morehai1Morihei Ueshiba

Born:    December 14, 1883 Tanabe, Wakayama, Japan
Died:    April 26, 1969 (aged 85) Iwama, Ibaraki, Japan
 of hepatocellular carcinoma
Nationality:      Japanese
Style:    Founder of Aikido

 

 

 

 

Morihei Ueshiba was a famous martial artist and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido. He is often referred to as "the founder" Kaiso or Osensei, "Great Teacher".

Early years

Morihei Ueshiba was born in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, Japan on December 14, 1883.

The only son of Yoroku and Yuki Ueshiba's five children, Morihei was raised in a somewhat privileged setting. His father was a rich landowner who also traded in lumber and fishing and was politically active. Ueshiba was a rather weak, sickly child and bookish in his inclinations. At a young age his father encouraged him to take up sumo wrestling and swimming and entertained him with stories of his great-grandfather Kichiemon who was considered a very strong samurai in his era. The need for such strength was further emphasized when the young Ueshiba witnessed his father being attacked by followers of a competing politician.

Ueshiba is known to have studied several martial arts in his life but he did not train extensively in most and even his training in Yagyu Shingan-ryu was sporadic due to his military service in those years. Records show that he trained in Tenjin Shin'yo-ryu jujutsu under Tozawa Tokusaburo for a short period in 1901 in Tokyo; Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan-ryu under Nakai Masakatsu from 1903 to 1908 in Sakai, and judo under Kiyoichi Takagi 1911 in Tanabe. However, it was only after moving to the northern island of Hokkaido in 1912 with his wife, as part of a settlement effort, that his martial art training took on real depth. For it was here that he began his study of Daito-ryu aiki-jujutsu under its reviver Takeda Sokaku.     

Takeda Sokaku and Daito-ryuueshiba3
 
The technical curriculum of aikido was undoubtedly most greatly influenced by the teachings of Takeda Sokaku and his system of aiki-jujutsu called Daito-ryu. Although disputed by some, the ledger books of Takeda clearly show that Ueshiba spent a great deal of time training in Daito-ryu between 1915 and 1937. He received the majority of the important scrolls awarded by Takeda at this time including the Hiden Mokuroko, the Hiden Ogi and the Goshin'yo te. Ueshiba received his kyoju dairi certificate, or teaching license, for the system from Takeda in 1922. Takeda had not yet implemented a menkyo license, or highest level of achievement license, into his system at this time. He also received a Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu sword transmission scroll from Takeda in 1922 in Ayabe. Ueshiba then became a representative of Daito-ryu, toured with Takeda as a teaching assistant and taught the system to others under the Daito-ryu name.

The basic techniques of aikido seem to have their basis in teachings from various points in the Daito-ryu curriculum. A source of confusion is the different names used for these techniques in aikido and in the Daito-ryu system. In part this is because Takeda Tokimune added much of the nomenclature after the period in which Ueshiba studied. In addition the names ikkajo, nikkajo, sankajo used in both Daito-ryu and the early years of aikido, latter supplanted by terms such as ikkyo, nikkyo, sankyo, were really generic names translating to "first teaching", "second teaching", and so on. In Daito-ryu these usually refer to groupings of techniques while in aikido they usually refer to specific techniques and joint manipulations.

From aiki-jujitsu to aikido

In the earlier years of his teaching, from the 1920s to the mid 1930s, Ueshiba taught the aiki-jujutsu system he had earned a license in from Takeda Sokaku. His early students' documents bear the term aiki-jujutsu. Indeed, Ueshiba trained one of the future highest grade ueshiba4earners in Daito-ryu, Takuma Hisa, in the art before Takeda took charge of Hisa's training.

The early form of training under Ueshiba was characterized by the ample use of strikes to vital points (atemi), a larger total curriculum, a greater use of weapons, and a more linear approach to technique than would be found in later forms of aikido. These methods are preserved in the teachings of his early students Kenji Tomiki (who founded the Shodokan Aikido sometimes called Tomiki-ryu), Noriaki Inoue (who founded Shin'ei Taido), Minoru Mochizuki (who founded Yoseikan Budo), Gozo Shioda (who founded Yoshinkan Aikido) and Morihiro Saito (who preserved his early form of aikido under the Aikikai umbrella sometimes referred to as Iwama-ryu). Many of these styles are considered "pre-war styles", although some of the teachers continued to have contact and influence from Ueshiba in the years after the Second World War.

Later, as Ueshiba seemed to slowly grow away from Takeda, he began to implement more changes into the art. These changes are reflected in the differing names with which he referred to his art, first as aiki-jujutsu, then Ueshiba-ryu, Asahi-ryu, aiki budo, and finally aikido.

As Ueshiba grew older, more skilled, and more spiritual in his outlook, his art also changed and became softer and more circular. Striking techniques became less important and the formal curriculum became simpler. In his own expression of the art there was a greater emphasis on what is referred to as kokyu-nage, or "breath throws" which are soft and blending, utilizing the opponent's movement in order to throw them. Many of these techniques are rooted in the aiki-no-jutsu portions of the Daito-ryu curriculum rather than the more direct jujutsu style joint-locking techniques.

Onisaburo Deguchi's spiritual influence

After Ueshiba left Hokkaido he came under the influence of Onisaburo Deguchi, the spiritual leader of the Omoto-kyo religion in Ayabe. In addition to the effect on his spiritual growth, this connection was to have a major effect in introducing Ueshiba to various elite political circles as a martial artist. The Ueshiba Dojo in Ayabe was used to train members of the Omoto-kyo sect. He was involved in the first Omoto-kyo Incident, an ill-fated attempt to found a utopian colony in Mongolia. Although Ueshiba eventualueshiba5ly distanced himself from both these teachers, their effect on him and his art cannot be overstated.

The real birth of Aikido came as the result of three instances of spiritual awakening that Ueshiba experienced. The first happened in 1925, after Ueshiba had defeated a naval officer's bokken (wooden katana) attacks unarmed and without hurting the officer. Ueshiba then walked to his garden and had a spiritual awakening.
 
In 1927, Ueshiba moved to Tokyo where he founded his first dojo, which still exists today under the name Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Between 1940 and 1942 he made several visits to Manchukuo (Japanese occupied Manchuria) to instruct his martial art. In 1942 he left Tokyo and moved to Iwama in the Ibaraki Prefecture where the term "aikido" was first used as a name for his art. 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.

In 1969, Morihei Ueshiba became ill. He died suddenly on April 26, 1969 of cancer.

 

Source: Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morihei_Ueshiba