What is Iwama Takemusu Aikido?

Morihiro Saito Shihan

Takemusu Aikido is referred to as Morihei Ueshiba’s traditional Aikido, which he taught every day in Iwama and Morihiro Saito Sensei handed down to us faithfully and accurately.

To better understand why Iwama Takemusu Aikido differs from other styles practiced all over the world, we should consider that Aikido did not begin its international diffusion until after the end of World War II. The art, as it is mostly practiced today, derives more from the interpretations of leading teachers and other disciples of Morihei Ueshiba than from the Aikido of the Founder himself.

Beginning from the 1950’s, these well-known instructors introduced their own modifications to the art. The reason for this can be explained by the events relating to World War II, the Founder’s long period of seclusion in Iwama and his son Kisshomaru’s increasing participation and responsibility in the organizational and administrative activities of Aikikai Headquarters in Tokyo (Honbu Dojo). Almost all the senior disciples had to abandon their training in Iwama – many during the War, others immediately after it.

In those days life in Iwama was really severe. The widespread poverty and lack of food compelled people to work hard to get a living, so O-Sensei’s disciples could no longer go to the dojo. During that difficult period only Morihiro Saito Sensei stood always by the Founder, serving him even in the most humble duties.

Even if it was a very hard life, Saito Sensei had the great opportunity to spend more time by the Founder than any other person, either before or after the War.

O-Sensei trusted his devoted student deeply and taught him everything – theoretically and practically. Saito Sensei never dared to interpret or change what he had received from the Founder; he just confined himself to memorize, study and help his Sensei. Saito Sensei spent all his life preserving the original Aikido of the Founder.

Saito Sensei’s training approach was unique from that of other leading instructors in that it emphasizes the same importance of taijutsu (empty-handed techniques) and buki waza (weapons techniques), which includes the study of ken (sword) and jo (staff). O-Sensei looked upon this unavoidable connection between taijutsu, ken and jo practice as a determining factor for studying Aikido and Saito Sensei’s training method is based on the punctual application of these principles.

By Paolo Corallini Shihan – Copyright © Takemusu Aikido Association Italy. Morihiro Saito Sensei photograph Copyright © Aikido Journal.

About Takemusu Aikido South Africa

The Takemusu Aikido Association South Africa (TAASA), formally Iwama Ryu™ South Africa, is a free group of black-belted practitioners of Aikido based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Our aim is to promote and spread the traditional teaching method of Morihiro Saito Sensei, direct student of the Founder of Aikido, to all communities in South Africa.