Morihei Ueshiba (December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969) founded Aikido as a martial art. He is often called O-Sensei which literally means the great teacher.
Morihei Ueshiba was born in the Nishinotani village, Tanabe City, Wakayama prefecture in a family of the landowner. He was doing farming, religion from childhood and studied different martial arts during the youth. In 1907, after serving the Japanese Army during the Russo-Japanese War, he moved to Hokkaido where he met and studied deeply from Sokaku Takeda, a founder of the Daito Ryu Aiki Jujutsu which soon became a precursor to a modern Aikido.
Ueshiba claimed Takeda’s system progressively and became a travel assistant for a teacher after a while but was forced to come back home where his father was ill. Morihei’s road home went through the Ayabe where he met Onisaburo Deguchi, the Omoto Kyo religion spiritual leader. “There is nothing to worry about with your father.” said Deguchi and upon the arriving in Tanabe Morihei Ueshiba learned about the father’s death.
He then came back to Ayabe to become a full-time student and was involved so much that even moved his family including old mother to the Omoto grounds. A Dojo was constructed soon for the Ueshiba to teach a group. A close relationship with Onisaburo Deguchi introduced Morihei to the important people of Japan.
In 1921 Kisshomaru Ueshiba was born. Also, the Omoto Kyo compound was raided by the Japanese authorities, Deguchi arrested and Morihei was left to take care. A few years later Onisaburo with a group headed to Mongolia with a mission to establish a religious kingdom. This time they were arrested by the Chinese and sent back to Japan. During this expedition, Ueshiba was given the alias Moritaka which he continued to use intermittently for the rest of his life.
The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.
Upon coming back to Ayabe, Morihei Ueshiba continued the spiritual training. He often went to mountains, made Misogi which is a part of Shinto religion. His fame as a martial artist became wider and people came to challenge him. He was also invited to demonstrate his skills in Tokyo by the Admiral Isamu Takeshita in 1925.
In 1927 Ueshiba Sensei found himself moving to Tokyo for living with all of his family. This move allowed him to teach the Aikido to politicians, military heads and members of the Imperial household. Making steps forward made him come to the Kodokan, a place we call Hombu Dojo these days.
From 1935 O-Sensei has been purchasing land in the Iwama city, Ibaraki prefecture and in 1942 he established the Aiki Shrine and Aiki Shuren Dojo, known as Iwama Dojo these days. As the martial arts were prohibited by the government, Kobukan in Tokyo was used as a refugee center but Iwama remained as a secret place to continue the studies.
Only in 1948, with the creation of the Aiki Foundation, the Tokyo Dojo was re-opened. Kisshomaru Ueshiba took the most initiative over the Aikido and the founder was able to concentrate more on farming, meditation and calligraphy. He never quit teaching and promoting the art and had proud students learning from till the last breath.