Still, at a minimum, millions of people are training aikido. Aritoshi Murashige standing back right What happens when we look at all the people who are studying misogi-no-gyo or Omoto kyo or Zen meditation? We can see from this that something that Ueshiba knew and had trained was the underlying basis for powering his misogi exercises. Those peers did not practice Omoto kyo nor misogi. What they did practice was exercises for Daito ryu aiki. The focus on techniques was a modern change instilled into what became Modern Aikido for the world.
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Many of our teachers often look up to this man they never met in order to justify not only technical, but also moral choices. However, what few people know or accept is the fact that Aikido, as it is practiced today around the world, owes not only to Morihei, but also to a large extent to his son Kisshomaru. In reality, Morihei has never really systematically taught to anyone a topic that would be worth an entire article and it is Kisshomaru whose task became to ensure that aikido could be appreciated and understood by the general public.
Without his work, it is likely that the majority of us would not know aikido today and that the art would either be practiced in a confidential manner, or disappeared entirely.
Ueshiba Morihei having relocated far from Tokyo during the middle of World War II, Kisshomaru had, in the midst of a very unfavorable period to take over from a genius father, but one whose character and life choices were far from easy to follow. Today I would like to tell you a bit more about the second Doshu of aikido and to review the extend of the work he has accomplished when succeeding to his father, hoping to make you understand the reason why he is rightfully regarded, in Japan and elsewhere, as the true father of aikido as we practice it today.
Given the close ties that his father holds with the political and military class, particularly within the ultra-nationalist circles,  Kisshomaru is ringside to witness the Japanese war effort. This experience and the harshness of postwar life will have a very important influence on his views as an adult. First row: Ueshiba Hatsu, Ueshiba Kisshomaru. Morihei adopts Nakakura in and gives him the name of Ueshiba Morihiro a relatively common practice in Japan, where the family of the bride adopts the husband.
It is only when Kisshomaru begins training intensively that he gradually comes to be considered as the future leader of the aikido world.
He is assisted in his duties by Hirai Minoru the founder of Korindo Aikido. This piece of information is essential to understand why many Daito-ryu teachers sometimes refer to their art in terms of aikido. The geopolitical situation is a reason given by the founder himself.
It will be necessary to secure positions elsewhere. Kisshomaru, you must hold your own to the end in the Hombu Dojo in Tokyo and defend it to the last to the death. Kisshomaru is 21 years old and even if American bombings do not start until , the war with the United States has been raging for several months following the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
The injunction by his father to keep the dojo at the peril of his life, and the implicit notion that the survival of aikido should take precedence over his own are a very heavy burden to carry for the young Ueshiba, one that he will only deposit that at his death. Kisshomaru, still a student, remains at his post as promised to his father. Towards the end of the war, he must take action several times to extinguish fires caused by U. It is thanks to the sacrifice of the young man that the dojo makes it through the bombings, while the majority of houses in the neighborhood Wakamatsu-cho are destroyed.
The last of the refugees will only leave the dojo in He resumes his studies somehow and receives his degree in Economics and Political Science from the prestigious Waseda University in He becomes aware of the fact that the exercise of power based on militarism and nationalism is a mistake, and he decides that aikido, both in its technical curriculum and spiritual message, can serve mainly as a bridge to bring nations together.
Importantly, it can also allow Japan to regain some of its lost pride by showing the world that his country can still produce good things. Given the unfavorable conditions, even Kisshomaru has to abandon Tokyo to settle in Iwama for three years, he manages from there the administrative affairs of aikido. Kisshomaru runs the first at and the last at The latter finds himself very satisfied, even if he never directly expresses it to his son.
During this period, the great post-war masters begin their apprenticeship under the direction of Ueshiba Kisshomaru and his collaborators. Thanks to the financial support of his employer, Kisshomaru gather enough money to finally renovate the roof of Hombu Dojo. The first of these is the Kuwamori Dojo,  which opens in January in Sakuradai. Starting from , O Sensei begins to visit Tokyo more frequently to give intensive courses for the deshi.
The First Foreign Students The handling of aikido matters by Kisshomaru opens the door of the dojo to non-Japanese practitioners. He decides to organize public demonstrations. This too must be fought over with his father, because until then, only the latter has the task of demonstrating aikido, and only to small groups of handpicked individuals.
However, understanding the need to expand and develop his art, he lets himself be convinced and he answers to Kisshomaru: Very well. Perhaps it is necessary to reach out to all levels of society. If it helps to clear the muddy stream, this old man will do his best to demonstrate the essence of aikido. I have already put you in charge. As long as you follow the path of helping society and helping humanity, I have no objection to what you propose.
Make use of this old man to help you reach your goals. In the late 60s, aikido counts over 2, black belts. Note that the majority of those who officially disseminate aikido abroad are students formed primarily under Ueshiba Kisshomaru in Tokyo. His first official trip leads him to Hawaii, Los Angeles, and San Francisco over the course of a journey of about three months, an almost unbelievable experience for this former penniless salaryman. From this date and until the end of his life, he regularly travels around the world.
