Waka Sensei Nidaime Morihiro Saito in Australia

We recently hosted Nidaime Saito Morihiro Waka Sensei for three days over the Australia Day long weekend and came away inspired to continue practicing O’Sensei’s Aikido. Waka Sensei only makes one, at most two trips a year overseas and yet went out of his way to make time to come to Australia, for which we are incredibly grateful.

Following a great tradition in the Saito family, Waka Sensei was the embodiment of focus and intent, understanding and insight, and powerful execution, complimented by clear and careful instruction. I particularly enjoyed hearing from many of our junior participants how much they appreciated the time he spent with them.

Waka Sensei made clear many times during the weekend, just how important the basics are. That Kihon and Ki-no-nagare are not separate. Ken, Jo and Taijutsu are all interrelated. That if we are unable to perform a basic version of a technique, we will be unable to perform the multitude of variations.

Waka Sensei was at pains on several occasions to make clear that O’Sensei’s Aikido is more than just technique. This includes Chinkon at the start of each day; paying close attention to our Senpai and Sensei’s instruction on the mat; and the proper etiquette at all times. Indeed, Waka Sensei made it clear that whilst Iwama Aikido in Australia is on the right path technically, he would like instructors and students alike to study and develop a deeper understanding of all aspects of Aikido practice.

Waka Sensei noted that he of course wants to come to Australia again, but in order to fully understand the technique we must also (he might say critically) understand the culture and that the best way to achieve this is in Iwama. Waka Sensei reiterated how important it is that everyone, no matter how long we have been practicing, regularly visit Iwama in order to become fully immersed.

We’d like to thank the 32 attendees who braved the summer heat, the Aikido community, and of course the Saito family for their support, without which this special weekend would not have been possible.

By Simon Harris

Photographs by Aikishurendojo Adelaide