Widespread of Takemusu Aikido from Japan to Italy


To better understand how Iwama Takemusu Aikido has succeeded in Europe we have to go back to 1984, when Paolo Nicola Corallini went to Japan for the first time. Corallini wanted to meet Morihiro Saito Shihan: the legendary Sensei who had been devoted to Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba for all his life. Since O-Sensei's death in 1969 Saito Sensei was the caretaker of the Aiki Jinja and chief instructor in Ueshiba's private dojo in Iwama.

Corallini was given the permission to meet Saito Sensei and was accepted as uchi deshi (live-in student). By that time, no other Italian Aikido practitioner had been in Iwama. The experience was crucial to him: Corallini Sensei realized that what he had learnt in his previous 15 years of Aikido was not the traditional art of the Founder. Enthralled by Saito Sensei's technical and pedagogical skills and his complete devotion to Ueshiba's art, Corallini Sensei courageously and humbly decided to begin his study of Aikido again under Saito Sensei. Since then, he has been following only the acknowledged teachings of his Master with deep devotion and loyalty. At the end of his first visit to Japan, Corallini was asked by Morihiro Saito Shihan what he thought about this traditional pedagogy and invited him to spread Iwama Takemusu Aikido in Italy.

Being totally spellbound by that experience, Corallini Sensei answered that only thanks to Saito Sensei he could finally understand the true way to study Founder's Aikido and that he would do everything in his power to make Iwama Takemusu Aikido be known in Italy, considering it as his mission.

The same year Corallini Sensei invited Morihiro Saito Shihan to hold a koshukai (international seminar) in Italy. Saito Sensei accepted and came to Central Europe for the first time on February 1985, in Turin.

This event really was a positive shock for European Aikido world and it’s been very useful in letting European people know about Iwama traditional Aikido.

Saito Sensei's personality and his rational pedagogy, by which he could easily teach either beginner or expert aikidoka, fascinated all the participants at the seminar.

After that Corallini Sensei invited Saito Sensei to Italy every year, creating a true Iwama Takemusu Aikido group in Europe. In fact, among people attending the first koshukai in Turin, there were many foreigner practitioners who decided to join Iwama Takemusu Aikido. They all identified in it the true art of the Founder.

Other people from different European countries began to visit and stay at the Iwama dojo (by that time quite unknown) and invited Saito Sensei to their own country. Corallini Sensei went to Japan each year to study under Morihiro Saito Shihan and followed him all over the world to stand by him and improve his technical knowledge.

At that time the Iwama Aikido network in Italy, at first, and later in Europe, took the name of “Iwama Ryu”, by decision of Saito Morihiro Shihan.

Corallini dedicated himself to his Sensei with deep affection and loyalty, helping him spreading Takemusu Aikido all over. Morihiro Saito Shihan understood that he could trust his devoted Italian student and wanted him to be his representative. Therefore he authorized Corallini Sensei to examine his students and rank them up to 6th Dan Aikido. Afterward, Saito Sensei awarded him with the highest buki waza rank in Iwama Ryu ranking system, and authorized him to be examiner also for these ranks.

Corallini Sensei and Ulf Evenas Sensei are currently 7th Dan Shihan Iwama Ryu and 7th Dan Aikikai, awarded in 2001 by Morihiro Saito Shihan during the international seminar in Rome (Italy). This is the highest rank Saito Sensei ever gave, and it shows how deeply the japanese master trusted these two devoted students. 

Corallini Sensei is the President and Technical Director of TAKEMUSU AIKIDO ASSOCIATION ITALY – former IWAMA RYU ITALY-, the only association responsible for the teaching and diffusion of Iwama Ryu Aikido in Italy Saito Morihiro Shihan ever recognized. He was Technical Consultant of F.I.J.L.K.A.M. for Aikido Section from 1994 to 2006.