Ueshiba Morihei - Martial artist and founder of Aikido. Known as O Sensei ("Great Teacher") by Aikidoka.
Born December 14th, 1883, in Wakayama Prefecture (now Tanabe), Japan. Died April 26th, 1969.
Morihei Ueshiba's Art of Aikido is heavily influenced by his study of Daito-ryu Aiki-jutsu which he was instructed in by Takeda Sokaku. On the spiritual side he was influenced by Deguchi Onisaburo, founder of the pacifistic Omoto-kyo sect. During his childhood, the Ueshibas lived in Maizuru (Kyoto Prefecture). O-Sensei also spent time as a farmer on the northern island of Hokkaido with his wife. This was followed by a trip to China and Mongolia.
In 1927 master Ueshiba moved to Tokyo where he founded his first dojo, which still exists today under the name Hombu Dojo. In 1942 he left Tokyo and moved to the prefecture of Iwama where the term Aikido was first used as a name for his art. Ueshiba gained national prominence as a skilled martial artist when he defeated an Imperial Navy officer (highly skilled in kendo)in a martial arts match in Tokyo. In 1946 Morihiro Saito began studying under O-Sensei in Iwama which he did until Ueshiba’s passing in 1969. In 1959 Itsuo Tsuda also began studying under O-Sensei. Morihiro Saito became keeper of the Aiki shrine in Iwama after O'Sensei's death.
His son Kisshomaru Ueshiba became the second Doshu, the official heir and maintainer of Aikido, until his death in January 4th, 1999; the current Doshu is Kisshomaru Ueshiba's son Moriteru Ueshiba.
Many of today's top ranking Aikido shihan were students of O-Sensei.
Many anecdotal (and many also witnessed) stories exist about O-Sensei's martial skill. It is said he was able to escape a tight ring of students that surrounded him with swords. Many of these students would later say they had not even seen O-Sensei go by them.