The practice of Aikido in Iwama
Saito Sensei said that Aikido as practiced in Iwama is the Aikido of O'Sensei. In practice, he always emphasizes the importance
of solid understanding of the basic techniques and the relationship of the Bukiwaza to that of Taijutsu.
Saito Sensei's teaching differs from other Aikido teachers by starting from the solid and strong practice as opposed to
Kino Nagare or flowing techniques. The Hanmi is taught from the very start and as the Founder used to do, he starts Keiko
with Tai No Henko and Morotedori Kokyu Ho. He says that in practice of Aikido, there is the hard, the soft, the flowing and
Ki level techniques. But one has to study and learn step by step gradually progressing each time. According to the Founder,
one cannot practice Kino Nagare techniques unless he is a Sandan. In Iwama, students are taught first how to execute a technique
after they been grabbed. Kino Nagare techniques are taught after a solid understanding of Kihon is achieved. Keeping faithful
to the original teaching of O'Sensei.
In addition to the practice of the solid foundation, Saito Sensei teaches Aiki-Ken and the Aiki-Jo, the same weapons curriculum
that the Founder has developed for the development of one's Aikido. O'Sensei said that"everything is one, everything
is the same", referring to the practice of the Taijustu and Bukiwaza.
This is the way Saito Sensei learned Aikido directly from O'Sensei and this is the way he said he will teach Aikido,
the Founder's Aikido. Through the years, this style of approach was called Iwama Style Aikido. For Saito Sensei this is O'Sensei
Aikido, the way the Founder wants his Aikido to be practiced.