O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba (December 14, 1883 - April 26, 1969)
Aikido is a Japanese martial art was created by O’Sensei Morihei Ueshiba. Aikido developed from O’Sensei Ueshiba’s martial studies, philosophical outlook, and religious practice.
The term Aikido is made of three words: Ai - Ki - Do. Ai means union or harmony. Ki means energy or spirit. Do means way or path. So the term Aikido can be thought of as The Way of Harmonious Spirit.
During the 1920’s and 30’s O’Sensei Ueshiba trained in many martial arts in both armed and unarmed forms. The style of Daitō-ryū aiki-jūjutsu was the most influential on the development of aikido and the swordsmanship of kenjutsu is where much of the technical structure comes from. The term Aikido became the official name of this martial in 1942.
The Ōmoto-kyō religion was very instrumental in the development of Aikido. The goal of Aikido is to develop one's technical ability to be able to receive an attacker with love and compassion so as to be able to defend oneself while not causing any harm to the attacker. This makes Aikido a purely defensive art. There is no aspect of the training that develops aggression.
As with many martial arts today, the combative ability of the Aikido practitioner is no longer the primary purpose. Personal development of the practitioner occurs not only in technique and fitness, but also in virtuous living, personal enlightenment and contribution to the development of living in peace and unity with others.
O’Sensei Ueshiba taught aikido for many years and many of his students went on to develop schools of their own. The emphasis on the spiritual matters of life increased in focus as O’Sensei advanced into his later years. As such his students who established schools based on his early teachings will differ from students who developed schools based on O’Sensei’s teachings in his later years. This has created a variety of styles today that are all called Aikido but do differ in training styles and the execution of the various techniques. The fundamental essence is still present in all styles and most do hold to the tentent of defending oneself without harming the attacker.
Gozo Shioda (September 9, 1915 - July 17, 1994)
Gozo Shioda Sensei was a student of O’Sensei and his started his training in the late 1920’s. In 1932 he became an uchi-deshi (live-in student) with O’Sensei and this continued for 8 years.
The war caused much disruption throughout Japan during the 40’s and most martial arts schools were not operating during this time. This included O’Sensei’s dojo.
Gozo Shioda began teaching Aikido in 1950. In 1954 he won the prize for most outstanding demonstration at the All Japan Kobudo. This attracted sponsorship for Sensei Shioda which allowed him to build a new aikido dojo. The opening if this new dojo in 1955 is when the style of Yoshinkan Aikido was first introduced. Yoshinkan was the name of Sensei Shioda’s father's dojo who was also a martial artist in the disciplines of judo and kendo. Gozo Shioda Sensei achieved the rank of 3rd degree black belt in judo under his fathers instruction as a child and teenager.
The Yoshinkan Aikido style has a greater emphasis on the self-defense aspect of the aikido and little attention to the spiritual development as emphasized by Ueshiba O’Sensei. Gozo Shioda has been quoted as saying that the best defense you can take in life is to surround yourself with virtue, so the development of one's character was still of importance to Sensei Shioda.
Today Yoshinkan Aikido is spread throughout the world. Although Yoshinkan Aikido does not have the spiritual focus as O’Sensei developed it is still a defensive art. Aggression is not taught and training is always focused on not causing your partner any injury.
The humbo dojo (headquarters) of Yoshinkan Aikido is in Tokyo, Japan and it is governed by the Aikido Yoshinkai Federation. All of our ranks from 3rd kyu and up are registered with the humbo dojo in Japan.
Technical Distinctions of Aikido
Aikido is about blending with the attackers energy. The attackers energy is used against them. It is either turned back onto them often resulting in a pin or joint lock, or it is redirected away from their target and the attacker is thrown out of harms way.
To accomplish aikido it does not require great strength. Gozo Shioda Sensei was only 5’2” and weighed less than 110 lbs, yet he was a very powerful force.
Yoshinkan Aikido has been used to train the riot police in Japan for many years. They adopted it because of its technical expertise to be able to subdue an attack quickly without the need to cause unnecessary harm or injury.
Many women take part in the study of Aikido because it is not strength dependent. A small woman is very capable at defending against an attack from a large man when Aikido technique is applied effectively.