Founder of Aikido.
Called O-Sensei (great teacher), he created a defensive style, represented by circular movements using joint locks and projections, with the goal to unite people and promote peace.
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) was born on 14 december 1883 in Tanabe. Being short (5'2", or 156 cm, tall) and with a weak constitution, he was encouraged by his father to practice swimming and Sumo when he was ten.
He started to study Jujutsu in 1901 and bayonet combat in the Army when he attended the Russo-Japanese war in Manchuria.
Back in Japan, he became a disciple of Sokatu Takeda, master of Daito school of Aiki-Jujutsu.
Adept of the pacific Omoto Kyo sect, he followed the master Onisaburo Deguchi in Mongolia in 1924 in an unsuccessful attempt to create an utopian community.
Returning again in Japan, Morihei Ueshiba experienced a spiritual awakening
in 1925 after he defeated a naval officer who attacked him with a bokken
(wooden katana), without hurting him. He then walked to his garden and
in his own words:
"I felt that the universe suddenly quaked and that the golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body and changed it into a golden one. At the same time, my mind and body became light. I was able to understand God, the Creator of the universe. At that moment I was enlightened. The source of Budo (martial arts) is God's love, the spirit of loving protection for all beings. Endless tears of Joy streamed down my cheeks."
Morihei Ueshiba began to develop a new art that went by several names (Aiki Jujutsu, Ueshiba-Ryu, Asahi-Ryu, Aikubudo, and finally Aikido in 1942).
In 1942, he opened a dojo in Iwana, where he taught until his death in 1969.
Because of its peaceful character, Aikido was the first martial art to be authorized in 1948 after the prohibition of martial arts by the American occupation authorities.
Morihei Ueshiba was replaced as Doshu (Leader) by his son Kishamaru Ueshiba. After Kishamaru death in 1999, his grandson Moriteru Ueshiba succeeded him.