Ode to Okusama by Patricia Hendricks

Pat Hendricks
Pat Hendricks
Mrs. Sata Saito, born 89 years ago, was a brilliant compassionate woman who worked behind the scenes to bring peace and understanding to the Aikido world.

Her devotion to her husband Morihiro Saito Sensei and to O-Sensei was incomparable. A pioneer for all women, her simple acts of giving and holding a place of dignity for herself and others inspired men and women from all walks of Aikido life.

The strength and fortitude she exhibited in her daily tasks gave the uchideshi a goal to strive for. Never seeming to tire and yet always managing a smile for the struggling uchideshi, she provided a respite for all.

Okusama could often be seen working in the same garden that O’ Sensei and his wife Hatsu cultivated. Okusama helped carry on the tradition of farming and martial arts. Her excursion to the hills with women friends looking for mushrooms, herbs, and rare flowers seemed to be a time of relaxation for her.

The matsuri (festival) honoring O’ Sensei’s birthday was masterfully executed by the placement of sambos (trays) filled with fish, vegetables from the sea, earth fruits, and Japanese sweets which filled the altar in the Aiki Jinja. With the help of deshi, she cooked a splendid feast enjoyed by Nidai Doshu, his otomo, the Saito family, and uchideshi.

A veritable force of strength, Okusama could wipe the tears of a grandchild, mentor a wayward uchideshi, and quietly support her husband Saito Sensei with the grace and honor of a wife.

My sympathy and respect go out to the Saito family for their loss and I know her presence will be missed throughout the Aikido world for years to come.

Contact Pat Hendricks at Aikido of San Leandro

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