Aikido - What's in a Name?

The term Aikido is held in great reverence by the practitioners of this Budo (myself included ). It is an extremely high minded concept……"Harmony with the Universal Spirit", so it's no wonder really. We all imagine, or would like to, that this name manifested out of the cosmic consciousness to Morihei Ueshiba whilst in a state of deep meditation, so the name truly represents his highly developed spiritual/martial way.

The fact is, however , that nothing could be further from the truth. It seems that Morihei was not particularly interested in naming his art. Prior to 1922 he referred to it as either Ueshiba Ryu jujutsu or (perhaps when political correctness was called for) Daito-ryu jujutsu since this was the art he learned from Sokaku Takeda. After 1922 the term "aiki" materialised on certificates and the like. This it seemed was at the suggestion of Onisaburo Deguchi, Morihei's spiritual guru, apparently to denote the strong spiritual content of Morihei's evolving teachings.

As an interesting aside at this point, Westbrook and Ratti in their book "Secrets of the Samurai" record that the concept of aiki is an ancient one and that schools teaching aiki-jutsu had existed for several hundred years. They also cite the Daito-ryu as being one of them. Perhaps Takeda sensei simply forgot to use the term and Onisaburo reminded him of his oversight. (of course! thats why they didn't get on)

In the 1930's Morihei coined the term Asahi-Ryu for the art he taught at the Asahi News dojo in Osaka before he was chased off by Takeda. Latterly the term "aikibudo" was adopted and this persisted until the early 1940's.

In 1942 Minoru Harai whilst acting as Director General of the Kobukan dojo attended a meeting of the Dai Nihon Butokukai (an umbrella organisation which promotes Japanese Budo) which was at that time re-structuring it sub-divisions). Morihei's "aikibudo" was to form part of a new division featuring other jujutsu and yawara schools all based loosely around the same principles. Takeshi Hisatomi,of the Kodokan and perhaps chairman of that particular forum felt that aikibudo may not be acceptable to certain Kendo schools and made a strong assertion for the name of Aikido to be adopted as a coverall term representing all of the schools in this division. This was accepted by Minoru Harai and the other members present and from that day on Morihei Ueshiba's art adopted the name of Aikido.

If the above is a correct account of what went on, it would seem quite possible that there may be other Aikido ryu out there totally unconnected with the teachings of Morihei Ueshiba. Can this really be so? And is Minoru Harai's Korindo Aikido one such art?

So this unique name which we all feel represents the true heart of our budo was simply a spontaneous, convenience proposed by a total outsider (well sort of) to cover a multitude of sins and avoid political incorrectness. Who knows what we may have been practicing had things been different…Chido perhaps?

Surprisingly it was a bloody good choice considering it was made by a committee , who cares anyway……whats in a name?

Tony Hughes

 

   
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