The Way of Harmony
Developed in the early part of the 20th century, Aikido instruction was at first restricted to Japanese aristocracy and elite members of the Japanese military. Its principles were so profound and techniques so effective that there was tremendous public demand. In the 1950s, Aikido teachings were made public and have spread to become popular worldwide.
The philosophy of Aikido teaches us that budo (the martial way) should concentrate not on harming others, but on protecting them. We learn that aggression breeds greater aggression and that kindness also will be returned by others. Rather than harming another and causing resentment, we are taught to neutralize physical and mental aggression & avoid injury to ourselves and the attacker.
Aikido is an effective self-defense and a path of development, integrating the whole person- physically, mentally & spiritually. Mental benefits of aikido training include greater self-confidence, enhanced awareness, stress reduction, mental relaxation, enhanced interpersonal relational skills, greater respect for others and a harmonious attitude. Physically, it develops strength, flexibility, cardiovascular endurance, balance, coordination and muscular relaxation. Through aikido training, the practitioner becomes a more integrated individual, with improved abilities to function within and contribute to their local community and the world at large.
Known to aikido students as Osensei (the great teacher).
The founder's life was devoted to study and development of the martial way (budo). The story of his life is the early history of aikido.
Aikido was founded by Master Morihei Ueshiba, He was born in 1883 in what is now known as Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, on a south-central peninsula of the main island of Japan. Early in his youth he began training in various martial arts, including weaponless self defense (Kito, Daito and Shinkage Sect jujitsu), swordsmanship (Yagyu Sect kenjustsu) and spear fighting (Hozoin sojutsu). In addition, throughout his life, he maintained an intense interest in philosophy and religion, studying Zen and Shingon Sect Buddhism and Omotokyo religion.
In 1925, the Master was living in Ayabe, Kyoto Prefecture, and devoting his efforts toward a fuller understanding of budo (martial ways, doctrines or beliefs, as distinguished from martial techniques). It is this time and place which marks the genesis of modern Aikido, for it was there that the Master came to the sudden and overwhelming realization that the essence of budo was not to fell one's opponent by forceful means, but to take God's love, which correctly applied, produces, protects and cultivates all things in Nature, and to assimilate and utilize it in one's own mind and body.
To achieve this harmony between the spirit of love and budo's physical arts, the Master combined martial arts techniques, ethical and religious principles to synthesize the dynamic yet gentle art of Aikido. Indeed, the very name of the art reveals its underlying doctrine (as described below).