The Japanese word Aikido consists of three characters which can be translated as "the way of unity with the fundamental force of the universe". Aikido is a true Budo or "Martial Way." It has evolved in the historic tradition of Japanese warrior arts. It must be understood that studies in earnest Budo is more than a science of tactics and self-defense; it is a discipline for perfecting the spirit. Aikido was developed by Morihei Ueshiba, known to thousands of students of Aikido throughout the world as O-Sensei (Great Teacher). Even as a young man, Morihei Ueshiba was an extraordinary martial artist; a master of the sword, the staff, the spear, as well as the art of ju-jitsu. But O-Sensei also had a strong spiritual drive, and brooded over the futility of a path based on victory over others.
Leading a life of austerity and rigorous training, O-Sensei struggled with this dilemma. He delved deeply into the study of religion, especially Shinto, (Japan’s native religion of nature worship). The dilemma was resolved in a moment of profound awakening. Transformed by his spiritual insights, Ueshiba transmuted his technical mastery of traditional martial arts into a new martial art. The art of Aikido was one that was fundamentally different from those that preceded it. It was also one of refinement and astonishing power.
"The secret of Aikido," he wrote, "is to harmonize with the movement of the universe and bring ourselves into accord with the universe itself". O-Sensei maintained that Budo is a work of love, a path to overcome discord in ourselves and bring peace to the world, "To make the heart of the universe one's own heart." O-Sensei taught that true awareness is not grasped by intellect alone. "This is not mere theory," he said. "You must practice it."