The Essence of Aikido

Spiritual Teachings of Morihei Ueshiba

  • Morihei Ueshiba
  • Edited by and Translated by John Stevens
The Essence of Aikido

Size: 257×182 mm, 540 g
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 200
ISBN10: 1-56836-469-5
ISBN13: 978-1-56836-469-8
Release date: Sept. 11, 1998

List price: $22.00

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“Aikidō has no set forms—it is the study of the spirit,” declared Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikidō.

For the first time in English, The Essence of Aikidō presents the profound philosophy of Aikidō in Morihei's own words, disclosing many of the arcane secrets of Aikidō’s aims and methods. Considered by many to be the greatest martial artist and spiritual teacher of the twentieth century, Morihei provides a wealth of clues to the often puzzling nature of the inseparable link between the physical and spiritual aspects of Aikidō, revealing the heart of the peaceful warrior's art.

Elegantly translated and compiled by John Stevens, translator of Morihei’s Budō, the first half of The Essence of Aikidō presents the most comprehensive collection of the writings of Morihei Ueshiba ever published. Key concepts in Aikidō philosophy, such as kototama (language of the spirit) and misogi (purification of body and mind) are discussed at length, profusely illustrated with Morihei’s mystical diagrams, spiritual poems, and fascinating calligraphy.

For Morihei, techniques were the means to express the spiritual principles of Aikidō, and in the second half of The Essence of Aikidō, John Stevens focuses on Morihei's techniques. Over two hundred hitherto unpublished photos of Morihei in action from his earliest days as a teacher of the martial arts to his last years as a master of Aikidō complete this detailed survey of the true nature of Aikidō.

A major contribution to a field that until recently has remained elusive to Western readers, The Essence of Aikidō is an inspiring study of the spiritual and physical elements in Aikidō, providing an important resource for martial arts practitioners and philosophy students alike.


“... an indispensable book for the serious aikidoka.”—Aiki News

About the Authors

MORIHEI UESHIBA, born in Western Japan in 1883, is the founder of the popular martial art of Aikidō. After mastering classical styles of judo, kendo, and jūjutsu, he created Aikidō, based on the spiritual teachings of the Ōmoto-kyō religion. After the Second World War, Morihei established the Aikikai Foundation to promote Aikidō throughout the world. Morihei died in 1969.

The translator and compiler, JOHN STEVENS, is a professor of Buddhist studies and Aikidō instructor at Tohoku Fukushi Daigaku in Sendai, Japan. He is the translator of Morihei Ueshiba’s seminal work, Budō, and the author of several books on Aikidō and Buddhism.