Tag Archives: takemusu

Drinking wine with O-Sensei

Aikido Founder Morihei Ueshiba in front of the Shinden in IwamaNote the mitsudomoe design on the drum to his left.
If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you read Stan Pranin’s article “O-Sensei’s Spiritual Writings: Where did they really come from?” – it’s an important piece, and will lend some background to the rest of this post. Actually, most of this post consists of some thoughts I had after reading that article again.To summarize from Stan Pranin’s article, there are two main sources for post-war materials from Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei  –  "Takemusu Aiki" and "Aiki Shinzui". The first is the transcription of a series of lectures by O-Sensei for publication in the Byakko Shinko Kai ("White Light Society") newsletter. The second is also composed of transcriptions of lectures given by O-Sensei – this time the transcriptions were done by the Aikikai for publication in the "Aikido Shimbun" newsletters published by Aikikai hombu dojo.

Aikido and the Floating Bridge of Heaven

The Gods Izanagi and Izanami on the Floating Bridge of Heaven from the series "An Illustrated History of Japan" by Utagawa Hiroshige, circa 1847-1852Honolulu Academy of Arts
The "Floating Bridge of Heaven" ("Ame no Uki Hashi") is an important part of the Japanese creation myth. According to the Kojiki ("A Record of Ancient Affairs"), the first gods summoned two divine beings into existence – the male essence Izanagi ("The Male who Invites" /  伊邪那岐) and the female essence Izanami ("The Female who Invites" /  伊邪那美命). These two beings were given the task of creating the first land masses on earth.  Taking the jeweled spear they were given, the two divine beings stood on the Floating Bridge of Heaven and stirred the sea with the jeweled spear, creating a vortex. Drops of salty water falling from the spear formed the first island, whereupon the divine beings descended from the Bridge to the earth below.There’s a lot more (the Kojiki is a great tale, one of the world’s first soap operas), but for now let’s get back to how this relates to…Aikido.

Aikido without Peace or Harmony

Cover of "Budo Hiketsu Aiki no Jutsu" ("Secret Methods of Budo Aiki no Jutsu")Published in Meiji Year 33 (1900)
Aikido is often known as the "Art of Peace" or "The Way of Harmony". Sometimes it is described as "The Way of Harmonizing Ki". "Do" of course, is "The Way", and the word "Ki" is so common these days that it can probably stand just as it is. Then we have "Ai" – which means neither peace nor harmony.