“Morihiro Saito’s Teachings Go Viral!” by Stanley Pranin

“The foot comes in the middle. Do atemi here. Your feet
form a “T” with your partner’s feet. Then extend your arm…”

As many of you know, yesterday we launched our very first ebook. It’s a rare technical manual entitled “Takemusu Aiki — Koshinage,” by Morihiro Saito Sensei.

I was really amazed and heartened by your enthusiastic response! Readers from over 20 countries around the world have purchased their digital ebooks in the first 24 hours, and had this wonderful manual saved on their computer hard drives within 5 minutes! How times have changed since I started doing this business 38 years ago.

The subject of koshinage–aikido’s hip-throws–made me recall the fact that Saito Sensei covers these techniques in some detail on a couple of the DVDs in our catalog, Lost Seminars, Volume 6 and Volume 7 to be precise. I decided to look through the subtitle files and found this little section where Saito Sensei describes and demonstrates koshinage basics.

I believe those of you who have just ordered the ebook will find Saito Sensei’s comments below fascinating to read since you will get an idea of how it was to train “live” with Morihiro Saito Sensei at one of his seminars:

Now we’ll turn to koshinage. First we’ll start from katatedori.
Starting from katatedori which is the easiest to do.

The main points of all koshinage are the same as this one.

I would like to have you start learning with this simple koshinage.

The foot comes in the middle. Do atemi here.

Your feet form a “T” with your partner’s feet. Then extend your arm. Point in that direction.

Then bring the small of your back to your partner’s stomach. Then look downward.

You must load him correctly since you won’t be able to throw him if he’s heavy.

1… 2…

If I talk for a long time, please sit comfortably.

There was a prestigious girls high school. The students were all smart.

There were some koshinage techniques on their tests. They were helping each other by jumping on their high falls.

I told them that was not right.

“You have to stop and completely load your partner on your back,” I said.

But they couldn’t do that. They all would jump when taking their falls.

I told them to load their partners on their backs but they couldn’t do it. They were all unstable.

So in order to learn correct koshinage, first don’t throw but practice loading your partner on your back.

If you can lightly load your partner you are doing well. If your partner feels heavy you need more practice.

Even if the load is heavy, some people will just go ahead and take the fall. So it’s better to stop there.

Here you look down, and if your partner feels light, there is no problem.

Let me explain from a katatedori grip. This is the variation where you put your head through.

This is the variation where you don’t put your head through.

This variation is done in the manner of shihonage.

All of these variations are different. Please learn the distinctions among them…

I’m very excited about what all of this means in terms of the direction of our research and publications from here forward. You have spoken loud and clear about what you materials you want and in what form you want them. We are listening… and we will deliver. It’s full steam ahead, 24/7!


  1. I’m very pleased to know you have developed the ebook on Saito Sensei’s teaching style, and hopefully more ahead. I just want to let you how I agree that Sensei’s seminars and classes were a unique and enduring experience which I was fortunate to have shared. It was in Iwama in 1978 where I first met him, responding to his invitation, where I stayed a month, and returned for a couple of shorter visits later. He had also visited my dojo in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, at least three times, topped by a five-day seminar, with Tomita Sensei and you taking turns to assist in ukemi.

    Some outstanding and wonderful methods in the way Sensei delivered the materials included a) a well-explained preamble to every technique, however basic it had seemed; b) the pleasant and positive conduct of the lessons, almost untypical of the expectations seen in the west for a martial arts master, all sprinkled with jokes and laughter to boot; and c) the care in which he introduced the koshinage, gradually from hip-loading, mutual-balancing, 45-degree hanmi entry, T-form stance, to actual throw, practically eliminating any trauma many beginners have reportedly experienced from western dojos. Credit all that to his being not only aikido’s greatest teacher ever but also one magically fluid aikidoist himself.

    I’m certain, this was one of my many reasons, and apparently yours as well, to focus my training and my dojo away from my previous sensei Koichi Tohei, toward the Iwama style and the veneration of takemusu. One added memorable experience I would like to include is my first meeting with one of the first edition of a mimeograph-like publication called Aiki News and its inimitable editor. Wonderful work, indeed.

    • Victor,

      It’s very nice hearing from you. That trip to Calgary was certainly one of the highlights of my association with Morihiro Saito Sensei. I’m so pleased that you have continued all of this time! We will be publishing a lot more materials on Saito Sensei in digital format in the near future.

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