Morihiro Saito: “The Upside
Down World of Koshinage”

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“Koshinage, Aikido’s hip throws, are an essential part of Morihei
Ueshiba’s technical legacy from the Iwama years after World War II”

One of the ebooks comprising the collection of technical manuals by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, is a rare treatise of aikido’s koshinage techniques. Originally published in 1981, it contains a total of 26 koshinage–hip-throw techniques–arranged in sequential photos accompanied by both English and Japanese explanations. This Koshinage manual is the most complete compendium available on this portion of the aikido curriculum.

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At the time of the publication of “Takemusu Aiki: Koshinage,” Saito Sensei was 50 years old and in his physical prime. His mastery of technique and ability to organize and explain aikido’s vast curriculum are legendary. Saito Sensei’s skills and great attention to detail will be readily apparent to readers of this volume.

This manual is based on photos taken in the late 1970s inside the Iwama Dojo that record many aikido techniques, both basic and advanced. Some of the technical sequences from this collection of photos were published during this time frame in bilingual format in “Aiki News.” Saito Sensei’s uke in these photos is Jason Yim of California who was an uchideshi in the Iwama Dojo at that time.

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All together, two manuals were published, this one on koshinage, and an earlier volume presenting numerous techniques from katatedori grabs. The preparation of these manuals took the form of Saito Sensei tape-recording explanations for the respective techniques while viewing photo layouts. From this, a Japanese text version was created which was then translated into English.

Only about 200 or 300 copies of this “Koshinage” manual were printed. Most of these were sold within a relatively short time. The booklet eventually went out of print. High-resolution scans from an original copy of “Takemusu Aiki: Koshinage” were made to produce this ebook. Minor layout changes–mainly the alignment and centering of elements on the page–were made using photo editing software to enhance the final appearance of the ebook. Books like this in PDF format offer a number of advantages over of the printed medium, most notably the ability to zoom in on photo details, a great aid in the study of these techniques.

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Biography of Morihiro Saito

morihiro-saito-faceMorihiro Saito was a skinny, unimpressive lad of eighteen when he first met Morihei Ueshiba in Iwama in July 1946. It was shortly after the end of World War II and practice of the martial arts was prohibited by the GHQ. The founder had been “officially” retired in Iwama for several years, although in reality he was engaged in intensive shugyo in these secluded surroundings. Indeed, it was during the Iwama years during and after the war that Morihei Ueshiba was in the process of perfecting modem aikido.

The young Saito was given little encouragement initially and had to endure the intensive, often painful training silently. Gradually however, Saito’s tenacity paid off and in a few short years he became one of the mainstays of the founder’s country dojo. Moreover, he had the advantage of being employed by the National Railways on a 24-hour on 24-hour off basis that left him ample free time to spend at his teacher’s side. In addition to the hours he spent in the dojo, Saito assisted the founder in all aspects of his daily life, including numerous chores and farm work. Although the work was demanding and Ueshiba was a strict mentor, Saito’s reward was the unique opportunity to serve as the founder’s training partner; particularly in the practice of the aiki ken and jo, over a period of some 15 years. Morihei Ueshiba would usually train with weapons during the morning hours when regular students were not present. Thus, it was partly due to his innate martial talent and perseverance, and partly due to his flexible work schedule that Morihiro Saito became the inheritor of Morihei Ueshiba’s technical legacy.

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By the late 1950s, Saito Sensei had become a powerhouse and one of the top shihan in the Aikikai system, teaching regularly at the Iwama Dojo in Ueshiba’s absence. He also began instructing on a weekly basis at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo in Tokyo starting in 1961 and was the only teacher besides the founder himself to be permitted to teach aiki weapons there. His classes were very popular and many Tokyo students would gather on Sunday mornings to practice taijutsu and the aiki ken and jo with him. When the founder passed away in April 1969, Saito became dojo-cho of the Iwama Dojo and was also entrusted to take care of the Aiki Shrine Morihei Ueshiba had built nearby.

It was the publication in 1973 of the first of what was to become a five-volume series of Japanese-English technical books that established Saito Sensei’s reputation as one of the foremost technicians among aikido shihan. These volumes contain hundreds of aiki techniques, including taijutsu, aiki ken and jo, and kaeshiwaza.

In 1974 Saito Sensei made his first instructional trip abroad to the United States. His encyclopedic knowledge of aikido techniques greatly impressed seminar attendees. Saito Sensei traveled abroad more than times during his long teaching career.

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The popularity of his books and his extensive foreign travels resulted in the Iwama Dojo becoming a Mecca for foreign aikido students wishing to train intensively and gain experience in the use of the aiki ken and jo. From the mid-1970s forward, literally thousands of aikidoka journeyed to Iwama from abroad to study with Saito Sensei. This trend continued unabated until his passing in 2002. He is succeeded by his son, Hitohiro Saito.

The Koshinage manual forms part of the collection of technical books by Morihiro Saito Sensei described below.

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THANK YOU FOR CONSIDERING THIS SPECIAL SALE!

Aikido Journal has published a series of ebooks authored by Morihiro Saito, 9th dan, in high-resolution PDF format. The collection currently consists of 8 volumes in which Saito Sensei covers more than 430 empty-handed aikido techniques. We believe this series of technical manuals to be the most complete treatise on aikido technique available at the present time. With such a detailed technical reference at hand, you will be able to steadily improve your understanding and execution of aikido techniques.

Readers will be able to download their ebooks within minutes of purchase. No more paying for shipping, no more customs charges, or lost packages, no more waiting! This offer is available for the special price of $49.95.

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Comments

  1. Charles Warren says:

    I think it’s well known that my foundation is Iwama. I learned koshinage this way. No. I didn’t get it right away, but in my biased opinion this is an easy, clear way to present the technique. I’ve played with a lot of stuff and haven’t found a better way.

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