Takemusu Aiki–Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido (2)

Takemusu Aiki is a series of lectures by Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. These talks were transcribed and edited by Hideo Takahashi of the Byakko Shinkokai (see interview in AJ115) and originally published in Japanese in 1976 as Takemusu Aiki. The importance of these lectures as the primary source of reliable material on the spiritual views of Morihei Ueshiba cannot be overstated.

Readers wishing to plumb the depths of the philosophy of the founder will face a challenge when exploring these texts. The symbology and metaphors employed by O-Sensei originate from Shinto texts such as the Kojiki and are, moreover, influenced by the Omoto religion and its co-founder Onisaburo Deguchi. Also abundant are references to the kotodama, a Shinto belief system incorporated into the Omoto religion that holds that primordial vibrations before letters and sounds have an intrinsic value capable of influencing physical reality. The meanings of many passages are obscure and therefore we have often resorted to the use of footnotes in an effort to assist the motivated reader in navigating the difficult text. The extensive use of footnotes will necessarily oblige the reader to refer to previous issues of the magazine and we apologize in advance for this unavoidable inconvenience.

I would like to sincerely thank Sonoko Tanaka for her diligent efforts in rendering the Japanese into comprehensible English and for researching the material used in the footnotes. — Editor

I. Aikido is the Way of the principle of the eternal, unchanging system of the Universe.


Aikido is the Way of the principle of the eternal, unchanging system of the Universe. The Great Emptiness was created before the birth of the Universal “SU” voice, the One Original Source (Ichigen), our parent God. Life is the history of the acts of God since then, since the ancient age of deities of our country, and the practices of aikido originate in this history. My aikido is a Way to perform ascetic practices guided by Divine Providence, while expressing the significance of the Divine Sword (matsurugi) and being a manifestation of the sword itself. I regard it as the true martial art (bujutsu). The workings of the Universe are called “takemusu aiki,” and are born from the One Original Source, and unify water and fire, that is, the Breath of Heaven and the Breath of Earth, in order to produce one unified breath.

I would like to explain what this means. When the soul and body bestowed upon me interact with each other as an inseparable union through the workings of “SU” and “U”, I produce the voices “A, O, U, E, I” from the bottom of my abdomen letting them emanate from my physical mouth. This form is exactly the same as the manifestation of the frictional actions produced by the movements of water and fire, that is, the interactions of the two dieties, Takami Musubi and Kami Musubi (see Takemusu Aiki in AJ116), when they dance while ascending spirally to the right and descending spirally to the left.

If we polish and perfect kotodama, the spirit given to each one of us and which is our true nature, all explanations concerning every combination of all things and the wisdom to understand the true state of the Great Creation of this world will be given to us. Moreover, we will also be given the honor of using the “Balls of Michihiru” (Michihiru no Tama)1 according to the Kojiki (the ancient Japanese chronicle), a treasure of our nation, consulting God with the divining sticks (Ame Tsukuri no Kannagi) of Heaven, Fire, Water and Earth, offering abundant things at Oki in Chikura2 in expiation of our sins, and dedicating ourselves to God.

These Balls of Michihiru are given to each one of us in order to accomplish our own missions and works. We, human beings, also continue to preserve our lives thanks to these Balls of Michihiru.

Aikido is a true martial art and is manifested in all martial arts that have thus far come into the world, and in the workings of the Universe, that is, the core of the Original Source of aikido. It is firmly rooted and especially expressed in the actions of the two deities, Izanagi no Mikoto and Izanami no Mikoto (see AJ116), when they gave birth to islands and deities, that is, the conspicuous workings of the interaction between fire and water. In other words, the interaction between fire and water are the workings of Ame no Minaka Nushi (see AJ116), and are a manifestation of the Divine Will. Therefore, the One Original Source gave birth to the Two Original Sources. The workings of each Source is an expression of the Divine Will and a manifestation of the complex and subtle interaction between Heaven and Earth, that is, the Life of the Universe, the Breath of Heaven and Earth. No matter what kind of body it has and no matter how small it is, there is nothing that is not a manifestation of the Divine Will. Everything is the Life of the Universe.

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