Hitohiro Saito Soke, began his Aikido education at the tender age of seven under the direct tutelage of the Founder, Morihei Ueshiba. He continued this training under O'Sensei until the master's death in 1969, at which time he inevitably continued his aikido education under O'Sensei's chief disciple, his own father, Morihiro Saito, 9th dan. During this period, he attended various schools to study religions of all denominations, in particular the Omoto-Kyo religion, this religious path was the same taken by O'Sensei and which greatly influenced the development of Aikido. It was also during this period as well that Hitohiro schooled in Sendai, training under Hanzawa Sensei, and practicing in Osaka with the famous calligraphy teacher and Aikido student of O'Sensei, Abe Sensei. To further emulate his teacher, Hitohiro also practices daily Chinkon Kishin to enhance his daily life and being.
Until his father's passing in May 2002, Hitohiro Saito taught weekly in the Tokyo dojo and trained in the Iwama dojo. There are many technical photos in the late Saito Sensei's five volumes of "Traditional Aikido" which portrays Hitohiro not only in the displaying of techniques, but also as a technician as well.
Hitohiro is the only son of Morihiro Saito and the heir apparent to his father's legacy. He has not only managed to maintain the quality and structure of O'Sensei's aikido, but also excels at being a dedicated father to his five children and a loving husband to his wife Hisako Saito. Hitohiro has earned the respect and admiration of his peers in his own right, and commands the highest respect within his community through his many years of charitable contributions and community service, and his enthusiastic support and participation of all the local traditional arts and customs such as the Matsuri festivals.
Hitohiro Saito is not only a divine teacher, but also a gifted sculptor, painter, and calligraphist. To further explore his desire for the arts, Hitohiro is also a professional Japanese Chef, which he studied for three years and founded his own Soba restaurant in Iwama. However, due to his obligation to the practice of aikido and to his father's legacy, he chose to retire the restaurant and is completely dedicated to the development and teachings of O'Sensei.
Kai Cho Hitohiro Saito, founder of the Iwama Shin Shin Aiki Shurenkai in Iwama, Japan, has taught thousands of foreigners serving their apprenticeships in this Mecca of Aikido, the Iwama dojo. Devoted to preserving the spiritual and technical tradition of O-Sensei's Aikido, Hitohiro Saito has established a reputation for unparalleled technique and teaching methods. He conducts worldwide annual seminars in the United States, Japan, France, Germany, Russia, Portugal, Turkey, Australia and throughout South America, to name a few. Hitohiro Saito possesses an exceptional level of understanding of the art and continues to deliver aikido to an audience that is so fortunate to receive his unsurpassed spiritual and technical expertise.
"I am going new ways to be able to tie up to O-Sensei's spirituality and heart."
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 enlightment. 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 fullfilled 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 practice 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."
With best thanks to Horst Schwieckerath, Aikido Journal 3/2004.