Aikido Westchester NY, through its association with the Takemusu Aikido Association is part of a large international organization (Aikikai) that encompasses the majority of Aikido schools in the world. The chief instructor, Steve Kanney, continues in the tradition of Morihiro Saito Sensei, one of the foremost students of the founder of Aikido.
Founder of Aikido
Top Student of the Founder
Senior Student of Saito Sensei
Aikido founder, Morihei Ueshiba (1883-1969), was one of the few martial artists in world history known for taking on any adversary and remaining undefeated. He holds similar ranks as the famed swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, Yang Lu Chan of Yang style Tai Chi or perhaps Jigoro Kano of Judo renown. At the same time he made quite clear that his mission is not geared towards destruction. True Budo (the way of the warrior) he said, is love. Upon his death, the three best known students he left in his wake to carry on the tradition were his son Kisshomaru, Koichi Tohei and Morihiro Saito. Our system follows in the tradition of Morihiro Saito, who operated under the banner of the founder’s son.
Morihiro Saito Sensei
Morihiro Saito (1928-2002) was the longest standing live in student of the founder, for 23 years. He apprenticed when the founder retired from Tokyo to build a school in the farm country of Iwama and focus on a more direct and self defense oriented approach than the system that carried on in Tokyo. The emphasis of this style is a strong foundation in basics and a step by step progression from those basics to the highest form of martial arts training. He is the sole standard bearer of the founder’s weapons system and also emphasized breathing through kiai. He left a diverse and powerful lineage of teachers in his wake, to which our dojo ascribes. Morihiro Saito Sensei dedicated his life to maintaining the system of the founder precisely as he had learned it.
Seiichi Sugano Sensei
Seiichi Sugano 8th dan, (1939-2010) was a direct student of the founder of Aikido through the Tokyo system, focusing his technique on the study of timing. He was dispatched to Australia first, followed by Belgium and eventually New York City in 1989. Seiichi Sugano was the most advanced of practitioners sent by the founder’s son to the United States. His system is heavily oriented towards the development of timing similar to sports training, and all other aspects of martial study evolve from this understanding.
Hoa Newens Sensei
Hoa Newens Sensei, 7th dan, studied directly and extensively with Morihiro Saito Sensei. He is a member of the board of directions of the Takemusu Aikido Association. Hoa Newens Sensei has taken direct responsibility for the development of Aikido Westchester NY in a teacher-student relationship. He began Aikido in 1967 as a student with Dang Thong Phong (Vietnam) as well as Seiichi Sugano in his earlier years. As such, he is particularly versed on incorporating the instructional methods of Seiichi Sugano into the more comprehensive system of Morihiro Saito Sensei.
Steve Kanney 5th Dan
Steve Kanney is the chief instructor of the Aikido Westchester Dojo. He began martial arts training in 1972, and Aikido in 1978. While starting with a student of Yamada Sensei, he first met Morihiro Saito Sensei at a 10 day seminar in the United States in 1979. While he was not able to move to Japan as a formal student of Saito Sensei, he did continue to follow his seminars in the U. S. and practice on his own in addition to his regular Aikido training. He moved to New York in 1983 and first met Seiichi Sugano in 1989. His practice gravitated towards Sugano Sensei's approach over time, while he continued to accumulate experience with Morihiro Saito Sensei. With the passing of Sugano Sensei in 2010, he was encouraged to reconnect with the lineage of Morihiro Saito.
The principles of Aikido can be learned through Aikido training itself, or through other forms of knowledge. Steve Kanney has trained in wrestling (5 years), Karate (4 years), Jujitsu informally (4 years) and studied Tai Chi since 1999. He also began the study of Chinese Zen with one of the more advanced teachers in the world from 1996 until his teacher left the country due to health in 2006. Zen and martial arts training maintain a long history of close association: “Zen discipline is simple, direct, self-reliant, self-denying…A good fighter is generally an ascetic or stoic, which means he has an iron will. This, when needed, Zen can supply.” - DT Suzuki Zen and Japanese Culture (pg 62)
He also spent over 20 years as a financial professional and currently works to help individuals learn how to manage their finances in a manner consistent with the principles of Aikido.