Roger Savage Shihan

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Roger Savage Shihan has been studying Aikido since 1969 and is one of Sugano Shihans earliest students. In 1972 when I first became aware of Aikido he and Brian Diblee were both black belts, at times Roger Shihan stood in for Sugano Shihan in teaching classes at The University of NSW. Roger was awarded the rank of Shihan at the 50th Anniversary Summer School in January 2015.

Denis Moffat

Roger Blinks

Roger (Shihan) Blinks

When Sensei Roger was appointed Shihan, I was asked to provide a background piece for the Aikido in Australia Journal. Daunting! I looked through back issues, photos, memorabilia etc, and found very little on Sensei Roger. In desperation, and as with most of my life, I turned to others for help. The key came from an unlikely source.

Many years ago when I was young, slim and had hair, one of our many talented artists, Margaret Carter, penned a cartoon entitled “Roger Blinks”. To me, it captured the essence of Roger Shihan – unknowable but not unapproachable, intense yet not heavy and serious and joyful.

It also suggested that the best way of approaching this was not to outline when Roger Sensei started, was graded, his long relationship with Sensei Sugano and the original group of Sensei’s students but to ask the people who train and share with him most frequently and steal (sorry- use as source material) their thoughts.

For the record, Roger Sensei started aikido in 1969 and trained with most of the original New South Wales students including Hanan Janiv Sensei, David Brown Sensei, John Rockstrom Sensei, Brian Dibblee Sensei and a host of others. Records of his previous gradings are sparse – I wonder what we did before the invention of databases. He has many passions, which he studies as assiduously as he does aikido. As far as I know, he is kind to gardens, children and animals as well as aikidoka.

I am not sure this will provide any better insight into my teacher and friend but, it may help while away the hours until your next training session or if your appetite is whetted, come to Sydney and find out for yourself. His class times are on the Aikido NSW website.

For any number of reasons I have chosen not to identify (unless specifically asked) from whom the following comments came but, you can take my word that they are all students or senior instructors who continue to study with Roger Sensei to seek a direct connection to Sugano Shihan through their training.

Author of article and plagiarist (sorry I meant researcher)

Austin James

Roger Savage Shihan

Roger Savage Shihan










Miscellany of Comments

“When I started, Roger was wonderful the way that he gently and considerately encouraged me. This was especially so given just how uncoordinated I was. Picking me up to take me to training when I didn’t have a car available, using me as uke during his classes, talking about Sugano Sensei and Aikido generally, encouraging me at National Schools, advising me carefully when I sought advice, all this was crucial to my development in Aikido. Since then, he has always revealed paths to new insights and perspectives and presented challenges to examine what it is we are studying: all of these aspects encapsulate for me what it is to be a shihan. I owe Roger so much; it’s hard to thank him enough. What a richly deserved accolade for him to be designated a shihan!”

Andrew Dziedzic Sensei

“Heartiest congratulations to Roger Shihan. Our paths probably crossed when I started my Aikido training under Sugano Sensei in early 1972. In my later years in Aikido, I attended his class quite regularly, obviously he being my Sempai, and I find his classes most exhilarating and enjoyable, with much to learn and points to pick up. I don’t consider Roger my instructor but my friend and respected contemporary in Aikido. In my opinion, I think Roger’s Aikido is reminiscent to that as taught by Sugano Sensei as I remember it in my early Aikido days, simple and effective, and not stylised. Roger always encourages the students to “study” instead of mindlessly copying techniques he shows. Aikido in Australia Page 5 continued on pages 6 and 7...... Celebrating 50 years of Aikido in Australia To me, Roger is an enigma (in a good sense of the word), private and yet open, quite like Sugano Sensei.”

George Lo Sensei

“Roger has always followed his own path, marching to the beat of his own drum. He is our senior instructor, but more importantly our senior student, and an example to all of us what lifetime study and humility really means. He is our only remaining link to the early hell dojo era of Aikido in Sydney, and provides us with ongoing, quiet, leadership, informed by his experience of those early days. We are extremely fortunate that he has continued to train with us and teach us. For my part, I hope one day to be able to emulate his kotegaeshi, but must admit that progress has been slow.

