The symbols that Saotome Sensei selected when he designed the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba logo have a very spiritual meaning, that speaks directly to the purpose of our organization and O Sensei’s vision.


The main elements are the red sun behind white clouds. Together, they represent fire (the sun) and water (clouds), and are a manifestation of the yin-yang principle of universal energy. Saotome Sensei says that the logo reminds us that the yin-yang principle is not static, but ever dynamic and in relationship with each other to create life through ki (energy, the kanji overlaying the sun) and kokyu (the principle of breath, and the expansion and contraction rhythm of all things in nature).
Saotome Sensei's Sketch - Universal Ki from "Harmony of Nature"

Principle of Universal Ki, from Sensei’s “Aikido and the Harmony of Nature”, Shamballa Press 1993

Saotome Sensei deliberately chose the “Aikido Schools of Ueshiba” name for our organization to emphasize our loyalty and dedication to the Founder’s mission, and to encourage his students to not be limited by stylistic or affiliation-based thinking. O Sensei meditated daily on the relationship of man in the universe, and it is Saotome Sensei’s hope that we cultivate that focus and work to bring harmony through our training, lives, and actions. The name also emphasizes that ASU students are all effectively O Sensei’s students, and the legacy that ASU carries is the teachings and principles of the Founder rather than any individual teacher.


This article was based on conversations with Mitsugi Saotome Sensei on 11/3/2015 and 8/6/2015.

2 Responses

  1. Re the patch: Some place I also was informed that the Japanese writing in the center was O’Sensei’s writing of the word “Ki”. I believe Saotome Sensei told me that but i’m not sure of too much these days. Thanks for your good words and keep me on your recipient list.
    Warren Little, who was in DC when the patch was created (1981) and was instrumental in getting the copyright on the patch for Sensei. Warren is also a firm believer in all students wearing the patch on their Gi. There is not the will to make it mandatory but he thinks it is a way of showing our appreciation to Sensei for devoting his life to spreading this art.

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