Morihei began teaching Aiki-Jujitsu under licence of Sokaku Takeda between 1920 and 1930. He also cemented his mastery of the art of fighting with the Japanese sword (Kenjutsu) and the wooden staff (Jojutsu or Jodo). As time progressed Morihei began to make changes to the way he practiced and taught the art and gradually began to grow away from Sokaku.
Naming of the art changed several times as well before finally settling as Aikido. Early Aikido was more aggressive with many strikes (atemi) incorporated into the techniques but as he grew more skilled the Aikido became softer and more akin to what we practice today. Aikido is a relatively new martial art in itself and is progressing and refining to this day.
Aikido’s foundation dojo, The Hombu dojo in Tokyo is generally considered the home of Aikido. Morihei’s moved from Tokyo back to his rural roots and retirement to Iwama. Throughout, his students had developed under his tutorage, each becoming masters in the art. There came a point when he made the decision to gather them and he instructed them to go and teach Aikido as they had developed it. He remained teaching and training with his student Morihiro Saito, training in the more traditional Aikido that Morihei had developed. Morihei Ueshiba died on the 26th April 1969.
Morihei is now referred to by students of Aikido as O Sensei (Great Teacher). Aikido in its various forms is practiced throughout the world, but the core essence of what O Sensei conceived remains with us in our training today.
To define what people get from training in Aikido, if difficult, as each practioner could provide a different answer. These are examples of what it can do for you when you begin training in Aikido.
Aikido is practised by people of all faiths and religions with different beliefs and views from around the world. Some people actively seek a spiritual meaning from Aikido and there is a spiritual background associated with the art in the Japanese Shinto 'Way of the gods' religion. When you train, you will not be explicitly taught these aspects but they may develop within you should you to choose to follow this aspect.
Aikido teaches that there is no real separation between that which is body and that which is mind, and in subjecting our bodies to this precise discipline, we might eventually influence our minds for the good. It is possible to create an inner calm and balance that may be carried into our daily lives, helping us to become better and more effective people.
A pure budo 'Warrior spirit' comes with the unification of technique, body and heart. The budo, which will manifest itself, does not depend upon the technique, but rather upon the heart of the practitioner. The aim of Aikido is a kindness of heart expressed through this spirit of budo.