In the following article I hope to show that the roots of present day AIKIDO lie in a rich tapestry of highly developed techniques. These techniques have been developed and proven on the battlefield in combat where the loser invariably does not survive.
I also will discuss some of the motives that may be responsible for the development of AIKIDO away from the battlefield techniques, towards internal defensive techniques. It is not my intention to suggest that this development is bad or wrong it is however a common criticism that AIKIDO is purely defensive. My argument is that the AIKIDO syllabus is less well rounded than it could or should be, like having YIN without YANG.
AIKIDO can trace its roots back one thousand years, to YOSHIMITSU MINAMOTO the founder of the TADEKA clan and direct ancestor of TADEKA SOKAKU. KTADEKA the master of DAITO RYU AIKIJUJUTSU and teacher of UESHIBA MORIHEI spent much of the middle of his life touring Japan proving his art against the foremost martial artists of his day.
TAKEDA AIKIJUJUTSU developed on the battlefield from actual combat and was considered so powerful as to be kept secret from low class SAMURAI and retainers. The range of techniques numbered some 2000 odd offensive and defensive moves many of which would be recognisable to AIKIDOKA today.
O-SENSEI UESHIBA studied the arts of combat including TAKEDA DAITO RYU AIKIJUJUTSU in which he received a teaching certificate before studying the OMOTO-KYO religion with DEGUCHI ONISABURO its founder. DEGUCHI taught that all life is sacred and denounced war, this caused him to be targeted and harshly treated during World War II by the establishment in Japan.
The Japanese always considered filial and family loyalty to be more important than the individual and were barbaric in their treatment of the lower classes, foreigners and prisoners.
When the war was over, the Japanese people were fearful and expected the same treatment at the hands of the Americans as the prisoners of war had suffered in Japanese camps. Instead the Americans helped them to rebuild the nation, for which the Japanese were profoundly grateful.
During this period the traditional martial arts were banned by the Americans as being excessively militaristic and had to survive underground for many years and at that time it was thought they might be lost to the nation.
It was at this time that the BUDO taught by O-SENSEI UESHIBA changed. Instead of a combat effective martial system, it how became martial self-defence for enlightenment and the techniques themselves changed, much of the offensive attacking moves were abandoned, or altered to be defensive in nature.
How much these changes were due to the religious influence of DEGUCHI ONASABURO and how much they were due to the need to adapt the style to be acceptable to the American powers is not known, what is known however is that the new AIKIDO was one of the first martial arts to be endorsed by the occupation forces.
Nothing exists in a vacuum and martial arts exist no less in real life. It is my opinion that given his spiritual background, and that society was fuming its back on the old ways under American influence, he felt the old arts had little relevance to the needs of modem civilised life.
It is difficult today to understand how profound this change in emphasis was from AIKIBUDO to AIKIDO, we can only conjecture. It is a matter of record however that before the change the UESHIBA DOJO was called the HELL DOJO and serious injuries were commonplace, whereas today we can look back on decades of injury free practice.
In. recent months I have read much of a seemingly irresolvable debate concerned with whether or not AIKIDO is really effective. I also suspect that some DAN grades are actively exploring the techniques of other arts for a new perspective on AIKIDO technique.
I believe that to resolve this debate and gain new insight into our art and perhaps bring back the YANG, we need only to rediscover this BUDO of UESHIBA, UESHIBA-HA AIKIBUDO and if this article serves any purpose, it stimulates research in this area.
Brian Morris Published 1993