Steve Armfield Sensei

“Having moved from Melbourne, I had the pleasure and benefit of attending Roger Shihan’s classes for the last 15 years. When Roger is teaching, it is always evident that there is more going on between himself and his partner than the mere physicality of the technique - it always feels like Roger is showing us the ‘things that cannot be seen’ in Aikido. I assume it is because his level of understanding allows him to teach in this way that he has been recognised as a shihan. Roger Shihan’s teaching very much brings the spirit of Sugano Sensei to his classes.”

Wayne Shiels Sensei

“I would like to thank Roger Shihan for his instruction, and for passing on his experience from studying with Sugano Sensei since the early days in Sydney. I think that NSW is lucky to have such a high level instructor teaching here.”

Machiko Hirata Sensei

“I feel this drawing could be my piece on Roger...for ever since I have known Roger, (see my photo circa Alfred Street dojo, Woollahra, 1975) that along with his humility, I feel that his Aikido has been a study of deep thought and a personal journey of understanding that we are privileged to try to understand as he shares his teaching with us... helping us to find moments of quiet clarity amidst the noise of our reality (well, the noise of my reality - don’t want to put words into other people’s mouths!)

It can be as elusive as the blink of an eye.

Maybe that has meaning too! Roger is awesome!”

Margaret Carter Sensei (and artist as well as allowing the use of her photos here.)


 “Sensei Roger is our teacher what else is there to add?”

“Sensei Roger is one of the most humble, thoughtful, caring individuals I know. His diligent study and passionate exploration of all the possibilities aikido has to offer continues to inspire me to train harder. I treasure the regular opportunities to study with him, both at the dojo and sunrise beach training.”

“What I really like about Roger Shihan is that he values and puts a high emphasis on the way our dojo is setup and how we present ourselves. This is the most basic, but the most important point in Japanese culture which demonstrates your readiness and focus towards things.”

“I often just feel not really ready to be a worthy student in his classes quite yet, but having said that, I just as often feel humbled as he always makes me feel welcome regardless.”

“I am very lucky to be able to be part of Sensei Roger’s classes. His insight and continuing study of the techniques and practice of Aikido is inspiring, and a very big motivation to get up so early on a Saturday morning.”

“Roger Sensei’s teaching and being always reminds me of what I love about aikido - presence, deep inquiry and lack of ego. His classes help me return to centre and feel more connected to spirit. I am grateful to have him as a teacher and mentor.”

“Daunting task indeed... I’ve stared into the blank screen for the last ten minutes trying to condense 20 years of study under Roger Sensei in words, and have failed miserably.

“To me, Sensei Roger is a bit of an enigma. He is daunting, yet approachable; relaxed, yet unmovable (if I have not understood the lesson properly – which appears to be often). I like the centred-ness, spirit and insight in Sensei’s lessons. Still waters, that run very deep.”

“Roger Shihan; Quiet and unassuming and lets his aikido do most of the talking. What a conversation!!!”

“Through training under Sensei Roger, I have developed a great respect for him as a person, a teacher and mentor. Although a very humble and kind person, his power, energy, intensity and deep understanding of all the elements of Aikido show through in all his classes. Sensei Roger has always shown an interest in us all to develop and improve in Aikido and within ourselves.”

“Through Sensei Roger I have come to appreciate how deep the study of Aikido is and how it permeates every facet of your life. His sincerity towards teaching has always inspired me to train and study with full commitment and desire to always learn more.”

“I see Roger as a teacher of life. I feel extremely lucky to have his understanding of the body, energy and the universe near to me. He always ‘opens’ my life. His example of continuous learning is inspirational and the light ahead on the Path.”

Final Comment from Roger Shihan

“You never teach for yourself, you teach for your teacher.”

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Osensei Quotes

There are no contests in the Art of Peace. A true warrior is invincible because he or she contests with nothing. Defeat means to defeat the mind of contention that we harbor within.
Morihei Ueshiba (Osensei)

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