Originally posted by ca
Listening to him/seeing him speak at seminars, the big take home message I get is his deep love and respect for O Sensei. Although his words are through interpreters, so I cannot say for sure, it seems like he is not a complex man, and I believe he lived his entire life around Iwama, not attending a university. Aikido and O Sensei were his life, from early adulthood onward. Iwama folks, feel free to set me straight.
I'n not an "Iwama" folk, but I'll say that listening to him speak in Japanese at the only seminar of his I've gone to (a few years back in Denver), he came across as a very sincere man who wants to keep transmitting what he learned from the founder in an intact form.
Although I've heard stories of him saying things like, "What they do in Tokyo is wrong," he didn't say anything of the sort at the seminar I attended. Rather, he said that "ki no nagare" (which can be loosely translated as "flowing techniques") was usually not taught at Iwama until students were at least third dan, but he noticed that a lot of the teachers in Tokyo did so. In keeping up with these kinds of "newer" methods of teaching, Saito sensei said that he was introducing working with more flowing techniques with his beginning students.
Any way, if you're interested, my review of the seminar with Saito sensei I attended is here: