Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba, Ueshiba Sensei, or O’Sensei (Great Teacher) as he is called, who spend many arduous years training in ‘budo’ (Japanese martial arts). He also delved deeply into religions, studying Buddhism, Shinto, and Oomoto Kyo. Although he become very strong and won many matches, he was troubled with the idea that winning at someone else’s expense was not really winning. He came to realize that true victory is not winning over others, but winning over the discord within oneself. He modified the movements he had learned over the years to expresss this realization. As a result, Aikido was born as a way to divert harm to one’s self while not inflicting permanent injury on an aggressor. As you study Aikido, it becomes clear that it is not only an effective means of self-defense, but truly a way to understand life through the study of the energy of the universe.
In Japanese, the word Aikido is made up of three kanji, or characters. The first of these three kanji is “AI,” which means to meet, to come together, or to harmonize. The second kanji is “KI,” which means energy, spirit, mind, and (in a larger context) the spirit of the universe. The third and last character is “DO,” which means way. This signifies that the study of Aikido does not merely involve self-defense techniques, it also includes a path to positive character-building ideals which a person can incorporate into his or her life. Together, these three Japanese kanji, AI-KI-DO, mean “the way of harmonizing with the spirit of the universe.”