Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, known to thousands of students of Aikido throughout the world as O-Sensei (Great Teacher). Even as a young man, Morihei Ueshiba was an extraordinary martial artist; a master of the sword, the staff, the spear, as well as the art of ju-jitsu. But O-Sensei also had a strong spiritual drive, and brooded over the futility of a path based on victory over others.
Leading a life of austerity and rigorous training, O-Sensei struggled with this dilemma. He delved deeply into the study of religion, especially Shinto, (Japan’s native religion of nature worship). The dilemma was resolved in a moment of profound awakening. Transformed by his spiritual insights, Ueshiba transmuted his technical mastery of traditional martial arts into a new martial art. The art of Aikido was one that was fundamentally different from those that preceded it. It was also one of refinement and astonishing power.
"The secret of Aikido," he wrote, "is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself."
O-Sensei maintained that Budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in ourselves and bring peace to the world, "To make the heart of the universe one's own heart." O-Sensei taught that true awareness is not grasped by intellect alone. "This is not mere theory," he said. "You must practice it."
About the Aikidosphere
The Aikidosphere reflects the teachings of perhaps the most prominent group of Aikido Shihan (master teachers) living outside Japan today. This group consists of the North American Shihankai Senseis: Yoshimitsu Yamada, Akira Tohei, T.K. Chiba, Mitsunari Kanai, Seiichi Sugano, Yutaka Kurita, Yukio Kawahara and Ichiro Shibata and Nobuyoshi Tamura in Europe. (We will refer to this group as the "Shihankai".)
These Shihan, most of whom were uchi deshi (live-in disciples) of O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, were in close contact with him during the height of his creative development of Aikido. They studied and trained under his direction and in the company of many of the greatest exponents of the art, including Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Kisaburo Osawa, Hiroshi Tada, Sadateru Arikawa and Seigo Yamaguchi Senseis.
Beginning in the early 1960's they left Japan and moved abroad to teach the Aikido they had learned from O-Sensei. They became the pioneers and driving forces behind the tremendous international growth of Aikido throughout North and South America, Western and Eastern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Africa and the Middle East. In spite of their physical separation, they have maintained a close association with Aikikai Hombu Dojo and each other for a period of over 40 years.
These Shihan are the bearers of a unique and important part of O-Sensei's legacy. As a group they profoundly reflect the creatively individual nature of Aikido, having each cultivated their own understanding of Aikido from their personal experiences as direct students of O-Sensei. This is reflected in their daily lives, in their own research and in their teachings of Aikido's most fundamental principles and practices. In spite of their individualities, they share a deep devotion to Aikido's spiritual and technical integrity and an unwavering sense of purpose in their never-ending study of this art.
The Aikidosphere has been created to be an information center that taps into this invaluable resource: the art of Aikido as learned and experienced by these Shihan. It is our intention, as their students and as recipients of their legacy, to make the Aikidosphere a place where their accumulated knowledge and insight is made available and is shared with all those interested in the art of Aikido. We also want the Aikidosphere to be an interactive forum, where knowledge, viewpoints and ideas can be exchanged, and where understanding and communication can expand. In short, we want the Aikidosphere to be a unique resource for the continuing growth of this special lineage of O-Sensei's Aikido.
When we began the AikidoSphere's predecessor site, Aikido Online, things were different: for one thing, the "Shihankai" members were with us. Now many of them have passed. This seems to require a change in how we approach the task of preserving their legacy. Proceeding down this path will be the objective of the AikidoSphere.