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A Life in Aikido: The Biography of Founder Morihei Ueshiba Hardcover – November 1, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA (November 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 477002617X
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770026170
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.9 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,360,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author


Kisshomaru Ueshiba became the second Aikido Doshu (leader) after the Founder and his father, Morihei Ueshiba. He was the author of the popular The Spirit of Aikido and co-author of Best Akido.
Moriteru Ueshiba, the third and present Aikido Doshu, wrote the preface to this book. He is the son of Kisshomaru Ueshiba, and the author of Progressive Aikido, Best Aikido, and The Aikido Master Course.

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Litchen on March 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An inspirational book that has taken too long to be translated from Japanese.
Kisshomaru Ueshiba died in 1999 and the Japanese original was published in 1978.
It is a beautifully produced book on quality paper that does justice to the many photographs, quite a few of which are original to this publication. Others we have seen before, but never so well presented.
Kisshomaru, the 2nd Doshu and only surviving son of Morihei Ueshiba, O Sensei, the Founder of Aikido, relates here the life of his father, clearly delineating the influences and discoveries that led to the development of Aikido.
Unlike other biographies of the Founder of Aikido, this one is told from a unique perspective that embodies familial love and respect that no other third hand version of O Sensei's life can capture. Kisshomaru lived Aikido from his earliest moments, and often acted as his father's training partner. His constant work in promoting Aikido in Japan and around the world is hinted at but not gone into in much detail as this book is about his father. And on the passing of his father he naturally became the next leader. This gives the book a viewpoint that is personal and private and reveals much about O Sensei that has not previously been known. Though some parts are overlong in general it covers all anyone would want to know about Moriehei Ueshiba, the person, not the legend others have created around him.
What most impressed me was when Kisshomaru related that almost on his deathbed his father told him "You did well." These were the only words of praise he ever said to his son. And just before he slipped into a coma he told his disciples to keep everyone together and support Kisshomaru. How must Kisshomaru have felt at that moment?
"Carry on, won't you," were his very last words to his son.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spider Monkey on January 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
`A Life In Aikido' is the biography of Morihei Ueshiba as written by his son Kisshomaru. Originally written in 1978 and translated in 2008 this fine work is finally available for English speaking Aikidoka to enjoy. This follows the life of O Sensei and the development of Aikido in it's various guises. It is clearly written and Kisshomaru is both self deprecating and stringent in upholding the memory of his father. The chapters in the middle explaining O Sensei's time involved with Omoto became a little boring at times, only because it goes into great depth about the philosophy of Omoto and how Omoto developed, which didn't really add to the story of O Sensei's life. This is the only minor gripe. Kisshomaru goes to great length to ensure the many people who helped in the development and growth of Aikido are given credit and there are many names enclosed. The main strength of this book is the stunning photography which illustrate the book throughout. The images of O sensei and the those involved in his life make for wonderful viewing. If you'd like an alternative, slightly more coherent biography of Morihei Ueshiba then track down `Abundant Peace' by John Stevens, but for his sons insight and perception this can't be faulted. This is worth a look if you're a dedicated Aikido practitioner but if you have only a passing interest go for `Abundant Peace'. This also includes a preface by the third and current doshu Moriteru Ueshiba, the founders grandson. This is a classic Aikido text, which is happily translated at last.

Feel free to check out my blog which can be found on my profile page.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This was a fascinating book about a fascinating man, told by his own son no less. Although I've not been fortunate enough to learn Aikido myself the book still drew me in and I found myself wanting to learn more and more about him. Early on Kisshomomaru calls his father divine, respectfully always referring to him as "O Sensei" and by the books end it's hard to think of him as otherwise. That the book does this simply by telling his story and not getting preachy is a testament to him.

Admittedly the book is not perfect. There are times when Kissho seems to go on tangents about things not related to the man, and other times where he's quoting at length from so many other sources that you start to wonder if this is a biography, or a compilation of things said of Morihei. Others might also have issues with Kissho inserting himself into the story to speak personally of his own experiences with his father but I personally found those scenes touching and did enjoy them. I must also mention that if someone picks up this book hoping to learn any actual techniques they'll be disappointed. I didn't, so I wasn't, but I can see why others might, This is a straight up biography, not a guide book or manual on Aikido.

I consider those complaints but mere nit picks, however, and still thoroughly enjoyed the book. This is one of those rare books that I knew, upon finishing it, I would inevitably read again. It's not too long, told very naturally, and is just such a fascinating read. I cannot recommend it highly enough and urge anyone with any interest in martial arts or just history or both to read it.
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By Aikido845 on March 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A Life In Aikido is the biography of O'Sensei. I feel that this is an essential book for any Aikido practitioner because it outlines how Aikido developed and the mind set behind the art as developed by Morihei Ueshiba. I learned a lot reading this book about O'Sensei and the art of Aikido. This truly is a wonderful book and I plan to read it again in the near future. If I had one complaint it would be that the story of O'Sensei life with the study of Omoto slightly dragged on because of the great detail it provided. It was nice that this type of detail was captured but if you have not interest in it, it might be perceived as very boring. If I had a complaint about the book it would be about this only as the other areas of the book were truly enlightening and well read. It was also nice to be able to see names of current Aikido masters captured within the book as well.
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