One of the things that has come up for the Switzerland trip is a place to stay in Paris. Linda sensei suggested that I contact anyone I knew in France and see if I could arrange a place to stay. Only one name came up, that of Daniel Boulbault, a Frenchman who trained at Hombu dojo and who used to visit the Shingu school. I had an old e-mail address for him, but my e-mails were returned. I asked Karen Chew(pictured above along with me and Daniel in 1974) if she would try to find a good address for him. She phoned me back and, after a search on the internet, discovered that he had passed on April 1st of last year.
For me this was very sad news. Sometimes you meet someone who makes very deep impressilon on you, even if the actual time you spent was not all that long. I met Daniel in 1973, when I was on my first extended stay at the Shingu dojo. I returned in 1974 for a second stay. Daniel would come down from Tokyo to train, and, when he did, he would crash in my room. At that time there was a large dorm built to house employees of a luxury hotel, and aikido students were also allowed to stay there for a very reasonable rent. Sometimes I would wake up in my room in the middle of the night and see Daniel in a sleeping bag just in front of the door. It was always nice to see him and train with him.
One thing you must realize is that Daniel was extremely short, maybe around 4'6". He was, however, extremely powerful and his aikido was very dynamic. He spoke fluent French, Japanese, and English. I wouldn't be surprised if he knew other languages as well. He traveled around Japan as a hitchiker. The Japanese would never pick up another Japanese, but, if you were a foreigner, you might get picked up. In Daniel's case he got lots of rides. Because of his stature and appearance(he was rather striking and had a beard and moustache) the Japanese would always ask his nationality. He would answer"Kinseijin!" which translates as "Venusian!" I'm sure more than one Japanese took him at his word!
Karen and I spent one week in Tokyo. We stayed with Daniel, of course, and his apartment was just around the corner from World Aikido Headquarters. I remember training at the second Doshu's classes, the classes of Yamaguchi, Osawa, Arikawa, and Tada senseis. It was quite a fun week.
So, even with all the excitement of the trip to Switzerland, my heart is heavy......