Michael Field

Michael Field (January 14, 1947–October 30, 2018) was a teacher of the Japanese martial art of Aikido, with many of his students in Australia and around the world having reached a high rank. Field’s practice of Aikido spanned 39 years, from the age of 32, when he first met Morihiro Saito, head of the Iwama Dojo and the keeper of the Aiki Shrine, until his death in 2018.

Michael Field Sensei & Saito Sensei
Michael Field
Born14th January 1947
Died30th October 2018 (71 years)
Full NameMichael Frederick Field
NationalityAustralian
StyleAikido – Iwama Ryu
Teacher(s)Morihiro Saito, Shihan, 9th dan
RankSoke, Iwama Ryu Aikido Australia, 5th Dan

Aikido Career

Michael Field was passionate about Aikido and he taught and trained to the end, as his Sensei had done before him. His Aikido career commenced under Saito Sensei in Japan at the Iwama Dojo in 1979 and continued until his death on 30 October 2018. Michael established Field Aikido in Melbourne Australia in 1983 and became a fulltime instructor from 1989. Shortly after the passing of his teacher Morihiro Saito Sensei (31 March 1928 – 13 May 2002) Field Aikido was renamed Iwama Ryu Aikido Australia.

Meeting Morihiro Saito Sensei

Entry into the Iwama dojo was by introduction only and, through a chance meeting during travels through Nepal, Michael received an introduction from Stanley Pranin, who was a respected member of the Aikido community. In Iwama, he met his mentor Morihiro Saito Sensei and remained his student from 1979 until Saito Sensei’s death in 2002. (reference Eulogy by Mike Shaw, 2018)

Michael Field attained the ranks of 5th Dan Iwama Ryu (1998), 5th Dan Aikikai (1999), 4th Dan Iwama Ryu Ken Jo.

Training in Japan

Field Sensei commenced Aikido training with Saito Sensei in Japan in 1979. Field Sensei was the only non-japanese student with no prior Aikido experience to commence as a white belt with Saito Sensei and to progress through to blackbelt – he received Godan i.e. 5th degree blackbelt in 1998.  (reference – Online Introductory Video – Field Sensei; 00:17 – 00:29)

Micheal Field remained in the Iwama dojo as an uchi deshi where he lived and trained from 1979-1982. He then returned to Australia. On numerous occasions he returned to Iwama to train under Saito Sensei – April 1987, April 1994, April/May 1995, July 1996 & March 1999.

Training in Australia

When he returned to Australia, Michael Field established his own dojo, Field Aikido, in 1983. Michael became a full time, professional Aikido teacher from 1989. (reference From Linked in  – https://au.linkedin.com/in/michael-field-1a398022).

Field Aikido was dedicated to assisting people to replicate the basic Aikido principles as taught by Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei, the founder of Aikido, to his senior students at his Iwama Dojo (training place). During his life time Michael looked to Morihiro Saito Sensei (1928-2002) for on the mat Aikido technique and weapons practises, as he spent more time on the mat training with the founder than anyone else (23 years). (martial.com)

Michael Field helped bring Saito Sensei to Australia to give Iwama Ryu Aikido Seminars on ten occasions. Michael also hosted Hitohiro Saito Sensei to Melbourne twice, Saburo Takayasu Sensei four times, Hiroki Nemoto Sensei twice and Ulf Evenas Sensei five times.

Soke – Iwama Ryu Aikido Australia

In 1992 Saito Sensei made the decision to establish a network of clubs under the heading “Iwama Ryu.” Saito Sensei chose at this time to change the English word “style” in Iwama Style, to the Japanese “Ryu.” Saito Sensei’s wish was to create what he called a “preservation society” (hozonkai) for the Aikido that was taught by O-Sensei in Iwama.

