Aikido is modern japanese martial art created by Morihei Ueshiba, heir to samurai secret fighting techniques. This technique aims for balance, center, stability and naturalness in every movement, causing the opponent to break his balance, which allows the aikidoka to immobilize him or make him fall. The aikidoka absorbs the strength of the opponent, making it his own, and using it against the opponent. There is never an opposition of forces (in that case the strongest would win) but a union of forces in one stream that is redirected to get the win.
Morihei Ueshiba was born in Tanabe on December 14th, 1883. He deeply studied jujutsu, kenjutsu, judo, until he met Sokaku Takeda, a famous instructor of Daito-ryu, and developed, through constant improvement, what we today call Aikido. Ueshiba Sensi found that true spirit of budo does not reside in a fighting and competitive environment, where brute force rules and the supreme goal is victory by all means necessary, but in the search of perfection as a human being, mentally and physically, trough constant training and practicing martial arts with similar spirits.
We practice O Sensei’s aikido in its original form, as was compiled and transmitted by Morihiro Saito, who started practicing aikido with O Sensei in 1946, at the age of 18, being the student that spent the most time with him (24 years).
He was one of the most important aikido masters, having teached in Iwama and Hombu dojos, amongst others.
After the founder passed away his goal was preserving Ueshiba’s aikido intact. His books entitled ‘Traditional Aikido’, published in the 70s, as well as his videos, were a great help for every aikidoka while practicing empty hand techniques, aikiken and aikijo. On those years Saito started teaching numerous seminars around the world the world, training several instructors out of Japan. Saito sensei’s style is known as Iwama Aikido, and focuses on training the basics, empty handed and with weapons (ken and jo).
He started training aikido with Takeji Tomita sensei in 1976. Tomita sensei has its dojo in Stockholm, Sweden, and was direct student of Saito sensei.
Ethan Weisgard was in Iwama as uchi-deshi (student living in the dojo) for the first time in 1984, for two months. Since then he went back ten times more as uchi-deshi and also as 'soto-deshi' for 15 months. Saito sensei appointed him his direct deputy in Denmark.
In 1984, wanting to know Saito sensei, Corallini sensei goes to Iwama. There he meets Morihiro Saito. Soon he notices that Iwama’s training mode follows the tradicional style from the founder. From then on, he decides that only Morihiro Saito would be his sensei and becomes a devoted “deshi” of him.
In February 1985, Saito sensei accepts the invitation of Corallini sensei to give an Iwama Ryu seminar in Italy and that way, for the first time, he goes to central Europe. Since then, Corallini sensei invites Saito sensei to Italy each year and goes to Japan as a uchi-deshi 24 times.
In 1988 he gets his 5th dan Iwama ryu and buki waza mokuroku from Saito sensei, which allows him to give Iwama ryu grades in tai-jutsu and bukiwaza.
In 1998 Saito sensei appoints him as his deputy for central and southern Europe. In march 1993 Saito gives him his 6th dan Iwama ryu and the shihan title. In May 25th, 2001, Saito sensei gives the 7th dan to his deputies Paolo Corallini and Ulf Evenas.
In April 2003, the Doshu officially authorized Paolo Corallini shihan to give Aikikai grades to his students. Also, in 2011, the Doshu granted Corallini shihan the 7th dan Aikikai.
From 1968 to 1978 he studied under Masamichi Noro sensei, 7th dan, being his first assistant between 1976 and 1978. From 1978 to 1988 he continued studying under Nobuyoshi Tamura sensei, who had arrived at France in 1964 to feature Aikido as deputy from Aikikai in Tokyo.
Daniel Toutain was one of the closest students to Tamura sensei for several years, becoming technical regional delegate and technical director of Aikido federations in France (Una and FFLAB).
From 1992 to 2002 studied under Morihiro Saito sensei, 9th dan Aikikai, staying for several weeks, twice a year, as uchi-deshi in Iwama. Also, he followed Saito sensei to almost every seminar he gave in Europe.
Toutain sensei was 4th dan when he arrived the first time at Iwama. Saito sensei gave him 5th dan in 1995. He also gave him the highest level (5th) certification in aikido weapons. Saito gave him the 6th dan in 2002. He also is 6th dan Aikikai.
Today he keeps Saito sensei’s teachings. His goal is giving the practitioners the solid principles of the technical heritage from the founder, as transmitted by Saito sensei, so then everyone can evolve into a more personal expression of aikido. That was the goal of Saito sensei, who thought that referring always to O Sensei’s teachings was essential.
Lewis sensei trained full time with Saito sensei from 1986 to 1993 in Iwama. Since his return he has devoted himself to teaching aikido and to date he has given more than 300 international seminars. After returning he kept frequent contact with Saito sensei, through seminars, being an attendee or a translator, until Saito sensei passed away in 2002.
Lewis sensei got his 5th dan from Morihiro Saito sensei in 1999 and his 6th dan from the doshu, Moriteru Ueshiba, in 2009.
He is the main instructor and examiner, acknowledged by Hombu Dojo, of “Traditional Aikido Europe” dojo network.