Mitsugi Saotome, Shihan (“Sensei”) is our head instructor at Aikido Shobukan Dojo and Founder of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. He was a disciple (“uchi-deshi”) of Morihei Ueshiba (“O-Sensei”) the founder of Aikido for fifteen years until O-Sensei passed away in 1969. While with O-Sensei, Sensei studied intensely the practice and philosophy of the founder’s own studies of Aikido and Takemusu Aiki. Sensei was soon promoted to a senior instructor position at World Aikido Headquarters, the seat of Aikikai Foundation today. In 1975, Sensei felt compelled to come to the United States, and remained ever since as a model Aikidoka for the world.
When asked what compelled Sensei to come to the United States, he replied, “I meditated on O-Sensei’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 O-Sensei’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.”
Today, Sensei resides in Florida, his first home in the United States, where he remains close with Patty Saotome, his wife and those close to him. He travels to the Aiki Shrine frequently, as this was his prior residence, leading keiko with dedicated practitioners around the world. Sensei also travels to dojo around the United States to give seminars, lectures, sharing time, and sharing space with his students.
Sensei founded Aikido Shobukan Dojo, with some of his earliest students, after his invitation to Sarasota, Florida. As one of Sensei’s homes, he visits the D.C. dojo for about eight weeks every year. While here, Sensei often studies, teaches, and lectures, along with some city shopping he enjoys very much.
Saotome Sensei has given many demonstrations of his art both here and abroad, among them demonstrations for the International Peace Academy and Diplomatic Community at the Japan House in New York City. He has written two books: Aikido and the Harmony of Nature, an in-depth study of the relationship of Aikido with the moment and process of natural phenomena, and The Principles of Aikido, both published by Shambhala Publications, Inc.
We are extremely honored and proud to have such a close relationship with Sensei, and hope that everyone can benefit from his teachings. The dojo is not only an expression of Aiki, but also an expression of the sense of duty, obligation, and mission that Sensei and everyone at Aikido Shobukan Dojo and in Aikido Schools of Ueshiba feel day to day. We look forward to seeing you on the mat.