spiritual writings | retreat center directory

You're invited to visit our sister site DanJoseph.com, a resource site
featuring articles on spirituality, psychology, and A Course in Miracles.

Home | Writings | General | George Leonard | Aikido part 4 | next   

Excerpted from The Way of Aikido by George Leonard. Copyright © 1999 by George Leonard. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"[Aikido] is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family."

George Leonard, The Way of Aikido, Part 4

Sokaku was a grim and severe teacher who had killed a number of opponents in no-holds-barred duels. Nevertheless, Morihei was so impressed by his prowess that he gave himself totally to Sokaku, building a dojo and house for him on his own property and becoming, in effect, his servant so that he could receive instruction two hours a day. This difficult warrior continued following Morihei after he returned from Hokkaido. He was persuaded to leave only by an exorbitant "farewell gift" from Morihei. Still, Daito Ryu aikijutsu was to become a strong influence on the creation of O Sensei's aikido.

Never daunted in his quest, Morihei Ueshiba then gave himself heart and soul to another charismatic but questionable character, Onisaburo Deguchi, founder and guru of Ornoto-Kyo, a cultlike religion that at one time had several million followers in Japan. In 1924, Onisaburo, Morihei, and a few other Omoto-Kyo followers left Japan bound on a secret expedition to the Chinese mainland. Their plan was to raise an army, foment a revolution, and take over Mongolia for Japan. After several battles, Onisaburolís group was captured, put in irons, and threatened with execution. The Chinese authorities, unwilling to provoke the Japanese, government, finally issued a reprieve and the conspirators were released into the custody of the local Japanese consul.

Back in Japan, Morehei only intensified his physical training, his quest for spiritual enlightenment. Then, in the spring of 1925, at age forty-two, he experienced a life-changing vision. He had just finished a strenuous sword duel with a naval officer, during which it seemed he could see a beam of light showing him just where his opponent was going to strike next. He went to his garden, where he would draw water from the well to wash the sweat from his face and hands. Suddenly, he began to tremble and found it impossible to move. The earth seemed to shake and everything around him turned to gold--the well, the nearby persimmon tree, his own body. At that moment he heard the words, "I am the universe." All barriers between the material and spiritual worlds fell away, and Morihei was struck by the realization that the true destiny of the martial arts was not contention and domination but love.

Morihei Ueshiba's quest was not over; there would be more zigzags along the way. But he had found the basic course he would follow for the rest of his life. And this course would eventually lead to his revolutionary transfiguration of the martial arts. The Japanese term jutsu means "combat form," while do means "path" or "way of life." Aikijutsu, with its hard, linear movements, would evolve into aikido, with its flowing, circular movements. And aikido would become, in O Sensei's words, "not a technique, to fight with or defeat the enemy. It is the way to reconcile the world and make human beings one family."

next ->