Aikido Lineage = Quality Control
The founder of Aikido was regarded as one of the great martial artists in history, along with Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo, and Yang Lu Chan, founder Yang Style Tai Chi. Morihiro Saito Sensei, the longest (23 years) live in student of the founder, was widely known as one of his two top students. He took over the founder's dojo as well as the Aiki Shrine in Iwama after his death. The other top student became chief instructor of the founder's second dojo in Tokyo under the founder's son. No other direct students of the founder were awarded this stature, responsible for training the next generation of teachers in Aikido. Mark Larson Sensei studied intensively with Saito Sensei for nearly 10 years, and was given the name Takuto by him. Takuto means the preeminent leader of a tradition with the responsibility to maintain it. Thusly our dojo's lineage directly accesses the feeling of training with the founder as it was preserved by his top students as opposed to direct students dispatched to the US who spent more limited time with him.
Saito Sensei specifically named Larson Sensei's dojo as an Aiki Shuren Dojo (“austere training of Aiki”), along with his own son. We are honored to have the opportunity to train with the person who most closely represents Saito Sensei in the United States, and to have our dojo also given the Aiki Shuren name.
Steve Kanney, chief instructor of New York "Still Mind" Aiki Shuren Dojo, attended seminars with Morihiro Saito (9th Dan) 1979 to 1997. He was unable to move to Japan to become his direct student. He studied the system of flowing technique as practiced in Tokyo from Sugano Sensei (8th Dan - a direct student of the founder for 6 years) from 1989 to 2009. Nobayashi Tamura (9th Dan), most senior teacher in the Western Hemisphere in that system, explained the teachers that the founder dispatched to the US in the 1960's were sent to teach basics. Sugano Sensei was sent in 1989, after building federations in Australia and Belgium.