To understand Morihei Ueshiba, the man known as O Sensei, one needs to examine contradictions in his life. This is something that most people, enraptured in reverie, do not do, and this is sad. For it is contradiction that we isolate the crucibles of existence, and the truth of what makes a man.
The man who founded Aikido was sick and weakly as a youngster, and lived a privileged existence. His father sought to make him stronger by telling tales tales of his Samurai grandfather. Did the manly tales cause him to grow stronger…or encourage him to regard dreams as inspiration?
O Sensei studied briefly with many before he adhered to the teachings of Takeda Sokaku. Was he a flake waiting for a boulder to roll over him and pick him up? Or was there sufficient substance in his soul that he was a seeker par excellence?
Early martial arts training included much attention on Atemi, or Striking points. Linear approaches to techniques varied from linear to circular to linear, at certain points of the founders life. Eventually techniques became more focused on kokyu-nage, or Breath Throws, and this is often considered the pure aikido.
The third most important man in Morihei’s life was Onisaburo Degushi, the leader of the omoto-kyu religion. Interestingly, this religion, considered a woman’s religion, was sometimes involved in political upheaval. One can sincerely ask the question whether the techniques of Aikido are female in nature.
Spiritual awareness can be considered to be at the core of Aikido. One can easily make the point that the art evolved over the years in response to the growing spirituality of Ueshiba. Often held up as the pivotal experience of his life, the founder’s firm conviction that the universe is love obviously effected his technical interpretation of martial techniques.
Though sickly as a youth, O Sensei became known for his immense strength. Eventually, age deprived him of all strength but that which he had accrued in the spirit. Once again, we have a firm clue to the changing technique in the Master’s Art.
Having made the above points, having compared and contrasted the man behind one of the world’s most significant martial arts, one is left with certain conclusions. Straight line or curved, muscles vs harmony, even male to female, there is a significance of evolution which should be studied, and can aid any student’s understanding of this most mystical art. In conclusion, to understand Morihei Ueshiba, the man known as O Sensei, one must analyze beyond the white washed accounts of his life, and know that he was earthy, real, and possessed of immortal character.
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