While still a young man, Morihei Ueshiba (1883 – 1969, shown below) had become unbeatable in spear, jiu-jitsu and sword-fighting. His unique prowess and strength were legend in Japan at a time when physical challenges were the order of the day. He felt, however, that he had not yet reached the epitome of the true martial way (budo). After the death of his beloved father in 1918, Master Ueshiba spent seven years in spiritual studies and combined these with his previous physical training.
Presently he was challenged to a duel by a renowned fencing master. Morihei Ueshiba ended the conflict by deftly avoiding the fatal attacks, while never touching his opponent. This experience prompted a realization that: “True budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world and correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in the universe.”
Shortly thereafter, Master Ueshiba founded Aikido – a gentle but powerful martial art born of the synthesis of true budo and spiritual enlightenment.
At first, only hand-picked students were allowed to train in Aikido. But after 1947, Master Ueshiba opened his classes to the public. In the early 1950’s Aikido was introduced in America, growing in popularity ever since. Students of Aikido refer to Master Ueshiba as “O-Sensei” – which means “great teacher”. His grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba, carries on the tradition as the head of the Aikido World Headquarters in Japan.
O-sensei in his 40s
O-sensei in his 80s