Mitsugi Saotome Shihan is one of the few former OSensei’s uchi-deshi’s still alive. He seen with his eyes all those things we read about. Sensei fully devoted himself to the Aikido and Ueshibas and you will learn why inside.
Getting into Aikido Life
Mitsugi Saotome was born on March 7, 1937. He was doing Judo as a teenager and was quite successful. In 1954 his Judo teacher took him to the Kuwamori Dojo (one of the Aikikai oldest Dojos in Japan) where Seigo Yamaguchi was in charge of a class.
After the class, Yamaguchi Sensei told me to grab his fingers. The moment I grabbed them I was thrown. I didn’t know how it happened and thought I had fallen by myself by tripping on a corner of the tatami mats. So I asked him to do it again. I think I was thrown four or five times.
Mitsugi Saotome was impressed much with the Yamaguchi Sensei and with the Kisshomaru Ueshiba’s appearance later. He got in.
Starting from the 1955 Saotome Sensei was learning under the O’Sensei in Hombu. He wanted to become an uchi-deshi. However, he understood that Kisshomaru Doshu couldn’t afford it – he had not enough income. Mitsugi went to Kyoto then and taught Aikido in the school for the handicapped. It took some years to get back on a desired track.
Becoming an uchi deshi was a turning-point in my life. If I hadn’t become an uchi deshi, my life would be very different now. When I started as an uchi deshi, Doshu taught class in the morning and evening for a few students. Today, of course, the mat at Hombu Dojo is completely filled. But, those days, when there were ten students on the mats, Doshu would say, “Today we have a big class!”
A list of the uchi-deshis of this era was filled with: Tamura Sensei, Yamada Sensei, Kanai Sensei, Sugano Sensei, Chiba Sensei, etc.
Becoming a Teacher
Saotome Shihan was teaching in the Hombu since 1960. He a became a Senior instructor and took a position of Chief Weapons Instructor which he held up to 1975 when he decided to make changes in his life.
I meditated on Osensei’s spirit for three days and three nights and I felt it was his wish that I should go. This country is a great experiment, a melting pot of people from many different cultural backgrounds living together, the world condensed into one nation. The goal of aikido and Osensei’s dream is that all the peoples of the world live together as one family, in harmony with each other and with their environment. The United States has the opportunity to set a great example.
United States of America
Sensei established the Aikido Schools of the Ueshiba in the USA. He also kept a connection with the Aikikai. A list with around a hundred affiliated Dojos overall where Saotome Shihan serves as a Chief instructor with can’t imagine how much students. You may find Hiroshi Ikeda among his students with a personal article on a site and many others.
Saotome Sensei has published a number of highly respected books on Aikido. A Light on Transmission, Aikido and the Harmony of Nature, The Principles of Aikido, and Aikido: Living by Design. He has also authored several training videotapes like the next one for example.
Mitsugi Saotome currently lives in the state of Florida in the US. He continues to teach at the Aiki Shrine Dojo in Myakka City and comes regularly for teaching to the Shobukan Dojo in Washington.
In addition to regularly scheduled national and international seminars, Saotome Sensei has taught many special seminars including a U.S. Military Special Forces seminar, special training of the U.S. Security Forces in Washington, D.C. and has spoken before the United Nations General Assembly on the role of Aikido in world peace efforts.
Let’s follow Mitsugi Saotome Sensei on a facebook page, the ASU site. And if you are still hungry use one link and two link to read Saotome related articles because he shares his knowledge generously.