Aikido is a Japanese Martial Art founded by Morihei Ueshiba. In his younger years, Ueshiba served in the Russo-Japanese War and was an avid martial artist. He studied Jujutsu, sword arts, spear arts, bayonet fighting, and many more. However, Ueshiba was more than just a fighter. He was also a very religious man with deep faith and philosophical thought. Ueshiba studied Shingon Buddhism, Zen, and Shintoism. Ueshiba also became a devotee to the religion known as Oomoto-Kyo, which was a religion founded after the Meiji Restoration which taught that their religion would bring about world peace. At least, that was their later doctrine. They believed in living in the old feudal style village system with rigorous farming, religious practice, and martial arts. During this time, Ueshiba taught Jujutsu to the group.
Forgive me for cutting my explanations short, but much further explanation would require referring back to my Bachelor’s Thesis and my research. However, I always encourage that one conducts one’s own research and forms one’s own opinions but feel free to ask me any questions and I will answer to the best of my ability!
Cutting to the chase, Ueshiba created Aikido as a means to create world peace through love and harmony. Aikido was more than just a nonviolent self defense system, it was a way of life and a religion for many. Ueshiba always felt that Aikido, even in instances of self defense should always be executed like a father benevolently, yet firmly, leading his child to the right path. Aikido as taught by Ueshiba, also referred to as O-Sensei (Great Teacher), consisted of martial arts, weapons practice (though none of the weapons were intended to harm, merely to defend against a weapon), prayer, learning, and ritual.
At this point, I will no what no student of philosophy should ever do: For the sake of the readers of this blog, I will reduce Ueshiba’s philosophies to the very basics.
Basically: War is Hell! Humans are filled with strife and constantly harm one another. We must stop this. By worshiping the gods (or God) and loving others, we can create within ourselves a heart which does not strive against others, but wishes to aid others. When we practice martial arts which harm others, we hurt ourselves. There will be times when others attack us and we can only defend ourselves, but we must never harm another living thing! Hence Aikido was born: A method to create peace, harmony, and love by ending conflict without violence.
As for my inward reflections on Ueshiba’s philosophy, I largely agree with him. Though I am a Christian and Ueshiba was a devout follower of Oomoto-Kyo, there is still much I have learned from him and much anyone can learn. I am a firm believer in settling conflict without harming others, even when it comes to defending oneself. However, as much as I would love to be able to wrestle someone to the ground without hurting them and make them no longer want to fight, that is not a very realistic view of the world. Someone who genuinely wishes to hurt me may come at me again with a weapon when I let them go. It is to that ends that, unarmed or with a weapon, I never want to hurt any person, but the day may come when I have to in order to defend my loved ones or myself.
It is obvious that in this modern age, guns are the standard for self defense weapons and I love guns, but I am not so paranoid that I rely on a gun to feel safe. I hope someday to get back into martial arts so I can defend myself unarmed or with a weapon that is not a firearm because while guns are needed when someone is aiming a gun at me, but guns run out of ammo. Blades and clubs, however, do not. That is one of the many reasons I like swords. I can still defend myself with a sword or even just a wooden pole used like a sword.
Many people find my outlook a bit crazy, but think about it: In a survival situation, would you want five guns and no bullets, or two guns and a sword or axe for backup?
I also love swords for their aesthetic beauty. This and the fact that I see them as a symbol of honor and skill are all reasons I love swords. My practice of the sword takes on a spiritual quality and I see my sword practice as a spiritual and character building practice. It’s also just a whole world of fun!