Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama: “The Majestic
Figure of a Superb Martial Artist”
“The Master quickly moves his body sensing the opponent’s
flow of ki and executes a technique by harmonizing his power.”
The martial arts of Japan which have been transmitted from olden times are not for the purpose of defeating one’s opponent with power or weapons nor for leading the world to destruction. The aim of true martial arts is the achievement of happiness and world peace through the training of one’s own body.
This is Iwama-machi in located in Ibaragi Prefecture. Here is where the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, devotes himself to spiritual martial arts training.
This is Morihei Ueshiba, whose bearing bespeaks the manner of an old-style martial artist.
Master Ueshiba is intent in his practice and study of the martial arts whose true nature he considers to be “love” while mentally offering prayers to the martial kami or deities.
One of the poems of the Founder reads, “The Great Universe which is the Path of Aiki becomes the light for all people and opens up the world.”
There are no grappling or pushing movements in Aikido techniques. Victory or defeat is decided at the instant one touches his opponent. There are more than 200 basic techniques in Aikido while the number of applied techniques are countless.
The Aikido spirit where mind and body are combined is created in this silent atmosphere.
Like a spiral movement with a single center, the movements in Aikido techniques utilize centrifugal and centripetal forces to draw in the power of the opponent into one’s own ki flow like a spinning top. Aikido throws are executed with this power.
The Founder mastered the secrets of several martial arts including Daito-ryu Jujutsu, Yagyu-ryu, Aioi-ryu and Hozoin-ryu. When he holds a jo or staff, it becomes an Aiki jo. When he holds a ken or sword it becomes an Aiki ken. With his kokyu power he can easily throw his strongest students using their own power.
There are techniques for throwing an opponent using the strengths and weaknesses inherent in vertical pushing and horizontal extension power.
The Master is enthusiastic in cultivating the spirits of his young students. “Martial arts are love. The “Ai” of Aiki leads to the “Ai” of love of heaven and earth and all beings. Martial arts are an expression of the love of all living things.” The master teaches that the combination of this spirit and these techniques develop fine people and strong techniques.
The state of self-renunciation achieved through prayer is the sabbath of the soul of the Founder who has never ceased his pursuit of the path of martial arts. This state of mental calm also serves as the training ground for his vigorous spirit.
The sun rises in the morning and sets in the evening, the Founder understands the flow of the universe and has discovered the origin of the martial arts which exist within this flow. He creates new Aiki techniques from this source of inspiration.
In the outdoor dojo the Founder is absorbed in practicing spear techniques by himself. The ever-changing flow of yin and yang…. The movement of the spear is so fast it appears to be alive. The sharpness and sound of the sword wielded by the Founder after inhaling spiritual ki are perceptible. With this sound, the blood surges through the master’s body and he never becomes tired even though executing hundreds of movements.
As a result of this training of his body and mind the Founder can sense someone’s approach and the movement of their mind at all times and places and has an uncanny ability to understand all things.
This free body turning movement is a way of warming up before practice.
Strict practice begins. We see splendid Aikido techniques such as irimi-tenkan, kotegaeshi and kokyunage.
If the Master takes his opponent’s arm in a reverse grab and pulls it backward like this, the student is unable to resist from his prone position while the Founder remains standing. Thus, he is unable to stand even though held by a single finger.
The Master quickly moves his body sensing the opponent’s flow of ki and executes a technique by harmonizing his power. Each movement although appearing to be unrelated is a wonderful technique which depends on the essence and principles of Aikido.
This kind of strict training creates individuals who are expert in the martial arts and spiritually advanced.
The highest ideal of mankind is to achieve mastery in a given pursuit. The spiritual, exquisite technique of Aikido Master Morihei Ueshiba will be transmitted forever to all generations in the annals of martial lore.
[The above text has been adapted from the narration of "The Founder of Aikido" video that is included in its entirety in this special offer.]
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Aikido Journal offers its complete collection of Morihei Ueshiba films for the first time in downloadable format. This invaluable historical material contains more than four hours of films and audio recordings of O-Sensei covering the period of 1935 to just prior to his passing in 1969. Morihei Ueshiba’s aikido was different from anyone else, and serious practitioners need to know how he moved, how he set up uke, and subtly blended using softness to attain such mystifying results on the mat. These are goals worthy of working for to greatly improve your aikido skills!