Here’s your Aikido study assignment straight from Penn State University!

We have recently welcomed a group of Penn State University students who are practicing aikido as part of their physical education studies. Their teacher is Jim Sullivan, a high-ranking aikidok. Jim has given his students a study assignment. I think some of Aikido Journal readers will be interested in following along. – Editor

Hello Aikido students,

This week your assignment is to:

Read the article “Sleuthing in Search of O-Sensei, by Stanley Pranin” and watch the three short embedded videos on the Founder of Aikido.

Watch the short video of Morihiro Saito Shihan performing your first technique, Tai-no henko.

The first article and videos will begin to give you some insight into this person we call the “Founder of Aikido”, Morihei Ueshiba, or “O-Sensei”. Since the Founder lived in a time when martial arts were still secretively taught and video and books were almost non-existent, it is difficult to truly understand who this mysterious man was and what he left us called “Aikido”. Thanks to invaluable work and effort by Stan Pranin Sensei we can today watch numerous videos and read articles of and about the Founder, as well as his primary students. Foremost amongst the students of the Founder was Morihiro Saito, who trained nearly 24 years with the founder. The Founder decreed that upon his death, Saito Shihan would be in charge of caring for the Aiki shrine and his Iwama Dojo, which he did for the next 33 years until he passed in 2002. Unfortunately you as students today cannot have the opportunity to train with the Founder or Saito Shihan. However, you can learn from and train with direct students of Saito Shihan, including Pranin Sensei, Mark Larson Sensei, and myself.

In your last video you will see your first technique, Tai no henko, performed by Morihiro Saito Shihan. The Founder of Aikido wrote six “Training Principles” of Aikido. One of these principles states that “Daily training begins with Tai-no henko”. This statement has been directly translated by Mark Larson Sensei of Minnesota Aiki-shuren Dojo directly from documents of Morihiro Saito Sensei. Mark Sensei spent over 10 years training in Japan, and spent everyday of the last five years of Saito Shihan’s life by his side. This semester in October you will have the chance to meet and train with Mark Sensei!


Jim Sullivan, Ph.D.
Instructor of Kinesiology
Penn State University
266 Rec Hall
University Park, PA 16823


  1. Thank you for this article. I only hope I can make it to the seminar to train with Larson Sensei and Sullivan Sensei.

    • Jim Sullivan says:

      We hope you come again Gasper! The seminar will be October 20-21 and as always Mark Sensei will put on a great seminar.

  2. I fail to see the mention of hitohiro Saito as a technical reference rather than morihiro’s students mentioned above? correct me if this is wrong but wouldn’t saito sensei’s son be a first mention?

  3. Jim Sullivan says:


    I believe you are misunderstanding the sentence you refer to. My students receive instruction directly from me. This semester they will have the opportunity to train with Mark Larson Sensei when he visits our campus as he has done since 2003. Thanks to partnering with Aikido Journal they will also get to know, or at least know of, Stan Pranin Sensei through the vast amount of articles and video he provides. That is why I mention the three of us. Of course Hitohira Saito Soku, and thankfully many others, are invaluable links to the Aikido of the Founder and Morhihiro Saito Shihan as well as having their own unique influences on Aikido.

  4. I am lucky enough to take Sullivan Sensei’s class and I got to meet Mark Sensei today in the class and I have learned a lot! I wish I could make it to the seminar, but unfortunately, I am going for canning.
    However, anyone else who can, def should attend :)! and it will be all worth it!

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