A prolific author Kisshomaru is a man of letters and culture, and his scholarship serves as a vehicle to expand the message of aikido.
He completes his teaching on the tatami by an extensive editorial work. Kisshomaru is clearly the most comprehensive source of information available to us about both pre-and post-World War II eras and even though his sometimes criticized for his limited skills as a historian and some unavoidable biases,  the careful study of his work is a must if one wants to better understand the development of aikido. Kisshomaru writes a biography of Ueshiba Morihei in , which is still authoritative today.
The new Hombu Dojo, a three-floor concrete building an extension is added later opens on January 2, It harbors a total area of more than practice mats.
Alan Ruddock and Henry Kono in front of the Kobukan. Behind them are the plans for the future building of the Aikikai Hombu Dojo Death of Ueshiba Morihei A few days before his death, Ueshiba Morihei calls his main students to his bedside and says: Keep everyone together and support Kisshomaru.
Morihei is known to have never kicked anyone out   and Kisshomaru follows the same precept. This policy is also still valid under the direction of his son Moriteru and organizations who have left the fold Aikikai can gradually be reinstated later. The International Federation of Aikido is established in and Kisshomaru becomes its first lifetime president. Faced with the refusal of Kisshomaru to modify the curriculum, Tohei leaves the Aikikai in I will try to stick to the facts and most importantly, provide an explanation and context to the different choices that have been made.
We saw that Kisshomaru Ueshiba and his students are largely responsible for the dissemination of aikido after the war. After the war, O Sensei travels extensively and when he steps on the tatami, it is often unannounced and mainly to talk about his philosophy. Ueshiba Morihei taught if he ever really taught an art of war to a social and political elite within a culture of war. In this context, Kisshomaru understands that aikido is relevant because of its message of universal harmony and he decides to mainly present it as a vehicle for that.
To critics who oppose him the argument of quality before quantity, he responds that the positive potential of aikido is such that the message ought to be spread widely, and that as long as people have access to instruction, there will always be a few who reach an exceptional technical level.
Yet, criticizing Kisshomaru on this basis is to disregard the fact that Morihei, in his time, did exactly the same thing regarding what his own master, Takeda Sokaku, had taught him. It is also interesting to note that if you talk to some practitioners of Daito-ryu, you can hear exactly the same types of criticisms being expressed as those made against Kisshomaru, except that they are made against Morihei. Morihei has also changed his practice throughout his life, so much so that some of his pre-war students, including Mochizuki Minoru and Abe Tadashi, said that they no longer recognized themselves in the postwar aikido of the founder.
The Technique of Ueshiba Kisshomaru It is sometimes said that Kisshomaru has been chosen as Doshu for his administrative skills over his technical capabilities, but there is no evidence of this in the words of the founder. It is true that Kisshomaru is not the first choice of successor for Morihei, but one must keep in mind that when Morihei originally looks for a successor, Kisshomaru is very young 11 years old and he does not formally practice aikido yet, which de facto the rules him out from the list of possible candidates.
As a teacher, Kisshomaru understands that to transmit a body of knowledge, it is important to present it in a way that is coherent and understandable, and that is precisely what he sets out to do. Regarding the form, until , and even during a considerable period after that, father and son rigorously practice the same art.
Resolutely turned towards the future, he believes that the golden age of aikido is in its development. He explains that his purpose is beyond this, he wants to advance humanity. The Religion of Aikido For the reasons explained above, in spite of being very educated on the subject, Kisshomaru removes most of the religious [Shinto] aspect of aikido, especially the Kotodama, mainly due to the recuperation that was made of it by ultranationalists during the war,  but also probably in order to give aikido a more universal and exportable dimension.
People used to say that he was far from exhibiting the talent of his father, that he was in fact more of an administrator, or that he even had misrepresented the discipline of his father. Yet, it is an undeniable fact that most people who have told me this are themselves the students of people who have been taught mainly by Kisshomaru rather than Morihei. It was only later, when I moved to Japan, and got to meet actual former students of Kisshomaru, that I realized the tremendous amount of respect that practitioners who had known the second Doshu aikido held for him.
I think that anyone who knows a bit about the history of Aikido and its dissemination cannot but feel the same deep respect and gratitude towards Kisshomaru and his work, and this, whatever the affiliation or technical preferences. I hope this article helps a bit with that. Peter Goldsbury for the incredible work they have produced over the years and without which I could not have written this biography.
I would also like to sincerly thank them for providing me with helpful comments whenever I have a question. References Ueshiba, Kisshomaru Hozansha Publications Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Doshu Chronology. Official Website of the Aikikai Pranin, Stanley Aiki News
Kisshomaru was born in Ayabe, Kyoto prefecture as a fourth child of Morihei and Hatsu Ueshiba but only he and his sister survived. Been doing Kendo and Kenjutsu before started Aikido in with his father. Young Ueshiba was studying economics at Waseda University at the time and graduated in There was not much activity in the Dojo as the martial arts were prohibited in Japan during the war times and Hombu was used as a refugee center.