Aikido History

The Feudal Age and the Samurai
The Samurai began as peasant-farmers who fought for their lords as well as they could when the occasion arose. This was similar to the peasant-farmer armies that could be raised in feudal Europe. As conflict became more frequent, it became necessary to train armed groups(Samurai or Bushi) to protect the respective boundaries. Their status in society was established by the Minamoto family in 1192. This military government (the Shogunate) strongly encouraged austerity and the pursuit of martial arts and related disciplines for the Samurai class. These studies were eventually rigorously codified and called Bushido.Way of the Samurai.

The Development of Unarmed Techniques and Aiki-jujitsu Varying battlefield situations and the technical requirements of feudal warfare led to the establishment of various Styles or ryu of unarmed combat, controlled by, and passed down through the large powerful families. One of these was Aiki-jujitsu.

Bushido, the code of the Samurai, was used to encourage the development of combat techniques and to cultivate qualities of justice, benevolence, politeness and honor; and probably above all supreme loyalty to one's lord and clan.

It was during this period of almost constant regional warfare, local independence and feudal isolation that the refinement of unarmed combat forms flourished and thereby developed into very numerous and distinctive ryu or styles.

Aiki-jujitsu and Its Social Background
During the peaceful Tokugawa period, the Samurai, as a class saw little combat, but continued to practice and refine the various martial arts of kenjutsu, iaijutsu bajutsu and jujitsu.

As the martial arts (and all of Japanese culture) became strongly influenced by Buddhist concepts, the fighting arts were transformed from combat techniques (Bugei) into "ways" (Budo), including self-discipline, self-perfection, and philosophy. As a result, the dimensions of the martial arts expanded beyond the simple objective of killing an enemy to include the aspects of everyday living.

After the decline of the Samurai class, martial "techniques" became martial "ways" and a great emphasis was placed upon the study of Budo as a means of generating the moral strength necessary to build a strong and vital society. The Bushi, as a class, virtually disappeared under a new constitution that proclaimed all classes equal, but the essence of Bushido, cultivated for many centuries, continued to play an important part in the daily lives of the Japanese. This remains true today.

Budo, being less combative and more concerned with spiritual discipline by which one elevates oneself mentally and physically, were more attractive to the common people and were readily taken up by all classes, and people of every social strata. Accordingly, kenjutsu became kendo, iaijutsu became iaido, jojutsu became jodo and jujutsu became judo.

As a young man, Morihei Ueshiba (1882-1968), had an unusual interest in the martial arts, philosophy, and religion. The environment of his youth, one of religious discipline and tradition, had an enormous effect on the course of his life.

In the year 1898, Ueshiba left his home village of Tanabe outside Osaka and traveled to Tokyo, seeking instruction in the martial arts. He actively investigated dozens of arts, but was eventually drawn to specialize in three: the sword style known as Yagyu Shin-Kage-ryu, the staff style known as Hozoin-ryu, and Tenjin Shinyo jujutsu. In 1905 Ueshiba met Sokaku Takeda, head of the Takeda family, and began his study of Daito Ryu Aiki-jujitsu. In addition, he continued to practice the other arts he had learned in Tokyo, particularly kenjutsu and jojutsu. After four years of intense training Ueshiba was granted his masters licence in Aiki-Jujitsu and in 1925 Ueshiba organized his own style of Aiki-jujitsu, largely for his own spiritual and physical development.

To contribute to the evolution of martial "arts" to "ways" . Bugei to Budo . Ueshiba diligently applied himself to the reworking of the killing techniques he had been taught, and synthesized them into a form that taught harmony and reconciliation rather than violence and death. Ueshiba proclaimed that the true Budo (the way of the warrior) was the way of the peaceful reconciliation. He dedicated himself to the design of an art that would teach technical prowess and strength, and commitment to the self-discipline needed for personal growth. He dubbed this new "modern martial art" Aikido . which means "The Way Of Harmony".

Source:Island Aikido