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.
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”.
A TRAINING DAY IN YOSHINKAN AIKIDO
All who take Aikido will find a special atmosphere in the Dojo, (training hall); were both formality and discipline are emphasized, but in a relaxed manner. Many of the instructor’s directions are spoken in Japanese. This is to keep the student in touch with the origins of Aikido and its founders. This is also a reminder of the traditions of the Samurai where it all began.
Classes begin and end in a similar manner. Students kneel in a line and prepare themselves for the upcoming class, they bow to the front of the dojo, then to the teacher. The class then proceeds with exercises, basic movements and breakfalls. The exercises are designed to develop stamina, improve flexibility and prepare the body for movement. The basic movements teach the basis of Yoshinkan Aikido techniques. Breakfalls are essential to strong Aikido techniques. These breakfalls are practiced many times, so that they become second nature, and may be executed in a dynamic but safe manner.
At this point the techniques of Aikido are taught. A technique is first demonstrated by the Instructor, then practiced by the students. Student works with each another, so that they can explore the technique together. Beginners are often partnered with advanced students, which is a useful exercise for students at all levels of expertise. The Instructor is there for guidance, to answer questions and to provide individual instruction. It has been found that repetition for both beginners and advanced students is the only way to learn Aikido. In time Aikido manifests in the transitive for the student to harmonize with society.