Aikido is a modern form of the martial arts that includes many traditions in one. It was developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883–1969), an exceptional Japanese martial artist whose background included the study of jujutsu, especially Daito-ryu aikijujutsu, sword fighting, and spear fighting. While these roots can be clearly recognized in modern-day aikido, Ueshiba (often called “O-Sensei,” the great teacher) continued to develop and innovate the art throughout his life, working particularly with ideas of directing energy and blending that emphasize the possibility of effective self-defense without the need for strength or force.
O-Sensei’s religious beliefs also contributed in important ways to the art he developed. O-Sensei joined the religious group Omotokyo in 1919, and he borrowed heavily from its philosophy and world-view as spiritual underpinnings for his martial art. To emphasize this, he changed the name of the art from aikibudo (“the warrior's path of harmony”) to aikido (“the path of harmony”) in 1942.
Mitsugi Saotome was a student of O-Sensei. He began his study of aikido with O-Sensei in 1955 and taught at the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, from 1960 to 1975. In 1975, he decided to leave Tokyo and come to the United States to continue teaching here in the U.S. He is currently the head of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba (ASU), an association of over 70 dojo. Baltimore Aikido is a member of this organization and follows Saotome shihan’s teaching. His style blends a strong basis in martial awareness and effectiveness with an interest in using that basis to explore the softer and gentler sides of aikido.
See our additional resources page for more information about the history of aikido and its different styles.