The Japanese martial art of aikido (“way to unify with your ki”)was founded by Morihei Uyeshiba in 1942. (Ki means “life force.”) Morihei Uyeshiba practiced tenjin shinyo-ryu jujutsu with Tozawa Tokusaburo in 1901, but his true martial calling began in 1911 when he learned daito-ryu aikijujutsu under Takeda Sokaku on Hokkaido island in Japan. As Morihei Uyeshiba replaced linear approaches to techniques and striking vital points with softer, more circular movements, he developed a more spiritual outlook on life under Onisaburo Deguchi and his Omoto-kyo religion.
Three events lead to Morihei Uyeshiba’s new philosophy for aikido. In 1925, while unarmed, he defeated a navy officer who attacked him with a bokken (wooden sword). Following the fight, Morihei Uyeshiba incorporated the basic hand-guard position from kendo by mimicking the way kendo practitioners hold a sword. While practicing misogi (Shinto purification rituals, like standing under waterfalls) in 1940, his martial knowledge became vehicles for wisdom, virtue and life. In 1942 (during World War II), Morihei Uyeshiba had a vision of the “Great Spirit of Peace” prophesying that the warrior’s way is not about killing but about peace, love and preserving life, which are the spiritual and philosophical tenets of today’s aikido. It’s also essential to cultivate one’s ki (in Chinese chi or qi) and learn how to redirect your opponents’ ki against them.