History of Aikido

Aikido's Founder, Master Morihei Ueshiba, was born in Japan on 14 December 1883. As a boy, he often saw local thugs beat up his father for political reasons. He set out to make himself strong so that he could take revenge. He devoted himself to hard physical conditioning and eventually to the practise of the martial arts, receiving certificates of mastery in several styles of Jujitsu, fencing, and spear fighting. In spite of his impressive physical and martial capabilities, he felt very dissatisfied. He began immersing into spirituality in hopes of finding a deeper significance to life, all the while continuing to pursue his studies of the martial ways. By combining his martial training with his spiritual and philosophical ideologies, he created the modern martial way of Aikido. Master Ueshiba decided on the name "Aikido" in 1942 (before that he called his martial way "Aikibudo" or "Aiki no michi").

Aikido is rooted in several styles of Jujitsu (from which modern Judo is also derived), in particular Daitoryu Aikijujitsu, as well as sword and spear fighting arts. Oversimplifying somewhat, we may say that technical Aikido takes the joint locks and throws from Aikijujitsu 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.

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-cultivation through Aikido training.

(Extracted from the Aikido Primer by Eric Sotnak)