Friday, July 27, 2007

A Visit From Tojima Sensei

The Santa Cruz Summer Retreat was held this year at the Civic Auditorioum from July 11th thru July 15th.. I was privileged to co-teach with dear friends Mary Heiny sensei and Linda Holiday sensei and to be a part of what might have been Anno sensei's last visit to America. There was an incredible turn out for the event. On Saturday the 14th there was a series of public demonstrations, which included outside of those participating in the seminar demonstrations by Robert Frager sensei and Robert Nadeau sensei. Of course it was Frager sensei who started aikido in Santa Cruz in fall of 1969 at UC Santa Cruz. And Nadeau sensei was present at an aikido demonstration on campus that kicked off the whole tradition of Aikido in Santa Cruz. My very first class was the first aikido club class on campus taught by Robert Frager. My first exposure to aikido off campus was a field trip with Frager sensei to the original Aikido of Mt. View dojo on Castro St in December of 1969. That was my first class with Nadeau sensei. In June of 1970 I participated in a Summer Gasshuku that they both co-taught. So it was particularly moving to me to see them both together in Santa Cruz. Here is a certificate I received for completing the training at the gasshuku.

Anyway, here is a story of something that happened just before the demonstrations. Anno sensei and I were hanging out in the changing room for instructors. For me one of the most important and moving parts of the retreat was the chance to just hang out with this man. We both thought we heard someone knock to come in. I opened the door and there was no one there, not even anyone in the hallway. There was definitely an energy present that indicated that something was going on. I remarked to Anno sensei that maybe Tojima sensei was visiting. Of course Tojima sensei passed away in the mid-90's. He and Anno sensei were very close. I told Anno sensei that I felt Tojima sensei's presence at times. Anno sensei replied that after death some people become "kami-sama" and that this was very possible in Tojima sensei's case. So in this energy form it was very possible that he was visiting. Anno sensei indicated his incredible regard for Tojima sensei by saying that if anyone could have solved the riddle of Osensei's aikido it would have been Tojima sensei had he lived. It was a poignant moment.

Anno sensei did an incredible demonstration. Ben Shuts from Santa Cruz told me that he had never felt this fire energy from Anno sensei before and that it was scary. I had remarked that taking ukemi for him had its scary side. Even though Anno sensei has this energy in him independently, part of me feels that Tojima sensei's presence helped to bring it out all the more. Tojima sensei's qualities were this fire, which could be very scary, combined with an incredible and even outrageous sense of humor. He could be sudden and very explosive with both. I am including a video from youtube featuring Tojima sensei and me from 1973:


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