O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba (12/14/1883 – 4/26/1969)
After he intensively studied various swordfighting and jujutsu styles, Ueshiba became famous as one of the strongest men in Japan. In 1919, he turned towards the spiritual, pacifistic teachings of the Omoto religion and started to develop the Art of Peace. In 1942, in the midst of the chaos of World War II, O-Sensei moved to the small country town of Iwama and named his new martial art Aikido. There he continued to practice, teach and refine Aikido until he passed away in 1969.
Morihiro Saito Sensei (9th Dan, Aikikai)
(3/31/1928 – 5/12/2002)
Being an Iwama native, Morihiro Saito started training in Aikido in 1946 and became not only a student, but a close confidante of O-Sensei for the following 23 years, making him the longest student of the founder. After the founder’s death, he was put in charge of the Iwama dojo and became the guardian of the Aiki-shrine. Today, he is also known for his books, his clear and structured way of teaching, and the organization of the huge number of techniques that comprise Iwama-Ryu Aikido.
Shigeru Kawabe Sensei (7th Dan, Aikikai)
(9/1939 – 2/28/2003)
Kawabe Shihan was born in November 1939 in Tokyo, Japan. Throughout his life, he trained in various martial arts including Aikido, Judo, Jukendo (bayonet), and Karate. His major influences in Aikido came from the direction of such masters as the 2nd Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, Rinjiro Shirata, Morihiro Saito, and Hiroshi Isoyama, to name a few.
Shortly before his passing, he had retired from the Aikido positions of vice-president of the Northern Japan Region (Tohoku) and president of the Akita-branch. Until his death, he held a position on the board of the All Japan Aikido Federation (Aikikai), granted to only sixteen individuals within the country. Master Kawabe taught throughout Japan as well as overseas, traveling 22 times to countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. He was founder and chief-instructor of Akita Aiki Shuren Dojo, located in Akita City, Akita Prefecture, Japan.
Pat Hendricks Sensei (7th Dan, Aikikai)
In 1975, Pat Hendricks started her Aikido career in Monterey, California. Since 1977, she has traveled frequently to Japan for extended periods of time to study as a live-in student under Saito Sensei in Iwama. Her own dojo, Aikido of San Leandro, attracts students from all over the world, including Japan. Pat Sensei holds the highest degree possible in Aiki Ken and Jo Certification, and is certified to test for the United States.
Stefan Barton Sensei (6th Dan, Aikikai)
Chief instructor of the Golden Triangle Aiki Shuren Dojo, Stefan Barton is a Rokudan (6th dan) under the Aikikai Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. It is the largest Aikido organization in the world and is headed by the Founder’s grandson, known as the Doshu.
Stefan Sensei started Aikido in 1989. He lived in Japan for over two and a half years and trained as an uchideshi (live-in apprentice) to both Kawabe Shigeru Shihan (7th dan) in Akita City, Akita Prefecture and Saito Morihiro Shihan (9th dan) in Iwama Machi, Ibaragi Prefecture.
Stefan Sensei continues to train on yearly trips to California or Japan to study under the tutelage of Pat Hendricks Sensei and, since the passing of Saito Morihiro Shihan, his son and successor Saito Hitohiro Shihan (8th dan). In addition to personally instructing most classes, Stefan Sensei teaches high school in the Kitchener-Waterloo area.