Daitō-ryū (also known as simply Aiki-jūjutsu) has come down to us from time immemorial. It is mostly considered to be a fighting style created by the Seiwa Minamoto clan, and handed down from generation to generation. It was the prince Shinra Saburo Minamoto Yoshimitsu the one who compiled all its teachings around the 11th century.
Prince Shinra Saburō Minamoto no Yoshimitsu (新羅 三郎 源 義光, 1045–1127) was a Minamoto clan samurai and member of the Seiwa Genji (the branch of the Minamoto family descended from the 56th imperial ruler of Japan, Emperor Seiwa). Yoshimitsu studied and researched the techniques handed down in his family in more detail. It is also believed that Yoshimitsu dissected the corpses of men killed in battle, studying their anatomy for the purpose of learning techniques for joint-locking and atemi-waza (nerve striking).
Yoshimitsu eventually settled down in Kai Province (modern day Yamanashi Prefecture), and passed on what he learned within his family. Ultimately, Yoshimitsu's great-grandson Nobuyoshi adopted the surname "Takeda", which has been the name of the family to the present day. The Takeda family remained in Kai Province until the time of Takeda Shingen (武田 信玄, 1521–1573). Shingen opposed Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga in their campaign to unify and control all of Japan. With the death of Shingen and his heir, Takeda Katsuyori (武田 勝頼, 1546–1582), the Takeda family relocated to the Aizu domain (an area comprising the western third of modern-day Fukushima Prefecture).
Though these events caused the Takeda family to lose some of its power and influence, it remained intertwined with the ruling class of Japan. More importantly, the move to Aizu and subsequent events profoundly shaped what would emerge as Daitō-ryū Aiki-jūjutsu in the 19th century. One important event was the adoption of Tokugawa Ieyasu's grandson, Komatsumaru (1611–1673), by Takeda Kenshoin (fourth daughter of Takeda Shingen). Komatsumaru devoted himself to the study of the Takeda family's martial arts, and was subsequently adopted by Hoshina Masamitsu. Komatsumaru changed his name to Hoshina Masayuki (保科 正之), and in 1644 was appointed the governor of Aizu. As governor, he mandated that all subsequent rulers of Aizu study the arts of Ono-ha Ittō-ryū (which he himself had mastered), as well as the art of oshikiuchi, a martial art which he developed for shogunal counselors and retainers, tailored to conditions within the palace. These arts became incorporated into and combined with the Takeda family martial arts.
According to the traditions of Daitō-ryū, it was these arts which Takeda Sokaku began teaching to non-members of the family in the late 19th century. Takeda had also studied swordsmanship and spearmanship with his father, Takeda Sokichi, as well as Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryū as an uchi-deshi (live-in student) under the renowned swordsman Sakakibara Kenkichi.
During his life, Sokaku traveled extensively to attain his goal of preserving his family's traditions by spreading Daitō-ryū throughout Japan.
The significant interest in this martial art, which has much in common with the many less popular classical Japanese jujutsu schools, is probably due largely to the success of Takeda Sokaku's student Morihei Ueshiba, and the art that he founded, Aikido.
Aikido is practised internationally and has hundreds of thousands of adherents. Many of those interested in Aikido have traced the art's origins back to Daitō-ryū, which has increased the level of interest in an art which was otherwise virtually unknown a few decades before.
Aikido's influence was significant even in its early years, prior to World War II, when Ueshiba was teaching a more overtly combative form closer to Daitō-ryū.
The concept of "Aiki" is an old one, and was common to other classical Japanese schools of armed combat. There are some other styles of Japanese jujutsu that use the term aiki-jūjutsu, but there are no records of its use prior to the Meiji era. Many modern schools influenced by Aikido presently utilize the term to describe their use of Aikido-like techniques with a more combative mindset. There are a number of martial arts in addition to Aikido which appear, or claim, to be descended from the art of Daitō-ryū or the teachings of Takeda Sōkaku. Among them are: the Korean martial art of hapkido founded by Choi Yong-sool, who claims to have been trained under Takeda Sokaku.
Unfortunately, after WWII and specially with the passing of Morihei Ueshiba in 1969, Aikido became more like a gymnastics than a martial art, losing people's credibility worldwide. According to statistics by the Aikido Journal, Aikido is decreasing at an exponential rate, about 15% a year in the US alone.
After studying several martial arts and achieving the mastery in Aikido (after almost four decades of practice), HIRH Prince Gharios El Chemor (nee. Ahnume Guerios) decided to create the Shinken-Ryu Aikibudo 真剣流合氣武道 at the same time going back to the origins of Aikijujitsu's efficient martial art, but adapting it to modern day's situations.