Cherish the Heart and Spirit of the Founder
Happy New Year!
As there are so many different affairs and incidents happening these days, I feel really happy to be able to celebrate the New Year. Aikikai was able to conclude all big events successfully and will try to flourish even more this year.
Because this year is the 40th anniversary of Aikido's founder Morihei Ueshiba's death, I would like to ask you to recall once again the founder's heart and spirit. The founder said: "Real martial arts are not fighting techniques, which rely fruitlessly on brute strength in order to oppose other people and contest weakness and strength, defeat and victory. Real martial arts mean to mingle each and every day harmoniously with your comrades and to always try to polish yourself by working hard together. Real martial arts are therefore nothing else than a way to seek the perfection of one's own personality." Moreover, by reaching this conclusion, he professed: "Aiki, the harmony through cosmic energy, means Aiki, the love through cosmic energy!"
Or else he explained: "In Aikido it must never happen that you are the one who attacks. To attack is the best proof that you are not yet confident of your own certain victory. That means nothing else than that you are already sensing your own moral and spiritual inferiority and defeat."
Since this Aikido spirit was inherited from the founder by the next generation 40 years went by. During this time, Aikido spread throughout the world through the exertions of the second Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba. And even now, as the third generation succeeded the circle of the Aikido community is still widening, as many Aikido devotees in over 90 different countries strive to learn Aikido's techniques and spirit through daily practice. I believe, only because Aikido is a true martial art it survived the times until today and still appeals to the people.
Even though Aikido is a way of training your body and mind, it might appear necessary to change our way of thinking according to the present times, because times and trends are certainly changing. But that is not as simple as saying it. And what we must not forget are the founder's ideals. Anything that would upset the essence of the founder's ideals of Aikido must by no means happen.
Since the International Aikido Federation was founded in 1976, 50 countries became members up to the present. As many people from different countries, different ethnic backgrounds and different religions convene and confer amidst a variety of different conceptions and ways of thinking, I very much feel the tides heading for internationalization. Therefore, I am extraordinarily happy that we could receive so many participants not only from Japan, but also from many foreign countries at the 10th International Aikido Congress, which was held in the city of Tanabe, Wakayama prefecture, the birthplace of the founder Morihei Ueshiba. However, no matter how much internationalization might be called for or how far it might proceed, the essence and nature of Aikido must not be distorted or changed. I think the more Aikido spreads the more we have to protect the ideals of Aikido's founder as stated above.
I am always striving to strengthen our foundation inside Japan in order to be able to contribute to international friendship by presenting Aikido to the world with the conviction that Aikido is a true martial art Japan can be proud of. I think, the International Aikido Congress in Tanabe was really an event, where genuine international exchange and friendship occurred, and not only between Aikido practitioners, but also between the citizens of Tanabe and the many participants from overseas. Prior to the Congress, a city-partnership was concluded between the four cities remembered in connection with the founder. The sealing ceremony of this partnership took place in February 2008 in the course of the "7th Visit to Morihei Ueshiba's Hometown" event. This, too, is very pleasing, as it keeps alive the founder's ideal of the "Spirit of Harmony and Unity".
The present digital age might be a little bit uncomfortable for us analogue people, but that is just why I strongly believe that this "Spirit of Harmony and Unity", which unites people and their hearts, is the most important aspect of Aikido, which must be protected by all means.
This year let us all practice cheerfully together once more.
Doshu Moriteru Ueshiba