Morihiro Saito Sensei was born on March 31, 1928 in a small village near the Iwama dojo.
He began his Aikido training when he was eighteen years old. He had practiced Kendo as
well as Shito-ryu Karate and Judo. Saito Sensei was accepted by O-Sensei Ueshiba as a
student, and this was the beginning of a very long and close relationship. Due to his
24-hour on and 24-hour off working shift with the Japanese National Railroad, Saito
Sensei had a lot of time for training at the Ueshiba dojo. Early morning classes were
devoted to prayer at the Aiki Shrine followed by weapons practice. This was the period
when the founder was deeply engrossed in the study of Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo and their
relationship to empty-handed techniques.
Not only was Saito Sensei a diligent student, but he also helped the founder in his
daily life and took part in caring for the rice fields and other farming tasks. The
founder was clearly impressed with the dedication shown by Saito Sensei. O-Sensei
gave Saito Sensei a plot of land on his property and this is where Saito Sensei
then built his house and lived with his wife and children side by side with the
By the late 1950s, Saito Sensei had become one of the top instructors in the Aikikai system.
He taught at the Iwama dojo when the founder was out travelling. Saito Sensei also instructed
on a weekly basis at the Hombu Dojo in the 1960s, teaching Aiki-Ken and Aiki-Jo for the last
fifteen minutes of each Sunday morning class.
After the founder's passing on April 26, 1969, Saito Sensei became chief instructor of the
Iwama Dojo as well as guardian of the Aiki Shrine close to the dojo.
Saito Sensei made his first trip abroad in 1974 to teach seminars in California. His lucid
teaching methods made him very popular among Aikido practitioners the world over.
He travelled extensively throughout the world teaching from 1974 until 2000.
In particular, there are large groups of Saito Sensei's students in the U.S.A,
Sweden, Denmark, Italy, Germany, Australia and Great Britain.
Saito Sensei continued the tradition of apprenticeship that he himself had
experienced by running the "uchi-deshi" or live-in student system in the
Iwama Dojo. In this way, people were able to live and breathe Aikido in
the same dojo that the founder of the art had built and trained in.
This gave students from all over the world not only an exceptional
opportunity to train the techniques of Aikido in the actual dojo of
the founder, but also to get a taste of the culture to which these
techniques and adherent principles belong. With Japanese and foreign
Aikido practitioners training, working and living together, this was
truly a wonderful example of sharing the rich cultural heritage of Budo,
in its traditional form, with the people of the world.
Morihiro Saito passed away on May, 15 2002.