Monday, February 25

A Brief History of Aikido

Aikido was founded by Uyeshiba Morihei, (1883-1969). Although at first sickly and preferring to stay indoors to read, he realized the importance of being physically strong after his father was beat up by supporters of a rival politician.

At nineteen he joined the army, serving in the Russo-Japan war with honors. He displayed an uncanny ability to dodge bullets- he said he could sense when a bullet was coming even before it was fired. After the war he resigned and returned to married life and farming

Later he learned Daito-ryu Aiki-jujutsu considered the forerunner of aikido, from Sokaku Takeda. He studied for a month, earning the minimum teaching requirements of 118 basic techniques. Like most martial arts, aiki-jujutsu was passed secretly from one generation to another and taught only to high ranking samurai for hundreds of years.

"The way of the sword is over; from now on make these marvelous techniques known everywhere.” His teacher told him.

Morihei had an epiphany in 1925 when a visiting Kendo instructor wished to test his reputation, such challenges were commonplace, the loser becoming the winner's student. Relying on his sixth sense "A flash of light indicated the direction of the attack. " he easily avoided the fencers wooden sword. Later, while resting in his garden, he suddenly felt bathed in a divine light, the ground quaked as a golden spirit entered his body. The barrier between the spiritual and the material worlds dissolved.

"The Aikido which I'm doing is a path that builds people, a way of forging and tempering the body and spirit. It is not a way that injures others, nor is it one that wields against them the sword of evil. I humbly ask that you also give deep thought to these considerations... In true budo there is no enemy. True budo is the work of love. It is not fighting or killing. Rather it gives life and fosters all things; it is the task of generation and perfection. In love, the protection of all is uppermost, and without love nothing can be. Indeed the "Way" of Aiki is a manifestation of love. "

Morihei had many students who went on to create their own brand of Aikido. His son Kisshomaru inherited the work at the Aikikai foundation Morihei started in Tokyo. Tomiki Genji created a competitive form while Koichi Tohei formed the International Ki society which stresses the uses of Ki .

Koichi Tohei was born in 1920. Like Morihei he was a sickly child who set about improving his health with martial arts training. After graduating from Keio University he was drafted and served in WW II in China. After returning to Japan he continued training in Aikido as well as misogi, a vigorous form of meditation and chanting, kendo (fencing) and yoga. Tohei became the chief instructor and introduced aikido to America ( in Hawaii) in 1953. He eventually received the highest rank of tenth dan in 1969 from Osensei.

In 1974 he established the Ki Society to teach ki-aikido and kiatsu. This branch of aikido differed from what Morihei taught with it’s strong emphasis on the use of ki.

“What I learned from Ueshiba Sensei was not technique but the true secret of Aikido, non-dissension; not to resist your opponent’s strength but to use it.” Tohei sensei explained in an interview with William Reed.

Today his son Senichi heads the organization. The head of the Northwest Ki Federation, Calvin Tabata, an 8th dan, has trained for more than 40 years and spent considerable time training closely with Tohei Sensei.

No comments: