study Chinese classics and Buddhist scriptures. He loved to listen to the legends of the wonder-working "En no Gyoja", reputed to have founded Shugendo and the miracle tales told about the Buddhist saint Kukai, also lovingly venerated as "Kobo Daishi". Young Morihei was fascinated by the esoteric Buddhist rituals and had even considered becoming a Buddhist priest at one time. He was so enthralled by these many stories of things magical, most of which occurred one thousand years before his birth that he began to experience recurring dreams.
To counteract his son's daydreaming, his very concerned father would recount the tales of Morihei's great-grandfather Kichiemon, said to be one of the strongest samurai of his day, and encouraged him in more physical pursuits like Sumo and swimming. Morihei became stronger and finally realized the necessity of being strong after his father was attacked and beaten by a gang of thugs hired by a rival politician. Yoroku was a widely respected member of the local community who had served on the village council for over 20 years. This incident, and perhaps others like it, left a lasting impression on the growing boy.
After completing elementary schooling and later obtaining his diploma from the Yoshida Abacus Institute, he found work at the Tanabe Tax Office. He resigned in 1902 and went to Tokyo with the aim of making a fresh start as a businessman. Morihei took on a couple jobs and even established his own small stationery and supply company, Ueshiba Trading. What is important to note is that it was this first stay in Tokyo that Morihei began his study of the martial arts. He greatly enjoyed his study of traditional jujutsu at the Kito-ryu dojo and kenjutsu (swordsmanship) at the Shinkage Ryu training center. But as fate would have it, he developed beri-beri and was forced to leave Tokyo which sent him back home to Tanabe. Soon after some recovery, is when he later married his life-long partner, Hatsu Itokawa, whom he had known since childhood.
After regaining his health right before the Russo-Japanese War period, he decided to enlist in the army. Standing at just under five feet tall, he failed to meet the minimum height requirements. He was so upset that he went immediately to the forests and swung on trees trying desperately to stretch his body out. On his next attempt to enlist, he passed his examination and became an infantryman in 1903 with the 37th Regiment of the Fourth Division in Osaka. Morihei was nicknamed “the King of Soldiers” for his skill with the bayonet and his hardworking, honest character. The war broke out a year later so he was sent to the front and returned having been promoted to the rank of sergeant for outstanding bravery in the field. During his leisure time from military life he continued to pursue his interest in the martial arts, attending Masakatsu Nakai’s dojo where he learned the Goto school of Yagyu-ryu jujutsu. All this time he impressed his superiors so much that his commanding officer recommended him for the National Military Academy, but for various reasons he declined the position and was then discharged from active duty in 1907.
- Aikido Origins -
Morihei returned home to the family farm in Tanabe. Having grown stronger throughout his time in the military, he was now eager to continue physical training. His father built a dojo on the farm and invited the well-known martial artist Kiyoshi Takaki to tutor him. During the next three years, Morihei Ueshiba learned the Kodokan style of Judo and continued to train at the Nakai Dojo where he was awarded a teaching license from the Goto School in 1908. At the same time, he became more interested in political affairs and involved himself in many local activities. In the spring of 1912, at the age of 29, he and his family moved into the wilderness of Hokkaido, settling in Shirataki, as part of a group of just over 80 people. After a few years of struggle, the small village started to prosper owing much to the timber industry.
It was during this time in Hokkaido that he met Sokaku Takeda, Grand Master of Daito-Ryu Jujutsu. After meeting the legendary Takeda and finding himself as no match for him, Ueshiba seemed to forget everything else and immersed himself into training. Back in Shirataki, he built a dojo and invited Takeda to live there, which he gladly accepted. Morihei subsequently gained a certificate (first level teaching license) in Daito-ryu jujutsu.
Upon hearing of his father's serious illness, Ueshiba sold off most of his property and left the dojo to Takeda. He would not return to Hokkaido. On his journey home, he impulsively stopped in Ayabe, headquarters for the new Omoto-kyo religion. Here he met the master of the new religion, Onisaburo Deguchi. After being enthralled with Ayabe and Deguchi, he stayed a few extra days before returning home, where he then realized that he had stayed away too long. His father had passed away. Ueshiba took his father's death very hard. He decided to sell off all his ancestral land and move to Ayabe to study Omoto-kyo. For the next eight years, Ueshiba studied with his mentor Onisaburo Deguchi, where he also taught martial arts to members and special guests, and headed up the local fire brigade.
A pacifist, Deguchi was an advocate of non-violent resistance and universal disarmament. He was noted to have said, "Armament and war are the means by which the landlords and capitalists make their profit, while the poor suffer." It is intriguing that a man of this nature could become so close to a martial artist such as Ueshiba. However, it did not take long for Deguchi to realize that Ueshiba's purpose on earth was "to teach the real meaning of Budo: an end to all fighting and contention."
The study of Omoto-kyo and his association with Onisaburo profoundly affected Ueshiba's life. He once stated that while Sokaku Takeda opened his eyes to the essence of Budo, his enlightenment came from his Omoto-kyo experiences. During his early 40`s (around 1925), Ueshiba had several spiritual experiences which so impressed him that his life and his training were forever changed. He realized the true purpose of Budo was Love, that which universally cherishes and nourishes all beings.
