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Durham e-Theses
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Aikidō and spirituality: Japanese religious influences in a martial art

Greenhalgh, Margaret (2003) Aikidō and spirituality: Japanese religious influences in a martial art. Masters thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines spirituality in the Japanese martial art aikidō, which was created in the 1940s in Japan by Ueshiba Morihei. He described aikidō entirely in spiritual terms and claimed that it is an art of peace which leads religion to completion. The study has two aims: first, to show how spirituality, defined as ultimate concern and action directed towards it, is possible in the context of a martial art; second, to gain an overview of the original teaching of Ueshiba Morihei which has been fragmented and often misunderstood since his death. After considering some conceptual hindrances to appreciation of spirituality in the martial arts, the main themes of Japanese spirituality are identified in order to provide context for spirituality in aikidō. An analysis of Ueshiba's life and the evolution of aikidō is then given. Spirituality in this martial art is then evaluated by comparing the aikidō world view and method of practice with those of four religious belief systems influential in Japan: Daoism, Zen Buddhism, Shingon Mikkyō and Shinto. The research entailed reading and analysing primary and secondary documents concerning aikidō in several languages scattered in private archives and libraries, as well as discussion with a member of the Omoto organisation, consultation of library resources and quality internet sites. By positioning aikidō within a religious context, this work aims to provide a clearer understanding of the origins of aikidō in Japanese spirituality and the intent of its founder. In so doing, it hopes to contribute to removing some of the confusion which has surrounded this art's role as spiritual technique since it spread outside Japan.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2003
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Aug 2012 11:37

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