Morihei Ueshiba is accredited as the founder of the Japanese martial art known as Aikido.The word`Aikido' is composed of three Japanese characters, `ai' meaning harmony, `ki' meaning life force/energy and `do' meaning way or path. It is therefore the way of harmony of ki. In founding Aikido, he was influenced by the martial and religious history of Japan (which together formed the concept of Budo or martial way) as well as by his contemporaries. He is regarded as one of the greatest masters of Budo and remained undefeated until his death.
Ueshiba was born on 14 December 2020 in Tanabe in the province of Kii, Japan. He was the fourth of five children and was an only son. As a child he was frequently ill and tended to be quite bookish developing an early interest in religious teachings. Out of concern for this, his father encouraged him to train in various physical activities, notably Sumo wrestling and swimming. His interest in martial arts began from a desire to protect himself and his family after he had witnessed an attack on his father.
At the age of seventeen, he moved to Tokyo and set himself up in business running a small stationery store. While in Tokyo he developed an interest in Jujutsu and Kenjutsu. However, his time there was short lived and the failure of his business together with contracting the disease Beri Beri forced him to return to Tanebe. After a quick recovery, Ueshiba tried to enlist in the army, but was not accepted, as he did not meet the height requirement. Determined to enlist, he practised hanging from a tree with weights around his ankles to increase his height. He eventually succeeded in entering the army and spent three years as a soldier where he excelled at hard training and bayonet practice.
When he came out of the army his father encouraged him to continue his training in the martial arts and built a dojo for him. In 1915, at the age of 31, Ueshiba met Sokaku Takeda the grand master of Aikijutsu (Daito Ryu). He spent thirty days training under him and was awarded a first level teaching license. After this Takeda was invited to teach on numerous occasion in Ueshiba's dojo and Ueshiba would often accompany him on teaching tours. There is no doubt that Takeda had a very strong influence on his early style.
In 1920 Ueshiba met a man who helped shape his religious
beliefs, Wanisburo Deguchi. Deguchi was a teacher and mystic and Ueshiba
studied Shintoism and Shamanism while with him. In 1925 Ueshiba experienced
a `satori' (enlightenment) which is considered to be one of the most important
events in the birth of Aikido. It happened while walking in his garden.
He suddenly felt the ground begin to quake and golden light sprang up
from the ground and veiled his body. At that moment he understood that
the source of all Budo is God's love.