Aikido is a relatively new Japanese martial art, created by Morihei Ueshiba (b. 1883 – 1969), known as O-Sensei (the Great Teacher). He was one of history's greatest martial artists; although an incredible warrior from typical martial art standards, he was above all a man of peace who detested any kind of violence. Aikido can be translated as "Way of Harmony”.
Ueshiba's previous martial arts training started from the traditional study of kenjutsu and kendo, and military training during the 1900's, during which he studied Yagyu-Ryu Jujitsu. Ueshiba served as an infantryman in the Russo-Japanese War and later served as an instructor at Japan's elite military academies. His incredible skill led him to also study Kodokan Judo and later on Daito-Ryu Jujitsu, among other martial arts he mastered.
But, transitioning away from military or competition based views, O-Sensei said, "The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood as a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek competition are making a grave mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst sin a human being can commit. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love."
A farmer, Ueshiba was on a spiritual quest and was deeply rooted in the connection between martial arts, universal energies, nature, and self. O-Sensei believed there was an important bond between Budo (the Way of a Warrior) and agriculture, and they were a direct link to connecting one to the natures of the universe.
He has been quoted describing one vision: " All at once I understood the nature of creation: the Way of a Warrior is to manifest Divine Love, a spirit that embraces and nurtures all things. Tears of gratitude and joy streamed down my cheeks. I saw the entire earth as my home, and the sun, moon, and stars as my intimate friends. All attachment to material things vanished.”
He also believed that your victory today could be defeated tomorrow, and that all individuals will ultimately meet someone stronger. He taught that the real opponent was oneself, and the real battle of life is to overcome the qualities of competition, pettiness and selfishness. “Masakatsu Agatsu!” or “True Victory is Victory Over Oneself!”
He departed from his existing martial studies and backgrounds and converged the mind, body, and the spirit into a martial art of his own. This early style of Aikido he named Aiki-Bujitsu, and later renamed it Aiki-Budo. In the 1940's, this Aiki-Budo was given the name of Aikido... a martial art of unifying the mind, body, and spirit, and exemplifying non-violent connections and resolutions with all internal/external conflicts. The physical embodiment of this philosophy is clearly seen in the smooth techniques particular to aikido, as with the naturally occurring shapes & motions in nature.
Aikido Founder-Morihei Ueshiba
December 14, 1883 - April 26, 1969