The founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, known by his students as O Sensei (Great Teacher), synthesized his martial arts training and spiritual studies to create Aikido in the early 20th century. He referred to this new martial art as the Art of Peace. He wrote, “There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.”
Although Aikido emphasizes non-violence and protecting both oneself and opponents from harm, it is still an extremely effective defensive art. O Sensei was a formidable martial artist. During his career, he was often challenged by other prominent martial artists of his time. He was never defeated. In fact, some of his challengers ended up becoming his students after encountering his fighting prowess.
In the 1950s and 60s, O Sensei sent his uchi-deshi (live-in apprentices) across the globe to spread Aikido. One of them, Yoshimitsu Yamada, arrived in New York City in 1964 and became chief instructor of the New York Aikikai where he taught for nearly 60 years. He was known for his focus on Aikido basics and the beauty and power of his technique, as well as being a premier ambassador of Aikido around the world.
Harvey Konigsberg, chief instructor at Woodstock Aikido, started his Aikido training at the New York Aikikai with Yamada Sensei in 1965. Students of Konigsberg Sensei training today are therefore 3rd-generation Aikido practitioners.