ASU Legacy Seminar Program

The Legacy Seminar program is a series of four high-level instructor pairings around the country under the umbrella “Bringing Saotome Sensei’s Legacy Forward,” sponsored by ASU. These events offer opportunities for the membership to learn from highly skilled 7th-dan (nanadan) Aikido practitioners whose long-term dedication to Aikido includes personal experience with Saotome Sensei from his earliest years in the United States. These top ASU instructors reflect diverse qualities of Saotome Sensei’s teaching, which they have honed and developed over decades of active instruction, practice, and application. In each seminar, two instructors will work together in a theme-based approach.

Legacy Seminar #1: "Aikido Is Life To Life"

May 12-14, 2023:

The first Legacy Seminar is co-taught by Sensei Bill Gleason and Sensei Raso Hultgren, and hosted by the Aikido of Maine.  Their stated focus is “finding precision and power within and beyond kata”. 

Sensei Bill Gleason, 7th Dan

“My relationship with Saotome sensei goes back to the early 1970’s and he is definitely another one who can be called a martial genius.”

Gleason lived in Tokyo, Japan from 1969–80, where he trained in traditional aikido and Japanese sword at the world headquarters of aikido, the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. Gleason wrote a brief account of his training at the dojo, describing the training environment and people involved.[4]

Morihei Ueshiba (“O-sensei”), the founder of aikido, had died the year before Gleason arrived in Japan. Gleason wrote in his account about his intensive training with the founder’s immediate students and uchi-deshi, including Takeda Yoshinobu, Kisaburo Osawa, Watanabe, Koichi ToheiMitsugi Saotome, Masando Sasaki, Seishiro Endo and second d?shu Kisshomaru Ueshiba.[4] He describes training most often and intensely with the late Seigo Yamaguchi, who became his mentor and friend.

Gleason received his 1st degree black belt in 1972 from Kisshomaru Ueshiba.[5] In 2005, Gleason received his 7th degree black belt from Mitsugi Saotome.[5]

Gleason founded Shobu Aikido of Boston in 1980.[5] Shobu Aikido of Boston is a nonprofit organization[6] and a member of the Aikido Schools of Ueshiba(ASU), under the direction of Mitsugi Saotome. Several of Gleason’s students have opened their own Shobu Aikido affiliated dojos around the USA.

In 2005, Gleason began the Shobu Okugyo Teacher Training Center, a unique forum designed to integrate the spiritual and physical aspects of Aikido. The seminars are 5-day retreats where students do meditation and aikido twice per day, macrobiotic cooking, and reading, discussion and practice of kototama.

SEnsei Raso Hultgren, 7th Dan

Raso Sensei is fascinated by the embodiment of nature’s complexity and simplicity in the living forms of Aiki.
Raso Hultgren Sensei began Aikido training in 1971 in Santa Cruz, California, with Robert Frager Sensei, whose light touch and inspiring stories of his time with O Sensei intrigued her to step onto the path.
At that time Frank Doran Sensei also traveled to Santa Cruz once a week to teach, and his warmth and clear images were illuminating and encouraging. In subsequent years, the shihan of Shingu, Japan, opened doors of totality in training and the passionate quest to come to the heart of the art.
In the mid 1970s, Raso attended two seminars led by Mitsugi Saotome Shihan in California. She was strongly drawn to the unity of beauty and power, images of nature, extraordinary skill and elucidation of principle he expressed and demonstrated. Late in 1977, she moved to Washington, D.C. and became Saotome Sensei’s student. His teachings and his touch have continued to inspire and guide her Aikido development
over the ensuing decades. Subsequently, she returned to California, teaching and training there. In 1986 she began a four year intensive training period in Boulder, Colorado, with Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, whose generous teaching helped to ground and clarify her practice. Since 1990, Raso Sensei has been chief instructor of Aikido of Missoula in Missoula, Montana. She holds the rank of seventh dan.
Raso has also been influenced by a deep love of wild nature, a
performing arts background, and a long term involvement with meditation, which interface with the rigor and clear presence required and honed on the mat. Raso Sensei is fascinated by the embodiment of nature’s complexity and simplicity in the living forms of Aikido, and has been exploring the potency of attention.

Raso and Bill Sensei will be working on a theme together during this weekend and to get the most out of what they are presenting it is recommended that those attending participate in as many of the classes as possible.

This is the first of four of these paired offerings this year and as these are Aikido Schools of Ueshiba events hosted by a member dojo grants are available to ASU members. To learn more and apply click the button below.

  • Friday 5:00pm – 8:00pm 
  • Saturday 9:00am -12:00pm and 2:00pm-4:00pm
  • Party 6:00pm
  • Sunday 10:00am -1:00pm