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Founder of Aikido (39): The Reestablishment of The Aikikai Foundation

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #68 (August 1985)

(The following is a chapter summary printed with the kind permission of Mr. Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Aikido Doshu, based on the original Japanese text published in 1977.)

August 15, 1945, the day the war ended, was truly a shock for the Japanese. We were fully convinced that this was the end of aikido. However, the Founder was silently at work on the Aiki-En farm in Iwama. Whenever I spoke to him, he just said, “aikido won’t be destroyed. It has a bright future before it.” Although he became much thinner as a result of the serious illness he suffered and which even endangered his life, he showed no sign of weakness when breaking the ground with a hoe. By his manner he seemed to laugh at those who were panic-stricken.

Iwama and the Aiki Shrine

The Aiki Shrine was nearly completed when the war broke out. The Founder looked very satisfied and said, “Now, the inner shrine of aiki has been completed.” He looked relieved as if years of burden were lifted from his shoulders.

“First, we will establish the true purpose of aikido by creating a link between man and god. This shrine represents the starting point for the attainment of this goal. What is necessary now is to commune with nature to our utmost,” were the words the Founder murmured as if to convince himself.

At the beginning in Iwama, there was only an outdoor dojo in the corner of the farm. However, since there were many requests from students in the neighborhood and Tokyo, a practice dojo of 36 tsubo (about 560 square feet) was built. This dojo, the predecessor of the Ibaraki Dojo (now headed by Morihiro Saito Sensei), was probably completed in the summer of 1945, the year the war ended, and its existence turned out to be a significant factor during the confusion following the war. When the war ended, the Tokyo dojo was opened up to some thirty families who were burnt out during the air raids. Thus, the seat of aikido was temporarily transferred to this dojo in Iwama (about 3 years).

Transfer of Headquarters to Iwama

This partially unavoidable transfer of control offered several advantages. Apart from my personal elation over being able to live with the Founder for the first time in many years, we could for example continue our training as much as we liked without worrying about the eyes of the US Occupation Army. This situation also played a major role in sustaining the line of family succession in aikido because many eager young people from neighboring villages gathered together in Iwama. It also provided those old deshi who were demobilized from the battlefront with a place of recreation and relaxation. It helped them to raise their morale in order to re-enter into society.

Things in Iwama proceeded this way for about two years after the war. However, gradually this group came to want to practice regularly even if in only on a modest scale. Also, they were prepared to do anything to startup Aikido again. Although I thought it might be a bit premature, I was urged on by both old and young students. I decided to revive aikido in the forefront of the budo movement.

Revival of Aikido

I occasionally went to the 12-mat room in the dojo in Tokyo from Iwama and started to prepare a draft for the necessary paperwork. I asked Mr. Kinya Fujita and Mr. Katsuzo Nishi for their advice and also discussed the matter with the new students entering the dojo. I kept the Founder informed of the situation whenever I returned to Iwama. However, he would tell me to do whatever I liked and always adopted the attitude of an observer. According to what my mother told me in her later years, the Founder appeared very pleased that his son was at last beginning to take aikido seriously.

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