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Anecdotes About Kanai Sensei

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #38 (July 1981)

The following article was prepared with the kind assistance of Adam Biniszkiewicz.

In the last issue I promised to relate a few anecdotes regarding Kanai Sensei’s early experiences in Aikido, and even though I have at hand only a few sketchy details, they make for quite an interesting story.

It seems that Kanai Sensei first heard of Aikido while studying Judo and karate, so he asked his 8th degree black belt Judo instructor what his opinion of the art was. The letter described Aikido as: “something you play with your hands and wrists, but if your hand isn’t caught it’s nothing!”.

So he didn’t give it much further thought until seeing a television program which featured O-Sensei and Tamura Sensei doing bokken movements. First of all, he was surprised to find that Aikido also included the sword but was even more amazed at the uke’s performance, since Tamura Sensei was taking beautifully light “butterfly-like” falls on a hard floor. He felt that although it might have been possible to be real and were something wonderful to behold. So impressed was he that a day or so later he packed up all of his belongings and presented himself at Hombu Dojo in Shinjuku requesting to be accepted as an “uchideshi”.

Doshu responded something along the following lines: “You have probably thought about this decision for a long time, but this is the first chance I’ve had to consider it, so my answer is no”.

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