Aikido – the way of harmony, is the first (as far as we know…) manifestation of non-violent martial art. Where other martial arts focus on overwhelming the strength (and wit) of foes; Aikido teaches its advocates to ‘blend’ with the energy of an attacker, redirecting it to a peaceful resolution.
Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), founder of the Aikido way, went through various (often dramatic) changes throughout his life: Ueshiba was born in oppressive times of Japanese history as a privileged elite, he was encouraged by his father to learn the way of the samurai – as strength was a crucial asset to obtain back in those days… seeing his father getting beaten by thugs from a rival cartel proved to him that this was true. Things got worse in his early adulthood: He became a worker at a local tax office in Tokyo, but failed to be self-sustaining, not to mention the two world wars that he had to witness (one of which he participated in the front lines as sergeant).
Legend has it that Ueshiba witnessed 3 visions sent by higher powers in which he saw/understood the secrets of the universe… he saw God. That violence would only lead to more violence; he understood that “Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter – it is the Art of Peace, the power of love.”
Thus Aikido is born, as a form of martial art that favors peace over power.
“The Art of Peace does not rely on weapons or brute force to succeed. Instead we put ourselves in tune with the universe, maintain peace in our own realms, nurture life, and prevent death and destruction. The true meaning of the term samurai is one who serves and adheres to the power of love.”
– Morihei Ueshiba