The art Aikido was founded in Japan around 1930 by Morihei Ueshiba who is still referred to by Aikido students as O’Sensei (Great Teacher.) Ueshiba Sensei was a student of many Japanese Martial Arts throughout his lifetime. He studied many of the former military armed systems such as the spear, the jo (short stick,) bayonet and Samurai Sword. As well he studied unarmed systems such as Judo, and several classical styles of Jujutsu receiving instructors rank in most of these. But it was a chance meeting with a Master named Sokaku Takeda of the Daito-Ryu Aikijujutsu system that truly formulated what would later become Aikido. It was through Takeda that he truly learned the Way of the Martial Arts (Budo.) Aikido was formed out of dissatisfaction with all the many other arts he had studied before. In these he saw only a desire to feed ones ego and destroy the enemy. He felt the Martial Arts were not about performing devastating technique but for refining ones spirit. As a devout follower of the Oomoto-kyo an early 20th century sect of Shinto, Ueshiba was a very spiritual person. After an experience during meditation Ueshiba was enlightened to the art of Aikido.
He found that by combining the physical technique of the Daito-Ryu with the movements and entering techniques of the Jo, Spear and Sword coupled with the art of “blending” with the attack he could have both a very effective form of self defense and also a form of meditation in motion.
Aikido uses joint locks, joint manipulation or controlling techniques and throws. Aikido is considered a gentle art and is not designed for purposes of attacking another. Aikido starts in body movement and entering techniques. In Aikido one blends with the attacker while extending Ki (energy) while redirecting the attackers Ki. Ueshiba would say “that the moment my attacker decides to attack I will be already standing safely behind him.” This is Aikido. It is designed to clear our minds and create a sense of Harmony with all of nature.
The principles of Aikido are one of love. That we should show compassion even for the person that is attacking us. Ueshiba was once quoted saying that anyone attacking him has already lost, even before the attack. Because it is his will to do violence that has defeated him. This idea is steeped in the principle of universal harmony, which teaches us centering, and unity within ourselves. Ueshiba would often say that the only true enemy is the enemy inside us.
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