History of Aikido
Aikido is a traditional Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba in the 20th century. Often referred to as ‘O-Sensei’, Ueshiba studied various forms of martial arts during his youth. He developed Aikido primarily throughout the late 1920s as a culmination of the other martial arts he had studied. As a deeply spiritual and philosophical person, Ueshiba saw martial arts as a form of spiritual training — Aikido was created as a way to bring people together during some of Japan’s most violent times. Following the Second World War, the movement began to gather mass attention and grow internationally. Morihei Ueshiba passed away in 1969, making his son Kosshomaru Ueshiba the second Doshu (master). He passed in 1999, having successfully continued his father’s mission of spreading the martial art all over the world. His son, Moriteru Ueshiba, was named the third Doshu and continues to work towards O-sensei’s dream.
Style of Martial Art
Aikido differs vastly from other martial arts. It is a complex system of different techniques including throwing, joint locking, striking and pinning combined with traditional weapons such as swords and staffs. In a way, Aikido is not just a martial art but also a philosophy – a Budo (martial way) rather than a Bujutsu (martial technique). It is the culmination of centuries of Japanese martial arts knowledge and Ueshiba’s own extensive studies, both spiritual and physical. Influenced by Chinese and Indian meditative disciplines, Aikido puts emphasis on integrity and honour. It must always be practiced with compassion and courage, in the name of principle and duty and as a way for self-development. Often, Aikido is about neutralising your opponent’s attack and avoiding violence with expertise and technique. O-Sensei accurately described the crux of Aikido in one simple phrase; “True victory is victory over the self.”
Styles of Aikido
There are many styles of Aikido, though only about five are considered major. Iwama ryu is one of the most popular forms of Aikido, as it was the style taught by Morihei Ueshiba himself. This includes the study of traditional Japanese weapons as well as empty-handed combat. Aikikai is the largest Aikido organisation in the world, and as an umbrella organisation encompasses a variety of styles and methods. Alternatively, the Yoshikai specialises in Yoshinkan-style, a style known for precision and strictness common amongst the Japanese police force. Yoseikan style, developed by O-Sensei’s student Minoru Mochizuki is similar in that it includes elements of Aikido combined with Karate, Judo and other arts. Another variation is Shodokan Aikido, which uses competition in training to sharpen focus and improve performance.
Aikido in Australia
Over the past century, Aikido has spread all over the world, and Australia is no exception. Arthur Moorshead, who had studied Aikido in France and England, is said to be the first to have brought the martial art to Australia. He moved to Melbourne in 1963 where he began conducting Aikido classes. In 1965, Seiichi Sugan migrated to Sydney and was made the official representative of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. He worked closely with Moorshead and, over time, a series of Aikikai affiliated dojos were built across Australia. Over time, the interest in the martial art continued to grow and more dojos and different styles were introduced over the country.