May
10

Hi-res video: “Morihiro Saito ventures to America for the first time in 1974”

“An undisputed technical genius goes abroad for
the first time and captures the hearts of the Americans!”

This long-lost film was made in 1974 in San Francisco and Oakland, California on the occasion of Morihiro Saito’s first American seminar. He was 46 years old and in his prime and traveling abroad for the first time. Saito Sensei made a lasting impression for his technical and teaching skills and was invited back many times.

Sensei’s uke and traveling companion on that trip was Shigemi Inagaki Sensei, then a 5th dan and a formidable aikidoka. David Alexander and Dennis Tatoian also formed part of Sensei’s entourage from Japan. A number of his early foreign uchideshi including Bill Witt, Bruce Klickstein and Hans Goto were based in northern California, and Sensei had been invited to conduct seminars on this occasion by them. He taught back-to-back seminars at the old Aikido of San Francisco and at Stanford University on October 5-6 and October 12-13, respectively. Saito Sensei also taught a class at the Oakland Aikido Institute during this tour.

Below is a report by Stanley Pranin on Saito Sensei’s visit from Aiki News dated October 1974:

Saito Sensei’s effectiveness as a teacher was indeed remarkable. And this was achieved without knowledge of the language of his students. His method of presentation consisted primarily of slow-motion pantomimes of the individual techniques with a minimum of verbalization. This coupled with careful groupings of related movements provided a well-focused perspective of many aspects of the Aikido system.

Those present could not help but remark the excellent poise displayed by Saito Sensei during the course of the two gasshuku both on and off the mat. He remained centered and calm despite the fact he found himself immersed in a foreign culture for the first time. Noteworthy also was Saito Sensei’s outstanding stamina. He participated fully in all sessions instructing students individually and taking falls. He remained patient and at the same time energetic during the many hours of intense training of the two gasshuku. The impact of his presence and teaching manner was very powerful and will continue to resonate in this region for a long time to come…

This film was shot and produced in 16 mm by Dyanna Taylor, a filmographer and aikidoka.

Duration: 15:19
File size: 230 mb
Frame size: 720 x 480

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