Morihei Ueshiba, O'Sensei Biography and Video Links
Morihei Ueshiba was a religious mystic as well as a martial arts expert, who was adept at higher mathamatics and studied physics, chemistry and other advanced sciences.
This biography of O'Sensei is compiled mainly from old Aiki News magazine articles following a biography written by Kanemoto Sunadomari, an early student of Morihei, who was also a devoted member of the Oomoto religion.
As a young boy around 13 or 14, Morihei learned abacus so well he was teaching other students and adults in the neighborhood, but he dropped out of junior high. Perhaps this was because he was small and nervous. He enjoyed studying and continued to educate himself. When his sister returned from college, she was very surprised to find books in his room that were more advanced than what she had studied.
At the age of 18 he moved to Tokyo and worked in the store of a relative to become a merchant and studied Jujutsu in the evenings. His interest moved more towards the martial arts and he visited numerous dojos, looking for worthy opponents and found very few. During this time he gained weight and got stronger but succumbed to beri-beri. He returned to his hometown Tanabe and soon desired to join the army because of the war brewing with Russia.
When Morihei turned 21 he tried to join the army but they would not accept him because he was too short. (5 ft. 1 & 1/2 inches or 156cm and had to be 5 ft. 2 & 1/2inches or 159cm) He tried different things to stretch himself that extra inch and finally passed the entrance exam and was recruited for the Russo-Japanese War.
While in the army, he learned rifle bayonet tactics and was sent to Manchuria to fight in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904. Before and after the war he studied Yagyu-Ryu Jujutsu during his off duty time. He received a teaching certificate in Yagyu-Ryu Jujutsu and left the army in 1908.
After the war, Morihei was involved in local government and helped settle disputes between various groups around his home town of Tanabe. There were numerous other veterans in the area and it was known that Japan was earnestly recruiting people to colonize the Northern islands that had been a cause for the war with Russia. Morihei assembled a group of veterans and other volunteers to move to Hokaido and colonize an area called Shiratake in Mombetsu Prefecture in Hokaido in 1912. The first years were hard and the climate was harsh, but they set up logging operations that cleared land and started farming the area. Morihei was very involved in local government and became very influential. He was instrumental in bringing the first rail line to serve the area. As Shiritake grew, so did Morihei's wealth.
In late February of 1915 Morihei met Sokaku Takeda and studied with him for 40 days from February 24th to April 4th. He continued to practice with Takeda Sensei regularly and became a top student in the study of Daito Ryu Jujutsu. Despite the fact that Morihei and Sokaku were the same size, Morihei was never able to get the better of Sokaku and he realized there was more than strength and skill involved.
When Morihei received word that his father was dying, he gave his house and a sizable farm in Shiratake, Hokaido to Sokaku Takeda and departed for his home town Tanabe. (It is thought that the transaction was recorded to Sokaku's wife Sue. It is not recored in Sokaku's records.) Morihei's wife had already gone to Tanabe to tend to his father's sickness.
On the way to Tanabe, a man sat down with Morihei on the train and in their conversation Morihei divulged that his father was sick and he was on the way to take care of him. The man told him of a woman who connected with the spirits and healed many people and recommended that Morihei stop in Ayabe on the way to Tanabe and have the woman pray for his father. Morihei did this, but the woman, Nao Deguchi, had already died a year before. However he met Onisaburo Deguchi, the son-in-law of Nao and cofounder of the Oomoto religion, who was a charismatic holy man. Onisaburo's response to Morihei's request for spiritual intervention was that there was no need for concern, his father was already better. Morihei tarried at the Oomoto headquarters for a number of days and when he arrived in Tanabe his father had already passed away. Then he realized what "already better" really meant. Morihei was very impressed with Onisaburo and soon moved his whole family to Ayabe to learn more from this religious leader.
Onisaburo encouraged Morihei to open a school where he taught Daito Ryu Jujutsu for a number of years, but was greatly influenced by this spiritual leader of the Oomoto religion.
The Oomoto religion was promoting world peace and love and trying to establish a global harmony with many religions. However, the Japanese government was already promoting global expansion through direct acquisition and felt the Oomoto religion's goal of world peace was a deterrent to their goals. Deguchi was a charismatic, eccentric, spiritual mystic, who had already been arrested and investigated for some time. His grandmother was the daughter of a master of Kotodama, the study of effects of sounds. Ueshiba became a close student, confidant, body guard and close friend of his mentor.
One of the things that Onisaburo taught to Morihei was the Kotodama. He continued to study Kotodama and used it in his Aikido to great effect. He accompanied Deguchi on an expedition to Northern Korea, Northern China and Mongolia where Deguchi attempted to establish a religious utopia which was thwarted by the Chinese. The group with Deguchi was arrested and nearly executed by a Chinese army. They were rescued by diplomats from Japan who intervened and arrested them and extradited them for the Japanese government just as they were about to be shot.
O'Sensei Video clips
The links are visible so you know where they are from. Some are obviously Aiki News videos, created by Stan Prannin. I'm not copying and posting these videos. I have merely brought them together for people to see. The internet is always changing, so some of the links may not work any more, but most will work.