“Rethinking Aikido for the 21st Century,” by Francis Takahashi

First of all, what happened? O Sensei happened, and even as talented and proven researchers do their individual and collective magic in attempting to uncover the vast mysteries of the man, the myth and the magnitude of the aftermath of all that has transpired to date in Aikido’s brief, but exciting history, there is more than ample fodder to digest and perhaps to reconstitute for generations to come.

Together with accompanying shifts to our perceptions and cherished beliefs we currently cling to, we may look forward to even more discoveries and paradigm shaping epiphanies that are probably unimaginable today. There is so very much more to anticipate, and in looking forward to the lessons of tomorrow, we may well ponder what roles we will individually and collectively play in their eventual arrival and impact.

With the herculean efforts of people like Stanley Pranin, Peter Goldsbury, and others yet to be recognized, can there be any serious doubt that our understandings and real knowledge of historical truths, will surely improve by quantum leaps and tidal surges. Let us all do our part to support those who keep up the research, and who willingly and generously produce such splendid writings and documentations !

What does it all mean? Who can definitively say, and with what proofs or reasoned arguments? Suffice to say that these discussions, and accompanying debates, will continue unabated for generations to come, not because of any lack of intelligence or desire to honestly do the due diligence, but simply because the concept of Universal Aiki is really that huge, and that the Founder’s prodigious discoveries aside, his was merely a starting point for the rest of us, and for succeeding generations to deal with. It does prove one thing, however, that there is more than enough genuine interest in the subject matter, and that much, much more remains to be explored, to be uncovered, and to be generously shared in the spirit of Ueshiba Aiki. It truly means that this generation has just begun, continuing the opus started not that long ago, by a special man from Tanabe.

I do feel a bit sorry for those who insist and persist in thinking that Aikido is merely another martial arts construct. What a waste of inattention and misguided intention. Do smell the roses, but do not ignore the fragrant earth from which it springs, the gentleness of the life giving rains, and the life enhancing energy of sunlight, all of which play their respective roles in bringing the Founder’s most cherished hopes and the profoundest of dreams to life, his Silver Bridge under construction by us.

What are some of the takeaways? In addition to what we are learning about the origins of the Founder’s life quest, his epiphanies and subsequent discoveries, along with the unpredictable and improbable impact of the new interpretations of his legacy, we are also gaining important insights into those who were his mentors, his peers, and his direct followers. True genius does not grow in a vacuum, and it has become quite obvious that the Founder encountered and benefitted from his unique associations with other geniuses of his time and space. Even today, with different cultural expectations, and fresh interpretations of the original model, we are surely benefitting from the often novel and exciting expanded applications of the Aiki Principles that once nourished the Founder, and are now nourishing new generations as well. We can, and must continue to dare create our own versions of Aikido, not in shallow imitation or misguided homage to the past, but because this is the living legacy envisioned by the Founder himself. This is what he admonished his direct students to do, if they had “the goods” to do so. And now, it is incumbent on the current, and future generations, to take up the task. Are we up to it?

What happens next? We are the living witnesses to the power of the original message, the Founder’s vision, and to the Fundamental Truths of Universal Aiki, and of Ueshiba Aiki, that invite us all to research, incorporate and to share. Like a growing tsunami of unavoidable momentum, we will be busy producing the current and future geniuses and innovators, who are taking up the challenge of fully exploring and cultivating the unlimited benefits of applying Aiki Principles to our lives, to our programming, and to the natural creation of legacies of our own. It is the human thing to do, even though we are fallible human carbon units striving to make it beyond Armageddon.

Will we make it? Time will tell.

Click here to view the original article


  1. Thank you for this great contribution Takahashi Sensei and thanks to all the people, like the ones you named and others who researched in history and made it available to the world. O Sensei observed nature closely and applied it to his knowledge of budo envisioning a real art that he began to construct and his students continued to build. Now it is the turn of our great senseis, students of direct students together with our help to keep the work growing and displaying in its full greatness and beauty.
    Translation of the article in german may be found here
    and in spanish here

  2. Brett Jackson says:

    Agree completely with Carina’s response to this great article. Very well said, as always, Mr. Takahashi! You have a wonderful way of saying so much with such an economical means delivery and you know the way forward. We are all O-Senseis’s children and need to grow the art in the best way as we mature. My wish for the Chinese year year of the Dragon is that we can get better at keeping our bodies in good health without giving up the integrity of our practice. I’m been in aikido for a while now and had thought I had taken good care of my knees but lately have been having issues with them. To all you young practitioners out there, take good care of your knees especially, and then you can plan to practise growing your aikido through middle age and beyond. We have lots of shining examples of that by regular contributers to this blog: Mr Takahashi, Mr. Bull, Mr Sagiba, and others. Happy Holidays and New Year to all authentic students of Ueshiba Aikido! Let’s grow this thing!

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