O’Sensei called the art that he developed during his time at the Iwama Dojo – Takemusu Aiki. The translation of this term is difficult enough, the precise meaning of this concept is more so. According to Saito Sensei:

In Iwama, O’Sensei explored Aikido by worshipping the Budo Guardian Spirits and praying every morning and evening. And so Takemusu Aikido was created. He said the former aikido was not the “true” aikido.  It may not be incorrect aikido, but this is what O’Sensei said. In Takemusu Aikido, bit by bit, new techniques appear spontaneously. This never stops, it is infinite like a spring. This is Takemusu. Therefore, for every technique, there is a basic form. It is necessary to learn these basics in their correct order to be able to understand the real aikido.

What is “takemusu aiki”

O’Sensei said that “Aikido is a divine truth which spells out a sophisticated implementation of Takemusu Aiki. Takemusu, as identified in Shinto literature, is the unsurpassed martial art of Japan. The art therefore proliferates a multitude of techniques freely as Divine Will sees fit.

At another time he said that: “Aikido is the martial art (bu) of truth; it is the work of love. It is the way to protect all living things of this world, that is, aikido is a compass that gives life to all things. It is the manifestation of takemusu that has given birth to all martial techniques that have so far been created. The martial arts born therefrom are the law to protect the growth of everything existing in the world in accordance with the law of life and growth of all nature.”

Takemusu is training to cultivate the ability to use gravitation.

(taken from Takemusu Aiki – Lectures of Morihei Ueshiba, transcribed and edited by Hideo Takahashi of the Byakko Shinkokai, see Aikido Journal #116 1999).

Aikido Styles

Although Aikido is of recent development, different instructors who trained with O’Sensei during his lifetime have gone off to form and promote their own “vision” of Aikido. Prominent among these individuals have been:

  • Kisshomaru Ueshiba the son of O’Sensei and second Doshu, led the Aikikai Hombu Dojo both in Japan and Internationally,
  • Gozo Shioda Sensei, of the so-called hard-style school of Yoshinkan Aikido,
  • Koichi Tohei Sensei of Shinshin Toitsu Aikido who emphasised the concept of “ki”,
  • Minoru Mochizuki Sensei of the eclectic, Yoseikan Aikido,
  • Kenji Tomiki Sensei of Tomiki Aikido who created the sports aikido system which includes competition,
  • Morihiro Saito Sensei started issuing a “Iwama ryu” grading certification particularly involving the teaching of the combined weapons and taijutsu system he learnt from O’Sensei, but out of allegiance he never left the Aikikai organisation.