Morihei Ueshiba (referred to as O Sensei) was reputedly the greatest Martial Artist to have ever lived, holder of Master scrolls in numerous different arts such as Shinkage Ryu Kenjutsu, Kodokan Judo (very different from the sport Judo we know today) & Daito Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu (often thought of as the parent art of Aikido.
The Early Years
The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, was born on 14th December 1883, to a farming family in an area of the Wakayama Prefecture now known as Tanabe. Among five children, he was the only son. From his father Yoroku, he inherited a samurai's determination and interest in public affairs, and from his mother an intense interest in religion, poetry and art. In his early childhood, Morihei was rather weak and sickly, which led to his preference of staying indoors to read books instead of playing outside. He loved to listen to the miraculous legends of the wonder-working saints "En no Gyoja" and "Kobo Daishi," and was fascinated by the esoteric Buddhist riturals. Morihei had even considered becoming a Buddhist priest at one time.
To counteract his son's daydreaming, Yoroki would recount the tales of Morihei's great-grandfather "Kichiemon," said to be one of the strongest samurai of his day, and encouraged him to study Sumo wrestling and swimming. Morihei became stronger and finally realized the necessity of being strong after his father was attacked and beaten by a gang of thugs hired by a rival politician.Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. In faucibus, risus eu volutpat pellentesque, massa felis feugiat velit, nec mattis felis elit a eros.
School seemed to bore Morihei as his nervous energy needed a more practical outlet. He took on several jobs, but they too seemed to disillusion him. During a brief stint as a merchant, he finally realized he had an affinity for the martial arts. He greatly enjoyed his study of Jujutsu at the Kito-ryu dojo and Swordsmanship at the Shinkage Ryu training center. But as luck would have it, a severe case of Beri-Beri sent him home, where he later married Itogawa Hatsu.
After regaining his health during the Russo-Japanese War period, he decided to enlist in the army. Standing at just under five feet tall, he failed to meet the minimum height requirements. He was so upset that he went immediately to the forests and swung on trees trying desperately to stretch his body out. On his next attempt to enlist, he passed his examination and became an infantryman in 1903. During this time he impressed his superiors so much that this commanding officer recommended him for the National Military Academy, but for various reasons he declined the position and resigned from active duty.
Morihei returned home to the farm. Having grown strong during his time in the military, he was now eager to continue physical training. His father built a dojo on his farm and invited the well-known Jujutsu instructor Takaki Kiyoichi to tutor him. During this time, young Ueshiba became stronger and found he possessed great skills. At the same time he became more interested in political affairs. In the Spring of 1912, at the age of 29, he and his family moved into the wilderness of Hokkaido. After a few years of struggle, the small village started to prosper. Ueshiba had grown tremendously muscular, to the point that the power he possessed in his arms became almost legendary.