For the next several years, many people sought Ueshiba's teaching, among them Kenji Tomiki (who went on to make his own style of Aikido) and the famous Admiral Takeshita. In 1927, Onisaburo Deguchi encouraged Ueshiba to separate from Omoto-kyo and start seeking his own way. This he did and almost immediately moved to Tokyo. Ueshiba's following had grown to the point that he was moved to build a formal dojo in the Ushigome district of the city (the present site of Aikido World Headquarters). While the dojo was being constructed, many high-ranking instructors of other arts came to visit, such as Jigoro Kano the founder of present-day Judo. They were so impressed that they would dispatch their own students to study under Ueshiba.
In 1931, the "Kobukan" was finished. A "Budo Enhancement Society" was founded in 1932 with Ueshiba as Chief Instructor. It was about this time that students such as Gozo Shioda, Rinjiro Shirata and others joined the dojo. Up to the outbreak of World War II, Ueshiba was extremely busy teaching at the Kobukan, as well as holding special classes for the major military and police academies. For the next 10 years, Ueshiba became more and more famous and many stories began to appear in writing. His only son, Kisshomaru, did much of the writing and documenting of the evens of his life.
In 1942, supposedly because of a divine command, he longed to return to the farmlands. He had often said that "Budo and farming are one." The war had emptied the Kobukan, and he was tired of city life. Leaving the Kobukan in the hands of his son Kisshomaru, he moved to the Ibaraki Prefecture and the village of Iwama. Here, he built an outdoor dojo and is the now famous Aiki Shrine.
Iwama is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern-day Aikido, "the Way of Harmony." Prior to this move, his system had been called Aikijutsu, then Aiki-Budo, still primarily a martial art rather than a spiritual path. From 1942 (when the name Aikido was first formally used) to 1952, Ueshiba consolidated the techniques and perfected the spiritual philosophy of all that is "AiKi" within Aikido.
After the war, Aikido's reputation grew rapidly at the Kobukan (now called Hombu Dojo) under the direction of Kisshomaru Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba had become famous and was soon regarded as "O Sensei" or "Great Teacher," and the Grand Master of Aikido. He had also received many decorations from the Japanese government. Right up to the end of his life, Master Ueshiba, O Sensei, refined and improved his "Way", never losing his dedication for hard training. He held demonstrations up to about 4 months before his death.
In early spring of 1969, O Sensei fell ill and told his son Kisshomaru that "God is calling me." He was returned to his home at his request to be near his dojo. On April 15th, his condition became critical. As his students made their last calls, he gave his final instructions - "Aikido is for the entire World. Train not for selfish reasons, but for all people everywhere."
Early on the morning of April 26th, 1969, the 86-year-old O Sensei took his son's hand, smiled and said, "Take care of things" and died. Two months later, Hatsu, his wife of 67 years, followed him. O Sensei's ashes were buried in the family temple in Tanabe. Every year a memorial service is held on April 29th at the Aiki Shrine in Iwama. Aikido schools around the globe also pay tribute to his memory by conducting or hosting Aikido training seminars around that time every April.
About us and Shugenkan Aikido
On the technical side, Aikido is rooted in several styles of jujutsu (from which modern Judo is also derived), in particular Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. One may say that Aikido takes the joint locks and throws from classical jujutsu and combines them with the body movements of sword and spear fighting. However, we must also realize that many Aikido techniques are the result of Master Ueshiba's own innovation using spontaneity with the forces of nature as his ally.
At the core of almost all philosophical interpretations of Aikido, however, we may identify at least two fundamental threads:
(1) A commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict whenever possible.
(2) A commitment to self-improvement through Aikido training.
message from the Instructor:
Please know that this is a Dojo where
one learns to become a better Human Being through the training in Aikido. Ours
is a serious and continuous journey with clear direction, but without a finish
line. My personal goal & motto is, ‘life-long practice’.
Shugenkan can best be translated as, “a place to cultivate the Mind and One’s
life source (through endurance training and testing)”. Since many see the AiKi
Compound as a sort of sanctuary, then said differently, it is a place where We
strive for continual self-improvement through Shugyo (intensive training). The
primary focus of our Dojo is the development of spiritual energy and inner
power as the best approach to effective self-defense. We learn to let Nature
take its course. Spontaneity is key. The mon (family crest) of a motif
combining a tessen (military fan/iron war fan) and bamboo leaves is the
School’s adopted logo. Samurai and tengu were usually in possession of a fan.
- Seek kaizen -
Shugendō - 修験道 is an ancient Japanese religion
and/or school of thought, in which Oneness with the Divine is obtained through
the study of the relationship between Man and Nature. Shugendō literally means
"the path of stamina training and experience." En no Ozunu, also known as En
no Gyoja is considered to be the Father of Shugendō and, interestingly enough,
was venerated by Ninja clans. There exist many legends about him all over