“Morihiro Saito Sensei… Center stage, where he belongs!” by Stanley Pranin


“Morihiro Saito is a giant of a figure in aikido who has no match as a technician”

In recent weeks, I have lamented the fact that a number of famous figures of earlier eras of aikido history have been neglected or outright expunged from mainstream accounts. Among these important names figures my personal teacher, Morihiro Saito. After serving the Ueshiba family, and studying and teaching aikido from 1946-2002, he was summarily excised from the records of the Iwama Dojo following his death. Various other important personages have received similar treatment. I have resigned myself to this fact, and by way of compensation, attempted to give these important figures their due through my writings and publications.

Recently, however, something else has occurred that caught me totally by surprise. Allow me to elaborate. Since I have long been associated with instructors and practitioners who follow the Iwama approach based on the teachings of Saito Sensei, I often hear accounts of happenings and trends in this arena. It seems that the Iwama groups are roughly divided into two camps: the old style advocates who adhere closely to Saito Sensei’s teachings, and the new group that favors the methods of Saito Sensei’s son, Hitohiro Saito Sensei.

Hitohiro Sensei is truly an outstanding exponent and teacher of aikido. There can be no doubt of that. At the same time, Morihiro Saito is a giant of a figure in aikido annals who has no match as a technician. While compiling the “Complete Guide to Aikido”, I was reminded over and over again of his outstanding abilities and teaching acumen. Saito Sensei formed tens of thousands of young people in aikido, many of whom have gone on to reach expert status in their own right.

This week in conjunction with the launch of the “Complete Guide to Aikido”, we are featuring a number of video clips from the included technical material. If you never had an opportunity to train with Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, or are not familiar with his extraordinary talents, then by all means have a look. Prepare to be blown away!

Watch this video of Morihiro Saito, 9th dan

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