The History of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido


Taken from the book “Aikido – A beginner’s Guide”

The History of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

1883 Morihei Ueshiba born December 14 in Tanabe, Kishu (Wakayama Prefecture). Father, Yoroku Ueshiba, mother, Yuki Itokawa

1890 Goes to a Shingon sect Buddhist temple (Jizodera) to study Confucian and Buddhist scripture.

1897 Attends Tanabe Prefecture Middle School.

1899? Leaves Tanabe Prefecture Middle School and goes to Yoshida Abacus Institute.

1900? Graduates and goes to work for theTanabe tax office as a land value assessor.

1902 Resigns from the tax office and in September moves to Tokyo to open a stationery store. Briefly studies Tenjin Shin’yo-ryu Jujutsu and Kenjutsu. Marries Hatsu Itokawa (b. 1881) a distant relative, in Tanabe.

1903 Joined 37th Army Infantry Regiment (4th Division) in Osaka.

1904 Sent to front as corporal in Russo-Japanese War. Returns as sergeant. During this time, attends Masakatsu Nakai’s dojo in Sakai (Goto School of Yagyu-ryu jujutsu).

1907 Discharged from Japanese army, returns to Tanabe. Studies Kodokan judo from Kiyoichi Takagi. Awarded certificate from Goto School (Yagyu-ryu Jujutsu).

1910 Brief visit to Hokkaido. First daughter born (Matsuko).

1912 Becomes leader of the Kishu group, consisting of fifty-four households (80+ people). In March they leave Tanabe for Hokkaido. They arrive in May and settle at Shirataki, near village of Yobetsu, to start a farming community.

1915 Meets Sokaku Takeda (Daito-ryu jujitsu) at Hisada Inn in Engaru.

1917 The Shirataki community completely destroyed by fire, May 23. First son, Takemori, born in July.

1918 Elected as town councillor in Kamiyubetsu village, June 1918_April 1919.

1919 Leaves Hokkaido in December due to father’s illness. Transfers land and property over to Sokaku Takeda. Meets Onisaburo Deguchi of Omoto religion in Ayabe, Kyoto Prefecture. Stays in Ayabe until December 28th.

1920 Father (Yoroku) dies on January 2, aged 76. Returns to Tanabe then relocates with his family to Ayabe (HQ of Omoto religion). Builds “Ueshiba Juku” dojo. Second son, Kuniharu born in August. Eldest son Takemori, dies in August aged 3. Second son, Kuniharu dies in September aged 1.

1921 On February 11, authorities clamp down on sect and arrest several people including Onisaburo. Third son born (Kisshomaru, but birth name Koetsu) in June.

1922 Mother, Yuki, dies. Sokaku Takeda visits Ayabe along with family to teach, staying from approx April 28 to September 15th. Awarded “Kyoji dairi” (teaching assistant) certificate from Takeda (September). Ueshiba’s martial arts principles become known as Ueshiba-ryu aiki-bujutsu.

1924 Secretly leaves Ayabe on February 13th for Mongolia with Onisaburo Deguchi with concept of establishing a utopian community. The party, led by Onisaburo Deguchi, including Ueshiba, is captured and held prisoner by the Chinese military for plotting the overthrow of the government. Released after a short internment through intervention of Japanese consulate and returns to Japan. Ueshiba teaches at the Ueshiba Academy and works on the Tennodaira farm. Becomes fascinated by sojutsu (spear technique). Ueshiba reflects on his Mongolian experiences particularly facing death under gunfire. He found that he ‘could see flashes of light indicating the path of oncoming bullets’. From here on he frequently encountered situations where he felt manifestations of a spiritual force.

1925 In spring, Ueshiba is challenged by a young naval officer and master of Kendo. He defeats him without actually fighting because he could sense the direction in which the blow would fall before the officers wooden sword could strike. Immediately after this encounter, Ueshiba goes to wash at a well, and experiences “a complete serenity of body and spirit”. At the same time “the unity of the universe and the self ” became clear to him. It was at this time that Ueshiba changed the name of his art to Aiki-budo.

1925 Performs demonstration in Tokyo for former Prime Minister Gombei Yamamoto.

1926 In spring, Ueshiba is invited to return to Tokyo by Admiral Takeshita, where teaches at the Imperial Court and at the Imperial Household Ministry. In the summer, Ueshiba returns to Ayabe ill with an intestinal disorder.

