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Founder of Aikido (25): The Founder Becomes a Golden Body

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #54 (April 1983)

We would like to thank Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba for his kind permission to publish these chapter summaries.

After coming back from their adventures in Mongolia, Morihei returned to a life of budo and farming. Mr. Itsuo Okuni recalled this about the founder and his personality at that time. “His manners were a lot gentler than before. His behavior had become full of consideration for the feelings of others and an understanding of their situation. It looked as though his attitude was passive, but still I felt that he was always taking the initiative. So I feared him even more than before.”

For the next year and a half, until he moved to Tokyo, mysterious phenomena regularly happened to the founder. For example, every morning the founder’s living room would sway rather radically, and the Shinto altar rumbled with a clattering sound. Around nine o’clock every night there was a stirring, as if something were running headlong from the top of the mountain, behind the house.

These events may have been the results of natural phenomena, but at any rate their occurrence was testified to by his wife as well, so something must have actually been happening. Certainly, the founder’s whole body and his five senses were even sharper than ever before. Six months of being face-to-face with death had brought him to the state of “being perfectly clear and serene of mind”. Therefore signs or indications that normal people can’t see or hear were perceived by the founder because he had reached that state.

In The Founder of Aikido: Morihei Ueshiba, author Kanemoto Sunadomari mentions that the founder appeared to have been experiencing divinely-inspired activities.

Morihei’s training at that time was as though he was fighting a life-or-death struggle. He had one of his students use a real sword and told the student, “Try to cut me for real.” Haruji Yoshida, recalls, “I tried to cut him with all my might, but he received my sword with his wooden weapon and the next second I was being stabbed instead. It was really unbelievable…

Sometimes during practice he would leap about 1.5 meters and no one could see his hands or feet. Some people explained it by saying, “That is when the power of his ki has reached its peak and he becomes divinely possessed.”

The founder’s students from that period are unanimous in their description of this state: “He was able to manifest his power thoroughly,” Then it happened. In 1925, a navy officer who was famous for his skill as a kendo instructor paid a visit. This navy officer was probably quite confident that he was going to beat the founder. I understand he was a very skillful person.

The founder said, “Fine. Let’s start, you with a wooden sword and me empty-handed. Come, try to hit me any way you like.” The officer appeared slightly offended by how small the founder looked when they faced off. He must have seen an opening for the next instant he struck sharply but the founder had swiftly turned his body with perfect finesse. The kendo man then took a more cautious stance and seeing a good opportunity, he again gave a quick blow but his sword came nowhere near the founder. Now the officer was dead serious. He launched a breathless series of lightning-like strikes, but each time Morihei turned out of the line of attack in an easy and lightly flowing manner. At the end, the officer collapsed, out of breath, on the floor.

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