He began his Aikido training when he was eighteen years old. He had practiced Kendo as well as Shito-ryu Karate and Judo. Saito Sensei was accepted by Ueshiba O-Sensei as a student, and this was the beginning of a very long and close relationship. Due to his hour on and hour off working shift with the Japanese National Railroad, Saito Sensei had a lot of time for training at the Ueshiba dojo. Early morning classes were devoted to prayer at the Aiki Shrine followed by weapons practice. This was the period when The Founder was deeply engrossed in the study of Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo and their relationship to empty-handed techniques.
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Saito's practice of aikido spanned 56 years, from the age of 18, when he first met aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba , until his death in In the Japanese schools at that time, the martial arts of kendo and judo were taught to students, and Saito chose to study kendo.
In the years immediately following the end of World War II , the carrying of weapons of any kind, as well the practice of martial arts, was prohibited by the GHQ. After a short time, his work with the Japanese National Railways transferred him to Iwama , and he was forced to find other martial arts training.
Thinking judo would be a useful complement to his kendo and karate skills, he began training at a judo dojo in Ishioka. In the summer of , however, Saito heard stories about an "old man doing strange techniques up on the mountain near Iwama.
By July , the GHQ-imposed ban upon the practice of martial arts had forced Morihei Ueshiba into an official "retirement" from practice for several years.
It was at this time, at the age of 18, that Saito joined Ueshiba for training, which already included then live-in students Kisshomaru Ueshiba , Koichi Tohei , and Tadashi Abe. This early training was quite brutal, but after persevering for several years, Saito became one of Ueshiba's closest students. Much credit is given to the fortuitous work schedule Saito had with the Japanese National Railways, where Saito worked 24 hours on, 24 hours off.
As a result, Saito had the unique opportunity to train with Ueshiba in the practice of the sword and short staff, which occurred early each morning before the other students arrived.
Training at the Iwama dojo consisted of a great deal of farmwork. The life of the full-time live in students consisted of prayer each morning before sunrise, two meals of rice porridge each day, and training interspersed with copious amounts of work on the farm. As a result of Saito's 24 hours on, 24 hours off, position with the National Railway meant that he would train and live as a live-in student only every other 24 hours. Eventually, the other live-in students moved away, and when Saito returned from work, he would train alone with Ueshiba.
Although other students such as Koichi Tohei trained with Ueshiba for more years than Saito did, Saito's work allowed him to train almost as an uchideshi , for long periods as the only student. Before his death Ueshiba gave Morihiro Saito the responsibility of carrying on the teaching at the Iwama dojo and also the position of caretaker of the Aiki Jinja located in Iwama.
Saito's instruction of aikido is particularly remembered for its emphasis upon the basics of aikido, and especially upon the relationship between the armed and unarmed aspects of the art. Kazuo Chiba , a live-in student uchideshi of Ueshiba at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, recalled in particular the intensity of the training that occurred at the Iwama dojo,.
A large portion of the membership at Iwama Dojo consisted of local farmers, hard workers who spent all day in the fields. Altogether, it was quite an opposite culture from Hombu Dojo in Tokyo. Any members who came to visit Iwama Dojo from Hombu must have looked pale and weak from city living to Iwama members.
Indeed, the Iwama students treated us from Hombu as such and challenged us vigorously. It was a matter of survival for members from Hombu Dojo, including Hombu uchideshi like myself. And Saito Sensei was on top of that mountain, which we had to climb with all our might. Apparently, this rigorous training with Saito, which Ueshiba would often observe, also included intense conditioning exercises, as well as general farmwork that students at the Iwama dojo were expected to assist with.
Other students of Saito attest to his commitment to carry on Ueshiba's legacy, and to follow and preserve Ueshiba's teachings as Saito had learned them. He also advocated training to cope with the attacks of other martial arts, such as the kicks practiced in karate. According to Saito's son, Hitohiro Saito now Hitohira , Saito believed that the basis of all empty-handed, sword, and staff techniques was the mastery of aikido's basic posture hanmi. Saito believed that once the correct posture was mastered, the next step was to develop a proper kiai sometimes translated as "spirit shout".
In the beginning of the s, aikido students from outside Japan began traveling to Iwama to train under Saito. Later they would return to their native countries to teach what they had learned. There were also a small number of Japanese students of Saito who travelled abroad to teach Aikido, such as Takayasu-shihan.
The kind of aikido that Saito's students do is often referred to as Iwama aikido or Iwama style. In Europe, Saito, along with many of his students, formed a dan-ranking network of dojos called Iwama Ryu , with ranks received directly from Saito rather than or in addition to those from the Aikikai although Saito never left that organization. Saito also awarded teaching certifications for Aiki-weapons bokken and jo internationally.
Receipt of the full set of five weapons certifications is considered the menkyo-kaiden. Saito Sensei also inspired many around the world to establish dojo that focus on Iwama Style Aikido. Some dojo, like Aikido in Fredericksburg , have full-time uchideshi programs based on what Saito Sensei developed at the Iwama Dojo.
Uchideshi can do short-term intensive studies short stay or long-term apprenticeships for a year or more to fully immerse in the training. Some of the Iwama Ryu network dojos joined Hitohiro while others including some of Saito's longest students chose to remain affiliated with the Aikikai. Hitohiro had already been the main instructor at Iwama dojo.
Like the Aikikai Doshu , he does not claim a dan rank. This short list was chosen based on several criteria including: the rank of the instructor, how long they studied directly with Saito total time in Iwama , how long they were a student of Saito total time since becoming his student and how senior they are in their given region. This list shows the ranks Morihiro Saito personally awarded in his life under both the Iwama Ryu and Aikikai systems. Note: Morihiro Saito never awarded any 8th dan rankings.
For some instructors the current rank is also shown, since some of them continued teaching through other organizations i. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Shihan , 9th dan. Patricia Hendricks current rank: Aikikai 7th dan.
Morihiro Saito Sensei – Brief History 1
Many of the words spoken by the Founder more privately have not been published. Many Aikidoka world-wide misunderstand the true meaning of Aikido as taught by the Founder and have changed the direction of Aikido compared to his original teachings. It was a spring day, before the azalea began to bloom. The Founder told me to cut the branches of the azalea to about waist high. At the time, I did not reflect too much about why the Founder was asking me to do this and just did what I was told without thinking….
Do Not Teach Budo, If You Are Worried About Your Komebitsu: Words of the Founder II
In this remarkable program, Morihiro Saito Sensei reads and demonstrates the fifty techniques of Budo, the rare training manual of Morihei Ueshiba O-Sensei published originally in All of the techniques of Budo are presented and include taijutsu, aiki ken and jo, spear and bayonet exercises. This presentation is intended as the companion to Takemusu Aikido Special Edition which covers the techniques of Budo in great depth in book form. These are the authentic techniques of aikido created by its Founder as demonstrated by one of his foremost students.
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