Ulf Evenas was the chosen representative of Saito Sensei in Northern Europe.
Paolo Corallini Shihan, was the chosen representative for Saito Sensei in Southern Europe.
Mark and Ute von Meerendonk, were the chosen representatives of Saito Sensei in Germany.
Ethan Weisgard, Saito Sensei’s chosen representative in Denmark.
Daniel Toutain, Saito Sensei’s chosen representative in France.
Michael Field was Saito Sensei’s chosen representative for Australia. (reference martial.com; Online Introductory Video – Field Sensei; 02:00 – 02:08)

 

Michael Field Sensei issued Iwama Ryu Aikido Dan Ranks exclusively in Australia from 1994 when Morihiro Saito Sensei gave him the sole authority to do so. (This was witnessed by Stanley Pranin Sensei, Editor Aiki Journal).

In the year 2000, during his last seminar in Australia, Morihiro Saito Sensei (Soke of Iwama Ryu Aikido) honoured Michael Field by making him head of Iwama Ryu Aikido in Australia. Present were Ulf Evenas Shihan then head of Iwama Ryu Aikido in Northern Europe and Saburo Takayasu Shihan head of Takemusu Aiki Australia. (martial.com)

Shortly after the passing of Saito Sensei in 2002, Michael Field changed the name of his dojo to Iwama Ryu Aikido Australia.

Michael Field appointed Michael Shaw as his technical heir and head of Iwama Ryu Aikido Australia.

Note: Issuing of Iwama Ryu Aikido certificates – the introductory video says from 1992, the website says from 1994

Training methodology and philosophy

Michael Field was dedicated to the Aikido completed by the founder in the Iwama years 1945 – 1960, as taught to him by Morihiro Saito who trained with the founder more than any other student (23 years).

His aim and that of his long term deshi was to serve “Man and Mankind” – O’Sensei (From Linked in  – https://au.linkedin.com/in/michael-field-1a398022).

Following on from the founder and the teaching of Morihiro Saito Sensei, Michael Field taught Iwama Ryu Aikido as a martial way. That is, techniques are to be martially effective. (reference – Online Introductory Video – Field Sensei; 00:57 – 01:11)

His aim was to teach all 1011 self defense techniques learnt from Morihiro Saito Sensei the technical heir of Morihei Ueshiba O’Sensei to anyone who would persist. (From Linked in  – https://au.linkedin.com/in/michael-field-1a398022). He was not trying to find more to add to it, nor was he trying to make it less. He said “That is what I have inherited, and that is what I want to pass on. No more, no less. The whole lot. Debt paid in full”. (Reference Field Sensei, Ballarat 2005 video footage).

Students of Michael Field were asked to accept Budo culture, Japan’s martial etiquette, in order to master Iwama Ryu Aikido as a martial art. To do so, he believed that the student must be led through the open handed, sword and staff foundation techniques with precision as only “perfect practice makes perfect”.

 

He saw the main difference between Iwama Aikido and all other martial arts is hanmi (stance), that is ura hanmi – rear stance. This stance makes it possible to defend against all attacks from a single, or multiple attackers; awase i.e., synchronize, blend, co-ordinate, harmonize with attacks – not clash. Therefore, weak and old people can train too; uniquely exploit more and safer openings – Aiki Tai Sabaki; and perfectly combine sword, staff and open-handed techniques – Riai’ (reference Field Sensei 2018, martial.com).

Legacy

Since establishing his dojo, Michael Field Sensei trained over 250 black belts including 12 4th dan black belts who he considered technical masters with the ability to continue his Aikido legacy. Several of his students have set up their own dojos throughout Victoria and also interstate in Perth and Mackay as well as internationally in America. (reference Eulogy by Mike Shaw, 2018).

Michael Field established a virtual dojo (http://www.iwamaryuaikido.com/) with the vision to preserve what he had been taught and to assist students to learn Iwama Ryu Aikido anywhere in the world at any time.

Published Articles

Vol 18 No. 2 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine, 2004

Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine, 2004

Vol 9 No. 9 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 8 No. 4 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine, 1994

Vol 8 No.2 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1994

Technical Workshops by Michael Field

Vol 18 No.3 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,2004

Vol 18 No.2 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,2004

Vol 18 No.1 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,2004

Blitz Magazine Presents, Fighting Techniques, Collectors Edition 1995/96

Vol 9 No.12 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 9 No.11 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 9 No.10 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 9 No.9 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 9 No.8 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995

Vol 9 No.7 Blitz Australasian Martial Arts Magazine,1995