O’ Sensei as Super Hero

            I’ve been thinking about writing a children’s book about O’Sensei. When I teach the kids, I delight in telling them how his eyes lit up like crystals; he believed all of us in the world were one big family. He’s a perfect children’s book warrior hero and an apt model for today’s youth. He’s easily as compelling as our current super heroes, Spiderman or Captain America. It’s murmured by some that the Star Wars Master of the Force, Yoda, was modeled after O’Sensei.


            Here’s how it could begin. A sickly kid, wishing to get strong, Morihei Ueshiba began studying sumo at six years old. When he witnessed his father being robbed and beaten by bandits, it lit a fire in his belly that numerous artists have tried to display with a paintbrush. From an early age he devoured many martial practices and embraced the esoteric way of Shingon Buddhism.


            O ‘Sensei loved nature. Born in the mountainous Wakayama prefecture of central Japan, he played in the dense forests, swam in the sea, and stood under freezing waterfalls to see what he could see under water. Wakayama region has long been associated with divinity. It’s home to the kami (god), Izanami, patron saint of creation and compassionate goddesses Kannon (known to Buddhists as Kuan Yin). The Tengu (celestial goblins) live there too. Fable has it that if you’re not paying attention when in the gullies and ravines of the Hongu, these supernatural shape shifters will play tricks on your spirit and lift your soul from your body. That’s better than cops and robbers.

            A rebel from early on, Morihei left his short-lived job as a tax collector in his 20s (his family thought it was an acceptable job) and led 50 families to farm the rugged north land of Hokkaido, Japan. You might compare this journey to homesteading the American Wild West in the 1850s. While plowing the rugged land, he energized people to endure the ruthless winter conditions and inspired them to work together to survive the harsh conditions.

            Seeking to serve his country militarily, he hung from tree trunks to get taller so he would be eligible for service. He empty-handedly overwhelmed decorated sword-wielding generals and top sumo wrestlers of Japan. His warrior skills included bravery, wisdom, and friendship.  In 1925 he experienced satori. Legend has it that after a duel challenge from a navy officer, a golden light filled his being and he saw himself connected to all things in heaven and earth and one with the universe.

            It gets better. O’sensei believed that his totem was a dragon; his transfigured spiritual form was the bright and mysterious Ame no Mura Jumo Kuki Samharar Ryuo Dragon king. Who wouldn’t want a dragon to be their protector? ……… TBC


Kimberly Richardson