Chief Instructor Raso Hultgren Sensei
Raso Hultgren Sensei has been chief instructor of Aikido of Missoula since 1990. As a senior instructor for Aikido Schools of Ueshiba, she also teaches seminars in the United States and abroad. Raso Sensei is a long time student of Mitsugi Saotome Shihan, master instructor of Aikido, direct student of Morihei Ueshiba O Sensei and founder of Aikido Schools of Ueshiba. She is an original member of the Ueshiba Juku, a designation given by Saotome Shihan to his most senior students as a sign of direct lineage from O Sensei through Saotome Sensei, with its responsibility to transmit the Founder's Aikido principles. Raso Sensei teaches regularly at Aikido of Missoula and actively continues her own study.
Raso began Aikido training in 1971 in Santa Cruz, California, with Robert Frager Sensei, whose light touch, energy awareness and inspiring stories of 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 1977, Raso became a student of Mitsugi Saotome Sensei, moving to Washington, D.C. to continue her studies. She was drawn to the unity of beauty and power, images of nature, extraordinary skill, and heartful connection to O Sensei he expressed and demonstrated. She subseqently returned to California, teaching, training and digesting there. In 1986, she began a four year intense training period in Boulder, Colorado, with Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, whose generous teaching helped to ground and clarify her practice.
Dynamic movement and a fascination with the way flowing energies meet and merge have always been at the heart of Raso’s training. She has also been deeply influenced by a love of wild nature and a decades-long involvement with meditation. Since 2006, an involvement with Emilie Conrad and Continuum have opened new tendrils of insight into the interface between our bodies, our energies and our world. Our capacity to embody the harmony of nature in the living forms of Aikido is a continuing inspiration.
From a perspective of more than 40 years training, Raso regards Aikido today with ever greater awe and amazement, feeling that it holds a significant key to our human and ecological survival. As we uncover the next layer of embodied understanding, and test it in the fire of challenges on and off the mat, she feels we increasingly can discover that peace and harmony are the power and joy we are seeking.