• Dr. Robert Frager

A Conversation with the Founder of Aikido

Updated: Jan 17

For two and a half years I trained seven days a week at the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo. After my first year I was honored to be accepted as a personal student of the Founder of Aikido, Master Morihei Ueshiba.

On one occasion I traveled with the Founder to the great Tokyo Shinto shrine which had been founded by his spiritual master Oniguchi Desaburo. I was sitting with the Founder in the back of a taxi, and I suddenly realized this was a wonderful opportunity to ask him a question. There never seemed to be enough time at the dojo because I was busy training whenever I was there.

I thought to myself here I am sitting next to a great master, the kind of sage that seekers travel to the Himalayas to find. I didn’t want to waste this priceless moment. Then I wondered what to ask.

I knew the Founder was not patient with people who asked foolish questions and I thought, “This had better be a good question.”

I gathered up my courage and asked, “Master, what is the correct attitude to our training partners in aikido?” He smiled. I was relieved that he seemed to like my question.

The Founder replied, “Your attitude should be like a parent to a child. You lead your training partner with the expectation they will follow you.”

I have thought about his answer ever since. Good parents are loving and also authoritative. They guide; they do not force.

I will never forget the love and joy on the Founder’s face whenever he demonstrated Aikido. I realized all his students were his children.

For me he was the embodiment of Aikido and he still is, years after his passing. I'm still learning from his example.


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Dr. Frager is a psychology professor, Sufi master, and aikido instructor. He is the co-owner, president, and CEO of PageMill Press.