1927 Moves to Tokyo with entire family. Establishes temporary dojo in billiard room of the Shimazu mansion in Shiba, Shirogane in Sarumachi.

1928 Moves to Shiba, Tsunamachi, site of temporary dojo.

1929 Moves with family to Shiba (near sengaku temple), Kuruma-cho, sets up temporary dojo.

1930 Moves to Shimo-Ochiai in Mejirodai. In October, Jigoro Kano of Judo observes demonstration by Ueshiba in Mejiro dojo and dispatches several students from Kodokan, including Minoru Mochizuki and Jiro Takeda, to study. Ueshiba is visited by Major-General Makoto Miura, who is sceptical and only comes to defeat Ueshiba. However Miura is impressed and changes his mind. At Miura’s request, Ueshiba becomes an instructor at the Toyama Military Academy.

1931 Dedication of eighty mat aiki-budo dojo inaugurated as the Kobukan dojo in Ushigome, Wakamatsu-cho. This becomes known as “hell dojo” because of the intense training.

1932 Budo Sen’yokai (Society for the Promotion of Martial Arts) is established.

1933 Ueshiba becomes president of Budo Sen’yokai. Technical manual “Budo Renshu” published. Takeda Dojo established in Hyogo Prefecture.

1935 Film documentary of Aikido Budo made in Osaka. This is still the only known pre-war film of Morihei Ueshiba

1939 Invited to instruct in Manchuria. Fights ex sumo wrestler Tenryu and pins him with one finger.

1940 Attends martial arts demonstration in Manchuria commemorating 2600th anniversary of Japan. Aiki-budo becomes official curriculum subject at police academy. On April 30th Kobukan is granted status as an incorporated foundation by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

1941 Aiki-budo is assimilated into the Butokukai (a government body uniting all martial arts under one organisation). Gives demonstration at Sainenkan dojo on imperial grounds for members of the imperial family. Teaches at military police academy. Invited to Manchuria to instruct during University Martial Arts week. Becomes martial arts advisor for Shimbuden and Kenkoku universities in Manchuria. The name AIKIDO first comes into use.

1942 Name “Aikido” becomes official and is registered with Ministry of Education. Invited to Manchuria as representative of Japanese martial arts to attend Manchuria-Japanese Exchange Martial Arts demo’s in commemoration of 10th anniversary of Manchurian Independence (August). Moves to Iwama, Ibaraki Prefecture. Kisshomaru Ueshiba becomes Director of Kobukai Foundation.

1943 Aiki Shrine built in Iwama.

1945 Kobukai Foundation ceases activity due to post-war ban on martial arts. Iwama dojo completed.

1948 Hombu Dojo moves to Iwama, office opened in Tokyo. Kisshomaru Ueshiba becomes Director of Aikikai Foundation.

1949 Regular practice resumes at Tokyo dojo.

1954 Hombu Dojo moves back to Tokyo from Iwama and takes the title “Aikikai Foundation: The Hombu Dojo of Aikido”.

1955 Travels to Osaka for several weeks to instruct in dojo of Bansen Tanaka.

1956 Several foreign ambassadors invited to public exhibition.

1958 U.S. television documentary “Rendezvous with Adventure” filmed

1960 Receives Medal of Honour with Purple Ribbon from Emperor Hirohito and the Japanese government

1961 Invited to Hawaii by Hawaii Aikikai (February). TV documentary made by NHK company. All-Japan Student Aikido Federation established with Ueshiba as president.

1963 First All-Japan Aikido Demonstration (October).

1964 Receives Order of the Rising Sun, 4th Class, as Founder of Aikido.

1967 March 14, new Hombu Dojo building begins construction.

1968 January 12, new Hombu Dojo completed.

1969 Gives final demonstration January 15th at Kagami Biraki celebration. Dies April 26th. Ashes buried at Kozanji, Tanabe. Strands of hair preserved at Iwama, Kumano Dojo, Ayabe and Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Made honorary citizen of Tanabe and Iwama. Wife, Hatsu, dies in June.

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3 Responses to The History of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido

  1. Anonymous says:

    Great post – very useful indeed! ;0)

  2. kaicevy says:

    In October, Jigoro Kano of Judo observes demonstration by Ueshiba in Mejiro dojo and dispatches several students from Kodokan, including Minoru Mochizuki and Jiro Takeda, to study

  3. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting. The "hell dojo" had it's name in the extensive pre-war use of atemi. And there were some pretty nasty judoka and kendoka/kenshi studying under Ueshiba at the time.

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