August 5, 2021

Ō Sensei

The Founder of Aikido

Ō Sensei
Photo credit: Aikido Yuishinkai UK
I want considerate people to listen to the voice of Aikido. It is not for correcting others; it is for correcting your own mind.

–Morihei Ueshiba (Ō Sensei)

Morihei Ueshiba, known as Ō sensei, was born in the modern-day Wakayama Prefecture of Japan on 14 December 1883. His initial interest for martial art perhaps stemmed from witnessing his father being beaten by a rival politician. He studied to become an accomplished student of Daitō-ryū Aiki-Jūjutsu under Master Sokaku Takeda, while opposing the use of martial arts for destructive purposes.

By the early 1930s, he had established his own school and style, which later came to be known as Aikido: the way of harmonising energy. On account of his great prowess as a martial artist and a teacher, he was (and still is) referred to as Ō-Sensei, which simply means “great teacher”. He is also known as Kaiso, which means “founder”.

During the Second World War, Ō-Sensei’s aversion towards all warfare formed the basis for Aikido  as a means to heal the illnesses of the modern world by reconnecting people with the true meaning of Bushidō (the Code of the Samurai): a tireless devotion to all life, everywhere. Hence, the philosophy behind Aikido remained one of healing and peace.

In the years following World War II, Ō-Sensei expanded his teaching to all and beyond the selected few Japanese students who were skilled in other martial, with the belief that  “everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow”. In due course, Ō-Sensei dispatched his apprentices (among them Chiba Sensei) to spread Aikido around the globe, telling them, “One day, this Art will be practiced by people all over the world!”

Even in his later days and deteriorating health, Ō-Sensei continued to train and remained committed to Aikido and the vision of a better world through the practice of the Art of Peace. He passed away on 26 April 1969, and was succeeded by his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei, who took the title Dōshu — “way master”, personal heir to the Founder as head of the Art. Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei passed away in 1999, and the founder’s grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba Sensei, took the title of Dōshu. It is expected that he will be succeeded as Dōshu by his son, Mitsuteru Ueshiba, who is referred to as Waka Sensei — “the younger teacher.”

cr: Ei Mei Kan