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Founder of Aikido (42): Passing On

by Kisshomaru Ueshiba

Aiki News #71 (June 1986)

This is the concluding chapter summary of the biography of Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido, written by his son and successor, Kisshomaru Ueshiba. We wish to thank Doshu sincerely for his kind permission to allow us to undertake and publish these translations.

In April of 1959 the publication of the Aikido Shimbun (Aikido Newspaper) began. When the first issue appeared the Founder was in an unusually good mood and jokingly encouraged us to make the newspaper become as big as the Asahi or Yomiuri publications. The Founder published his oral Dowa and Dobun serially each month until just before his death. They left a deep impression on the minds of readers.

At the same time he trained his students on his own initiative. We would forget his strictness which made it difficult to approach him when watching the Founder teach a student young enough to be his grandson. He would refer to himself as “This old man…” or make people laugh by saying, “This is my precious beard. Don’t treat it roughly”. However, whenever he gave an explanatory demonstration he was always quite severe.

The dojos the Founder most often visited around this period were those of Mr. Seiseki Abe (Suita, Osaka) and that of Mr. Michio Hikitsuchi (Shingu, Wakayama). Mr. Abe is a famous high school calligraphy teacher (See AIKI NEWS No. 45). The Founder began studying calligraphy with him about 1963 and stayed with him very often. O-Sensei called the Kumano Juku Dojo of Mr. Hikitsuchi his own dojo and stayed there very frequently beginning around 1955. The Founder had Mr. Hikitsuchi put up a plate bearing his name until his death. It still remains there today.

On February 28, 1961 the Founder flew to Hawaii in order to participate in the opening ceremony of the main dojo in Honolulu. At his sending-off party he gave the following speech:

“I am going to Hawaii in order to build “a silver bridge”. At present I am trying to construct “a golden bridge” in Japan but from now on I want to do the same abroad. What I mean to say is that I want to build a bridge between the east and west through aikido. Aikido builds bridges in all countries and unites the world through harmony and love….”

The trip for the promotion of aikido throughout Hawaii lasted about 40 days (he returned to Japan on April 11th) and left a strong impression on the people of the islands.

On November 3, 1964, the Founder was decorated in recognition of “his services in the establishment of aikido”. Around this period he began to spend more time in Tokyo than in Iwama. Although he still wished to do farming work in Iwama, I think that he made up his mind and accepted the trend of the times with respect to the development of aikido.

On December 15, 1967, a modern, three-storey building was completed for the dojo. About 37 years had passed since the Founder had built the “Kobukan” dojo on this site. “Well done,” were the words he spoke on this occasion and they were the only words of praise I ever received from the Founder in his lifetime.

A celebration of the completion of the new dojo was held on January 12, 1968 and the Founder spoke the following words.

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