Welcome to the World of Morihei Ueshiba on Film…
What we see here is a rather unstructured demonstration of sword blending forms. It may appear that uke is initiating the sword attacks. But what is actually happening is Morihei is giving verbal cues such as… “Strike”… “thrust”. These oral commands and O-Sensei’s body language are what actually trigger the attacks. He is in control of the direction and timing of the sword interaction.
Now notice that Morihei’s actions consist of counterstrikes to the head, thrusts to the throat, and parrying uke’s sword. The end result is that uke is unable to mount a decisive attack. He is thwarted in his every move. These are important lessons that can be applied to our empty-handed practice…
Morihei Ueshiba, the Founder of Aikido, had a storied career in martial arts that lasted more than 60 years. He lived in epic times having seen action in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) and participated in the training of young soldiers bound for the battlefield in the World War II era. These intense experiences together with the devastation suffered in the wake of Japan’s defeat shaped his thinking about the true purpose of fighting arts. Morihei began to view the martial arts as instruments of peace. It was a message of harmony and conflict resolution that he promoted in his teachings in the postwar era.
Luckily, a number of films and audio recordings of the Founder have survived. We have gathered together an extensive collection of more than 30 films and interviews with Morihei Ueshiba that will give present-day practitioners of aikido and intimate glimpse into the teachings and techniques of this great master.
Of all of the surviving documents of the Founder, perhaps the most important is the 1935 film of Morihei shot at the Asahi News company in Osaka. This film was shot in sound in 16mm format and runs some 19 minutes. Morihei demonstrates many suwariwaza, hanza handachi (hanmi handachi), tachiwaza, multiple attacks, and sword and juken techniques. His partners are Shigemi Yonekawa and Tsutomu Yukawa. There are brief appearances by Takuma Hisa and Rinjiro Shirata.
Most of the techniques preserved in this film are advanced and are performed in a flowing style building up to a spectacular multiple attack finale! One is struck by the modernity of many of the techniques and the “ki no nagare” like style of execution. The visual and sound impact of this film is tremendous and it provides a window in time to the wonderful techniques of Morihei from that era.
The Morihei Ueshiba Founder’s Course is O-Sensei’s video legacy starting in 1935 and covering a span of 34 years until just before his passing in 1969. Besides the more than 30 films of the Founder, the course includes three rare audio interviews of O-Sensei with complete subtitles. These are wonderfully intimate conversations with the Founder that convey his bright personality, playfulness and sincerity. In addition, the course includes a series of video documentaries by Stanley Pranin on the life of the Founder and the spread of his art worldwide.