Saito Sensei- Tributes and Memories


Patricia Yarrow's description of Saito Sensei's public The Public Funeral of Saito Sensei, a Personal Recollection 2002jun22-23

Stan Prannin's Remembering Morihiro Saito Sensei recalls his long association with Saito Sensei. You'll need to sign on a member to Aikido Journal to see most of the article with the photographs.

Bill Witt's My Iwama Teacher recounts his long association with Saito Sensei. Online

Hoa Newens Saito Sensei's Legacy reviews the inspiration as a teacher he gained from Saito Sensei. It is included in the Aikido Institute's compilation of memories. Online

Gaku Homma's Aiki Jinja Aiki Jinja Tai Sai Festival describes his return to Iwama on April 29, 2002, after some 30 years for the final Tai Sai hosted by Saito Sensei. Online with photographs

Chiba Shihan's A Memorial Address for Saito Sensei

Joran Fagerlund's A Big Heart is Silent written two days after Saito Sensei's passing away. His photo is on the 80's page. Online with photograph

Mark Larson's True to the Way distills his nine years in Iwama as training with Saito Sensei--The Master, The Man, The Legacy.

Ethan Weisgard's Homage to My Master conveys much about the uchi deshi relationship and his relationships.


Share your stories about Saito Sensei. I'll post any sent to me.

BILL WITT reminisces about Morihiro Saito Sensei.

Saito Sensei was a powerful man, wasn't he? Once, in 1969, I went to Iwama with Terry Dobson and a few others and Sensei gave us our intro to shuriken. Terry brought out this big ugly, handmade butcher knife which he said was made as a throwing knife by a friend in Chicago. We were in the dojo and Sensei had set up a tatami mat against the wall opposite the shomen. He had thrown the shuriken different ways and told us how to train.

Terry gave him the knife and told him how to throw it--holding it by the point. Sensei tried several times and couldn't do it. He grunted a bit and held it like a negishi-ryu shuriken, threw it the length of the dojo, through the tatami mat and into the wall. There was such a solid thud, when it hit that we knew something else happened too. Someone tried to take the knife out but it wouldn't move. The tatami was slid out over the knife and there it was--a good halfway into the wall. Sensei just laughed.

I have never been able to throw the shuriken the same distance with any consistency, but then I don't practice with it all that much.

[Addendum] For the record he threw the knife into the wall between the dojo and the six mat room.

Posted by permission from Aikido Journal, October 21st, 2004

DAVID ALEXANDER-We have a new section on our website entitled "Iwama Monogatari (Tales from Iwama)" containing old stories that you might find interesting, including the following:

Demo at Tsuchiura

Saito-sensei, Dennis Tatoian, Hans Goto, myself and some Iwama locals participated in a demonstration at the Air Self Defense Force base in Tsuchiura sometime in the early '70s. The demo was outside, and it was raining. The mats were tatami covered with green plastic, which turned out to be very slippery when wet. Whenever Sensei threw us, we slid across the mat for about 10 feet. They should have called it bowling. It was a lot of fun.

Afterwards they gave us tour of the Kamikaze museum. It was a surprise that they trained many of the Kamikaze pilots at this base. There were a number of photos of the graduating classes. Most of the pilots were just kids, maybe in their mid teens. Our guide explained that they were only taught how to take off and fly. Time was not wasted teaching them to land, because this was not an option.

Words of Wisdom

Saito-sensei was a perfect gentleman at all times, and set a sterling example for us. He was especially proper with his female students. One day he took several of us aside and gave us two pieces of advice for conduct as Aikido instructors.

  1. Don't try to make a living teaching Aikido

  2. Don't fool around with your female students

History has shown the wisdom of this advice.

David Alexander's Iwama Monogatari. The Westlake Village Aikido California website once hosted his priceless reminiscences of living in Iwama and training with Saito Sensei during "the early years". They will be reposted here as soon as I uncover how to ftp new files up to the takemuseu server.

STAN PRANIN recalling Aikido Friendship Demos. Aikido Journal 118. Written 1999. The 1978 demonstration was my second one and the first I attended after relocating to Japan. I recall Morihiro Saito Sensei's thrilling kokyunage demonstration using Shigemi Inagaki and Bruce Klickstein as ukes. Saito Sensei moved with the power of a freight train and Inagaki-san ended up with a separated shoulder on that occasion! I also have a vivid recollection of Hiroshi Isoyama wowing the audience with his spectacular technique which included a finale where he lifts his opponent up over his head before sending him crashing to the mat.

ROBERT MOLERIO About 15 years ago my dojo hosted Nakazono Sensei to give a lecture on the Omoto-kyo teachings. I remember asking him about Saito Sensei's and Chiba Sensei's style of aikido and his response was "Chiba Sensei dojo- killing dojo...Saito Sensei dojo - breaking dojo.

DENIS DIAS I think Sensei would have really like the site as well as all the deshi/uchideshi coming from all over the world for the funeral. I only met him in 1996 and while I can't say that I knew him well, he has had a great impact on my wife Wanda and I---both on and off the mat. I've had my share of "Denis dame!" of course :) :) which I now remember fondly. Strangely enough, in 2001 in Iwama, my last dame was "Denis dame". No exclamation mark required. It was unusually gentle. I'll always miss him.

Aikido Journal Articles about Saito Sensei

1978 Interview with Morihiro Saito Sensei (1). Discusses Saito Sensei's earliest training days and the events leading to his marriage

1990 Interview with Hitohiro Saito from the Aikido Journal #113

1991 Interview with Morihiro Saito from the Aikido News #88 Discusses Saito Sensei's early teaching days in Tokyo, his philosophy of training with weapons and atemi

1996 Morihiro Saito Celebrates 50 Years in Aikido

2001 Iwama-the Birthplace of Aikido from the Aikido Journal #121