Aikido: Property of the Ueshiba Family, by Stanley Pranin

Current Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba with his father Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Second Doshu, at the Aiki Taisai in Iwama, c. 1990

Current Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba with his father Kisshomaru Ueshiba,
the Second Doshu, at the Aiki Taisai in Iwama, c. 1990

In answer to a question regarding the role played by Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in postwar aikido, Shizuo Imaizumi Sensei of New York City made the following comment:

“As Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei handled all daily matters both inside and outside the dojo, the role of O-Sensei seemed to me to be that of the symbol or spiritual figure of the Aikikai. He did whatever he wanted. His only concern was the future of aikido under the Ueshiba family as he was the kind of man who would follow the old ways. O-Sensei would often refer to the art as “Ueshiba-ke-no-aikido,” that is, “Ueshiba family aikido.” In the same way that the Shinkage-ryu or Itto-ryu sword schools belonged to the Yagyu and Ono family, O-Sensei believed that aikido should belong to the Ueshiba family as he himself was its founder. So O-Sensei believed that the Hombu Dojo should be controlled by the Ueshiba family. I think that Kisshomaru Ueshiba Sensei, as the founder’s son, and O-Sensei’s grandson Moriteru Ueshiba have firm control over the daily matters of the Aikikai in accordance with the wishes of the founder.”

Quoted from Aikido Journal #114, 1998, p. 10.

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969)

Imaizumi Sensei first entered the Aikikai in 1959 and, several years, later in 1964, became an instructor and close follower of Koichi Tohei. He continued in this capacity through 1974.

Many years ago, I heard a comment very similar to that of Imaizumi Sensei from Mariye Takahashi who was a student at the Aikikai in the early 1960s. She, too, referred to aikido as “Ueshiba family property.”

What, in concrete terms, does it mean to aikido practitioners today if we regard the art as the property of the Ueshiba family?

First of all, I think it would be safe to say that Morihei Ueshiba’s statements imply that it was his intention that aikido continue to develop according to his vision. It further implies that he trusted his son Kisshomaru–aikido’s Second Doshu–to carry on in his stead. By extension, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo may be regarded as the physical “home” of aikido, and the administrative and technical center of the art.

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