Aikido was founded by Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969) in Tokyo, Japan in 1942. He born in a rural area of Japan near Osaka and left home in his late teens for Tokyo to seek martial arts instruction. Ueshiba was heavily influenced by Daito Ryu AikiJu-Jitsu – a traditional martial art that dates back 1200 years, as well as several styles of Japanese fencing (Kenjutsu), spearfighting (Yarijutsu), and by the religion Omotokyo. Prior to 1942, Ueshiba called his art “Aikibudo” or “Aikinomichi.”
Largely because of his deep interest in Omotokyo, Ueshiba attempted to cultivate a “spirit of loving protection for all things” rather than techniques for achieving physical domination over others. He organized Aikido, his own system, and established the principle of nonresistance, the non-violent way of self defense. The name Aikido means “The Way of Harmony with the Ki” (life force) and stresses the harmony between mind, body, and spirit.
He then began teaching selected pupils, some from noble families, others from the armed forces. He continued his instruction until World War II when he returned to the countryside. Witnessing his countrymen turn their interests from spiritual to material matters, Ueshiba eventually decided that he could encourage a rebirth of the spirit through the medium of Aikido. With that thought, he selected his finest students and sent them to spread Aikido throughout the world.
Sensei Michael Wirth – Kinokawa Founder
Sensei Michael Wirth, founder of Aikido Kinokawa, has over thirty years of Aikido experience. Before establishing his own organization in 1991, Sensei Wirth studied with Sensei Maruyama. Sensei Wirth believes in the realistic application of Aikido as a martial art and as a path for spiritual growth.
“A History of Kinokawa ryu Aikido”
by Hanshi Michael Wirth
“My Aikido training began in Sensei Maruyama’s Arch St. Dojo in April, 1972. I was then a young man of 24 with some Tae Kwon Do training (from S. Henry Chi in Manhattan) and many street fights in my past. The grace and power I witnessed in those first few hours at the Dojo drew me into the way of Aikido.
“In those early days we spoke little and trained very hard. There were only a few students who endured for long.
“Maruyama Sensei was a student of Koichi Tohei Sensei and O’Sensei [Morihei Ueshiba]. By 1971, two years after O’Sensei’s death, divisions of viewpoint regarding who was to lead Aikido and how it was to be conveyed and directed lead to a split between Tohei and Kisshomaru Ueshiba, the Founder’s son. Maruyama Sensei aligned himself with Sensei Tohei, and so it was that our practice in the 1970s reflected both the early style and training of O’Sensei as preserved and conveyed by Aikikai and the flowing late life Aikido of O’Sensei presented by Tohei.
“In 1980 Sensei Maruyama moved to Nagoya Japan, leaving senior students to run his two Philadelphia dojos. The next few years brought a slow but steady growth to these schools and the blossoming of a division between Tohei and Maruyama. By 1985, these two extraordinary men were no longer working together.
“Maruyama founded Kokikai as a vehicle for Aikido fundamentally and stylistically true to Tohei’s. As Kokikai continued to grow, I opened Kokikai dojos in Reading, Pottstown, and Norristown. During this time, differences between Sensei Maruyama’s Kokikai and my style were becoming apparent. By 1991, my schools were operating independently from the Kokikai organization, and they were given the name Kinokawa.”
Sensei Wirth’s Recommendations
- Practice every moment;
- Don’t hesitate to use the principles and techniques of Aikido in the defense of family and friends, country or strangers in need if this is what you are called upon to do;
- Live each moment with a relaxed mind and body, neither clinging to nor avoiding whatever arises.