Q: What is Aikido

A: Aikido is martial art created by the genious of Morihei Ueshiba. It is a synthesis of martial arts that he studied vigorously and spiritual path he threaded.

Q: What is Iwama Ryu

A: -One day in July 1981, I was conducting an interview with Zenzaburo Akazawa, a prewar uchideshi of Morihei Ueshiba from the Kobukan Dojo period. Mr. Akazawa proceeded to show me a technical manual published in 1938 titled Budo which I had never seen before. It contained photos of some fifty techniques demonstrated by the founder himself. As I slowly turned the pages of the manual, I was amazed to see in the photos that the execution of several basics techniques such as ikkyo, iriminage and shihonage were virtually identical to what I had learned in Iwama under Saito Sensei. Here was the founder himself demonstrating what I had up until then regarded as "Iwama-style" techniques--Stanley Pranin

-As he often called his art “traditional Aikido,” his art unquestionably carried the weight of O-Sensei’s direct transmission in its essence as well as from the perspective of historical fact-- T.K.Chiba

Morihiro Saito started aikido training at 18 years old in Iwama Dojo, 1946. From this day till the deat of Morihei Ueashiba, not only he trained regularly but also Morihiro Saito assisted the founder in all aspects of his daily life. So he was in unique possition to serve as training partner for the O'sensei, being exposed to complete teaching of the founder.When the founder passed away in April 1969, Saito became dojo-cho of the Iwama Dojo and was also entrusted to take care of the Aiki Shrine Morihei Ueshiba had built nearby. After his passing on May 13, 2002 his son Hitohiro Saito continued his father's work in preserving and teaching the Iwama Style Aikido.


Q: Statement of the Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai Kaicho

A: 10 months have passed since the Iwama group left the Aikikai Federation and became an independent group. It gives me great pleasure to tell all our members that I have been developing my activities slowly but surely with confident steps. In this letter, I would like to thank, from the bottom of my heart, all of you who have been constantly supporting me and offering me your sincere collaborations.

First of all, I would like to tell you about what happened after my father, Morihiro Saito, died on May 13th 2002. I visited the head office of the Aikikai Federation together with the chairperson of the committee of the official funeral ceremony for my father, and we had a meeting with Doshu and another person from the All Japan Aikido Federation

The following is what was asked of us to do at that meeting:

  • To return the name of "Ibaraki Dojocho" to the Aikikai

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  • That the Saito family will cease to use the title of "the Aiki Shrine Caretaker"
  • That we will stop conferring the Iwama-ryu certificates, if we remain inside the Aikikai Federation.

I had already been thinking that I should return the Ibaraki dojo in the near future so I replied immediately that there was no problem in agreeing to the first and second requests. However, I was a little perplexed about their third request.

As everyone knows, the training we presently do at Iwama, is different from the training held at many other aikido dojos. This is because we have faithfully preserved the Founder's teachings and my father was always very proud of this. This training is based on the principle of the union of Ken, Tai-jutsu and Jo and was transmitted only to my father. My father dedicated his whole life to working with the Founder in the fields and woods, helping him with farming and taking care of trees. He served the Founder in full resonance, literally offering his body and soul. He used to say, " I am teaching sincerely the techniques taught to me by the Founder because this Ibaraki dojo belongs to the Founder alone". The Iwama-ryu group with its own grading system was created for those who were touched by my father's way of living and who chose to follow him as their teacher. These grades were mostly given to his students outside of Japan.

Therefore my answer to Doshu regarding the third matter was that it was my father's wish to preserve the Iwama-ryu and I asked him to do one thing in return for my acceptance of his request. This was to announce in their official newsletter that Iwama-ryu is practicing the Founder's aikido. If the Aikikai could show their recognition and acceptance of us, I thought, then the Aikikai certificates would become a shining treasure for all the students of the Iwama-ryu. However, this did not happen and no one in the Aikikai Federation was informed that this meeting between the Aikikai and us took place.

I thought I should not bother the Aikikai Federation or Doshu with the question of the Iwama-ryu during the mourning period of three years for my father, so I was not planning to give out any Iwama-ryu certificate. However, after less than one year, my students began to ask me, after receiving the Aikikai certificates, to give them the Iwama-ryu certificate as well.

After my father passed away, the elder students of my father wanted to become independent and founded their own organization with the name of "Takemusu Aiki". They also started to give out their own certificates to their students. In this situation when a split was happening inside our group, there were still many students who chose to follow me in the same way as they followed my father. They are the true treasure my father left for me. Therefore, when I was asked to give the Iwama-ryu certificates, I could not refuse their request.

We, the Saito family, will continue to live next to the Ibaraki dojo. We offer our prayer at the Aiki Shrine and wish the Ueshiba family good health. We feel grateful to the people who are now taking care of the Ibaraki Shibu Dojo. I think it is the best way that many people share the task of taking care of the Aiki Shrine and the dojo.

I will continue to elevate and improve myself, maturing and developing the aikido techniques. At the same time I will continue to follow the Founder and dedicate myself to preserving the teachings of my father. I deeply wish to work with you, and I would like to meet and connect with many people. It is my sincere desire to help as many people as possible to understand "the principle of the true basic techniques" of the Founder.

With best regards,

September 2004, at the International Seminar in Italy, Europe

Hitohiro Saito



Q: What is Iwama Shinshin Aiki Shurenkai

A: On 21st February, 2004, the new association founded by Hitohiro Saito Sensei was inaugurated with the name of "IWAMA SHIN SHIN AIKI SHURENKAI".

SHIN SHIN - to believe in gods

"Since O-Sensei believed in gods, he started every morning with reading norito (prayers for the gods). Then he did cleaning and farming, afterwards he trained. In the evening he read again norito and trained. Then the day was over. By reading norito and praying, O-Sensei attained enlightenment. I use the name shinshin to ensure that we consider the value of the heart."

SHUREN - serious practice

"I want to continue the training O-Sensei gave to my father and me. My father fulfilled this task until he passed. Now I have to continue this heritage to teach interested Aikidoka in a serious daily practice. It was very important for O-Sensei to teach the basic forms every day and so did my father for decades. In Iwama we don't practice based on something we watched, we practise something which is defined very clearly in every single step. You can't learn this within one or two years, it takes a long time."

JUKU - school

"You shouldn't attach your heart too much to a place, a certain thing or money. You need money to live and you might have a good place and dojo, but you shouldn't be attached to it too much and fight on account of this. Keep your mind free and and don't become stiff. Last year I was able to leave a very important place, because I wasn't too much attached to it. To be able to continue walking on the path, you shouldn't be too much attached to things, otherwise there is no progression anymore."

NISSHIN GEPPO - daily progress

"You have to be patient an practice step by step. You should always feel like a beginner until the end of your life. This way to train always existed in Iwama. I will continue that and I will always keep it in mind when I practice with others."