Tuesday, February 19, 2008

An Osensei Story

I heard the following story in December of 1973. It was related by Hikitsuchi sensei and translated by Mary Heiny. How much personal embellishment has been added by the years I am not certain. I am going to try and tell it as best as I remember it. The story takes place on Osensei's visit to Hawaii. Remember that the Japanese culture is a much stricter one than ours when it comes to physical contact and shows of affection. We takes things like hugs for granted, when in Japan, especially among Japanese, it can be very unusual.

The story begins as Osensei was going to leave his plane upon landing and set foot on Hawaiian soil. Greeting the passengers was a large Hawaiian woman, who was putting a lei or a necklace of flowers around each passenger and also giving each one a hug. Imagine how Osensei, a very traditional Japanese male born in the 19th century, must have felt upon seeing this. Add to this all the fact that he was in his eighties(I think) and was used to being treated very formally as he was the founder of aikido. So he told Hikitsuchi sensei that he decided he was having none of this hug thing. Being a master of budo and strategy he decided what he would do was to be very formal and Japanese and bow, thus not giving the woman the chance to hug him.

So how did Osensei's strategy work? Well, apparently he succeeded in not getting the hug. However, the woman, when confronted by this to her probably a much smaller and and perhaps even cute senior Japanese man who bowed respectfully to her planted an affectionate kiss right upon Osensei's bald head! Osensei said to Hikitsuchi sensei that this was the first time in his life that he felt like shouting"Maita, Maita!!!!"(literally"I give up, I give up!!!"

So we see that to even THE Aikido Master life can offer up some surprises!!