The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平) Sensei, is also called by his students “O’sensei” or Great teacher. O’sensei was a master of many styles of Japanese martial arts and weaponry. He was mastered in many styles of Eastern philosophies.
The martial art that I believe most influenced O’sensei in developing Aikido was called Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu (大東流合気柔術). A Sword school which focused on using “Aiki”-(internal energy -合氣) when executing techniques used to defend oneself against weapons, multiple attackers, and single handed attacks. The techniques all start when the attacker and defender find a position called Mai-ia, or proper distance. At this point-distance, neither opponent can reach each other just by swinging their weapons. They must step toward their opponent and then strike. This is the magical moment when “Aiki” is used in this specialized self- defense. The defender harmonizes with the attacker’s aggressive energy. At that moment the yielding force “Aiki” becomes “One” with the aggressive energy and takes “control over” the attackers balance. The two forces can now move as one and the defender gains the advantage and executes whatever technique works best in that moment. However, at times, the attackers would be killed or extremely injured by these old school battle field techniques. Just practicing these techniques were very difficult and required a practitioner to endure a lot of pain and discomfort.
O’sensei felt very deeply that there must be a better “Way” to practice self-defense, and in turn deal with our enemies or opponents in life in such a manner to avoid hurting them or possibly killing them. Fortunately, O’sensei had a life changing experience when this idea was crystallized into his spirit and psyche. In this moment, he saw a “golden light” all around him and felt the love of the universe fill every cell in his body. After that day, O’Sensei dedicated his life to practicing what he called AikiJutsu and later named “Aikido” in 1945. Aikido embodies the “art of peace”, a form of self-defense that concerned itself first and foremost with the safety of our enemy or that which puts fear in our hearts.
This revolutionary martial art created by O’Sensei taught the same principles he learned in Diato-Ryu without the risk of hurting your enemy. He truly believed that to become one with “Budo” -true martial spirit- Aikido practitioners must focus not just on protecting themselves and their loved ones but protecting their enemies too! To teach instead of kill, to give instead of take. This is Aikido’s goal. To train the spirit and the body to be strong and to create a world that chooses peace, not war. This was his “Mission Statement”. Aikido.