All my best wishes to everybody for the New Year. I’d like to take this occasion to thank all the people who helped me last year, and I sincerely hope 2006 will be a fruitful year.

This year, I am planning to give seminars in the Phillipines (January), in Slovakia (March), in Sweden (May), in Australia and Italy (June), as well as in Germany and the US (October). Also, in Japan, a seminar is scheduled for June in Osaka.

As I explained last year, I would strongly like to encourage all people practicing Aikido abroad, both instructors and students, to learn Japanese. Indeed, from the third Dan, I would expect all aikido students to understand basic Japanese. There is no urgency, I’m sure you can use five or ten minutes after training to study together. This should not incur any additional expense. I thank instructors for their kind comprehension concerning this matter. Aikido is not only about studying techniques: directly accessing the Founder’s words and ideas with your own sensibility is definitely an important issue. Please keep in mind that interpreting the Founder’s words directly from your own understanding, and not through others’ explanations, is the starting point of Takemusu-Aiki, the Founder’s original Aikido.

Hitohiro Saito.