Master Saotome has devoted his entire adult life to the study and teaching of Aikido. He began as a special apprentice with the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba Morihei (O Sensei) in 1955 and continued for 15 years until the founder’s death in April of 1969.
From 1960 until 1975 Saotome sensei taught at the World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo, Japan. During this period he was accorded many positions, honor and achievements. He appeared publicly at many events in Japan and abroad for the purpose of spreading the understanding and knowledge of Aikido.
In 1975 Saotome sensei decided to leave his highly respected position as a senior instructor at World Aikido Headquarters in Tokyo to come to the United States. When asked about his decision to leave the home of his birth he responded: “The eyes of the world are on the United States. 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 their environment. The United States has the opportunity to set a great example.”
Hiroshi Ikeda is the founder and chief instructor of Boulder Aikikai, Inc., a non-profit school of Aikido in Boulder, Colorado, USA. He currently holds the rank of 7th dan through Mitsugi Saotome Shihan and the Aikido World Federation (Honbu Dojo). Ikeda Sensei began his study of Aikido in 1968, as a college student at Kokugakuin University in Tokyo. In 1978, he followed Saotome Sensei to Sarasota, Florida. In 1980, he moved to Boulder to establish Boulder Aikikai, an associate of Saotome Sensei’s Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. Ikeda Sensei lives with his family in Boulder, where he teaches at Boulder Aikikai . He also travels extensively as a guest instructor, conducting Aikido seminars at dojos around the country and abroad. Among Ikeda sensei’s travels he comes to our dojo in Maine regularly.
Studied Aikido from 1970 to 1980 at Hombu Dojo: Aikido World Headquarters in Japan and also with Seigo Yamaguchi Shihan and Yoshinobu Takeda sensei. At the same time He studied Japanese Sword, Language,classical music and Eastern Religion. Since 1985 Gleason sensei has continued to practice and teach under the auspices of Mitsugi Saotome sensei and the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba.
Gleason Sensei founded Shobu Aikido of Boston in 1980, there are presently Five Shobu affiliate dojos from the Midwest to the North East. His newest book is Words of Power: The Sacred Sounds of Kototama. He is also the author of The Spiritual Foundations of Aikido.
His first DVD, Aikido and Japanese Sword, shows how the movements in traditional swordwork and those in Aikido barehanded techniques are essentially one and the same.
Gleason Sensei is available for seminars worldwide.
For more than forty years, Mary Heiny Sensei has followed a path of physical and spiritual inspiration as a student and teacher of Aikido. She started this journey in 1965 after watching O’Sensei teach a class at Hombu Dojo in Tokyo, Japan. The effect of this first encounter has inspired her through long hours of training and study. “As I watched, a part of me could not believe what I was seeing and sought a rational explanation while another part of me understood immediately that this man had attained a profound understanding of nature and possessed amazing power.” After studying at Hombu Dojo from 1968 to 1973 with O’Sensei’s direct students and with Hikitsuchi Sensei, 10th dan, in Shingu, Heiny Sensei returned to the United States and began teaching at the University of California in Santa Cruz. In 1976, she went to Seattle and opened Seattle School of Aikido. After nine years, she turned that dojo over to her students and left to begin another journey. “I worked to develop an atmosphere in which students would, with me, approach Aikido as a living process to be engaged in rather than merely a series of rigidly unvarying forms to memorize. I emphasized that the techniques of Aikido are intended as tools for us to use in examining the nature of power, to engage in uncompromising self-scrutiny, and to realize our potential as powerful, compassionate, creative, self-aware human beings. I also emphasized that good technique is necessary to accomplish this. Diligent physical training must be combined with a thoughtful examination so that lessons of one’s life inform one’s training.” Sensei was invited to the Ottawa Aikikai in Canada in 1987 where she worked for three years developing the club into a full time dojo. When the school had grown to her satisfaction, she handed it over and embarked on another period of personal training and increased activity in teaching seminars and workshops in Canada, the US, and Europe. In 2001, Heiny Sensei returned to Seattle.
Heiny brings to every class, workshop, and seminar she teaches not only her years of aikido training and teaching, but also her extensive experience and study of Japanese culture, language, Shinto and Buddhist philosophies, and Non-Violent Communication. She strives always to communicate the beauty and challenge of O’sensei’s desire that we use Aikido to become empowered as creative, compassionate beings and learn to appreciate each others as members of one human family.