Morihei Ueshiba, known by aikido students as O-Sensei ("Great Teacher"), was born on December 14, 1883 in Tanabe City, Japan. As a young man he mastered many martial arts both empty hand styles and weapons. In 1912, he and his wife, Hatsu, moved to Hokkaido where he began studying Daito-ryu jujitsu under the guidance of Sokaku Takeda Sensei. O-Sensei studied intensively, becoming quite technically proficient; however, his spiritual unrest mounted as his awareness of the futility of a path based on victory over others came to light. Transformed by his spiritual insights, O-Sensei’s technical mastery evolved into aikido, a martial art of refinement and astonishing power, fundamentally different from those that preceded it.
In 1927, O-Sensei moved to Tokyo where he founded his first dojo, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo, which still exists today as the Aikido World Headquarters. On April 26, 1969, O-Sensei passed away, leaving his son, Kisshomaru Ueshiba, to become aikido doshu ("aikido headmaster") of the Aikikai World Headquarters. Kisshomaru Ueshiba Doshu was in turn succeeded by his son and O-Sensei’s grandson, Moriteru Ueshiba Doshu in January 1999, who to this day continues to spread the art of aikido throughout the world
The word aikido is composed of three Japanese characters: ai, meaning harmony; ki, spirit or energy; and do, the path or the way. Thus, aikido is “the way to harmony with life energy". In this regard, O-Sensei created a martial art in which the preservation of one’s attacker is equally important as one’s own self defense.
Aikido is more than the study of physical techniques; attitude, behavior and respect are also stressed. The basic movements of aikido are circular in nature. One trains to harmonize with, rather than confront, aggression.
As a traditional Japanese budo, aikido maintains the qualities of martial spirit, effective technique and intense training. This, coupled with the premise of mutual respect and caring, and the important balance between attacker and defender, embodies the spirit of O-Sensei’s desire for universal peace.