Morihiro Saito Shihan
& the Founder's Aikido
A Founder's Disciple
Morihiro Saito, a native of Iwama, Japan, joined the Founder's Iwama Dojo as a live-in student at age 18. He was to become one of the Founder's closest disciples, spending nearly every day with him for 23 years.
After the Founder's death in 1969, Aikido spread out into several different lineages or styles under the Founder's various disciples. Saito Sensei, however, remained in Iwama as head instructor of the Iwama Dojo. He took it as his duty to preserve Aikido's roots--what he calls "the Founder's techniques"--the locks and throws the Founder taught on a daily basis at the Iwama Dojo as well as the practices involving aiki-ken (wooden sword), aiki-jo (wooden staff). These trainings were and are critical for refining distance and timing and are integral to the understanding of Aikido.
Saito Sensei's Teaching Method
Saito Shihan's own innovation, was to develop a systematic, integrated and repeatable method for transmitting the Founder's Aikido, in it’s entirety (body arts, Jo and Ken). Saito Sensei’s teaching method was developed from studying with Morihei Ueshiba at his home dojo in Iwama and is a direct result of what O’Sensei showed at the Ibaraki Dojo. It stresses mental focus and coordinated body movement for the rapid development of internal energy and power.
Saito Sensei felt strongly that while Aikido's spiritual values are essential to the practice, they are nurtured non-verbally through sincere training and cooperation among dojo members.
Saito Shihan passed away on May 12, 2002 after a lengthy illness. His unselfishness and determination to pass on the Founder's Aikido will endure as an inspiration to generations of future martial artists.