This entry is for my Aikido friends. I think some of you may appreciate this.
Believe it or not, I am actually a trained sushi chef, and occasionally work at a local sushi bar here in Orange County, California, where I live.
The other day an elderly gentleman seated himself in front of me at the sushi bar. As per usual I began a conversation with my customer(s) and we started talking about various things… including my ability to speak Japanese (it’s always a great conversation starter with Japanese customers). As the conversation went on we started in on the topic of martial arts or rather Japanese Budo. Having lived in Japan and trained in Japanese Jujutsu as well as some related arts it is a topic that deeply interests me… so I avidly engaged in the conversation.
This gentleman begins to tell me that as a younger man he trained Aikido quite a bit and that his younger brother is a pretty decent Aikidoka. Then went on to tell me his brother had even helped in establishing one of the original Aikido clubs at Waseda university.
Of course this piqued my interest in the conversation, and as we banter back and forth across the sushi bar, he says, “oh yeah, when I was younger I had the chance to train many times with O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba” (O-Sensei was the founder of Aikido).
I was flabbergasted. I mean… SERIOUSLY!?! He got to train with O-Sensei!!! How cool is that!!!
Turns out his brother is Tadaharu Wakabayashi Sensei, not only one of the founding members of one of the Aikido clubs at the esteemed Waseda university (the most famous club there was probably Tomiki sensei’s club, but there was also a strong Aikikai club there from what I understand), but Wakabayashi Sensei was also the founder of Pasadena Aikikai in the 60s.
The evening went on and on as he told me about his training, his brother who is now an 8th Dan in Aikido, and about some of the people he’s met over the years. As you can imagine it was a very interesting conversation.
Feel fortunate to have met this man… It’s amazing the people you meet along the way.