Aikido Has No End

Aikido’s founder, Morihei Ueshiba, was born in 1883 in the fishing and farming village of Tanabe, Japan. He was the only surviving son of a prosperous father and cultured mother who considered him their gift from heaven. His premature birth hindered his physical development; even when he was fully grown, he was little more than 5 feet tall.
His father, Yoroku Ueshiba, became concerned about the boy’s small and weak physique and encouraged him to engage in sumo wrestling, swimming and running. As the youth progressed in the sports, he began to realize his physical potential.
Other than mathematics and physics, classroom studies held little interest for the young Morihei Ueshiba. Morihei Ueshiba was a restless spirit in his younger days, charging from one occupation to the next, performing his duties easily but finding no interest in them. At the age of 18, he was drawn to the martial arts, and until his death, the arts continued to delight and nourish him.  Morihei Ueshiba quit his first and second jobs because they were too confining. When he became politically involved in helping local fishermen fight an oppressive new law, his councilman father lost patience. He gave his son some money and told him to find a career that suited him.
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In 1936 Morihei Ueshiba renamed his art aiki budo, and in 1942 he emerged with a mature, modified art—now officially called aikido. The new name is a combination of separate ideas: ai means harmony, ki means spirit or energy, and do means discipline.
In his classes, Morihei Ueshiba discouraged his students from mimicking his movements and forms. Instead, he wanted them to practice a form so many times that it became part of their being. “Learn and forget,” he would say. “Make the technique a part of your body before you move on.”
Through aikido, Morihei Ueshiba developed extraordinary self-defense skills. He could take down and pin opponents of much greater size. He could throw a dozen men simultaneously. He ordered his students to ambush him from eight directions and easily manipulated them to his advantage while his feet stayed within a circle barely encompassing them.
 “Aikido has no end,” he said before he died. “There’s just the beginning and further growth.” The founder of aikido may have passed on, but his art continues to thrive around the world.

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Morihei Ueshiba was born December 14, 1883. Ueshiba was a martial artist and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido; he is often referred to as “the founder” or “Great Teacher”. Aikido is a synthesis of Ueshiba’s martial studies, philosophy, and religious beliefs. Ueshiba’s goal was to create an art that practitioners could use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury.

Ueshiba developed aikido primarily during the late 1920s through the 1930s through the synthesis of the older martial arts that he had studied. From the end of the war until the 1960s, he worked to promote aikido throughout Japan and abroad. In his classes, Morihei Ueshiba discouraged his students from mimicking his movements and forms. Instead, he wanted them to practice a form so many times that it became part of their being. “Learn and forget,” he would say. “Make the technique a part of your body before you move on.” Ueshiba regularly practiced other spiritual and religious rites as well, and viewed his studies of aikido as part of this spiritual training. He died of cancer of the liver in 1969, he was 86. “Aikido has no end,” he said before he died. “There’s just the beginning and further growth.” The founder of aikido may have passed on, but his art continues to thrive around the world.

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