Saturday, September 03, 2016

Nadeau sensei and me

The above photo was taken in 2006. Nadeau sensei led a trip to Hombu dojo in June of that year. And during that trip we visited the Aiki Shrine in Iwama. And the photo was taken at the group lunch. I have always found this photo moving. It  has Nadeau sensei positioned directly in front of O sensei's picture. And I am also in the photo but looking on from the side..Nadeau sensei's love for Osensei has been one of the major driving forces for Aikido in America and especially in Northern California. When I first started in fall of 1969, he along with Robert Frager(also a major force), really stressed the spiritual tie between the Aikido training and the connection to Osensei. The two of them were personal students of the founder and would teach monthly workshops together. In addition to the training, there was a lot of meditation, energy work, chanting. And they would show home movies(no videos yet) of Osensei. And we would all work on the spiritual side of the connection to him through the training. I believe those early days have really shaped my direction in the art. You could sense not only their deep love but also their deep devotion and commitment to sharing their experience with Osensei.

My first full time teaching job came when I took over the chief instructor positon of the UCSC Aikido Club from Robert Frager sensei in spring of 1975. But before I left for Japan in spring of 1973, I was training at Stanford University with Doran sensei, and was approached by Nadeau sensei.  He at the time was teaching workshops at Esalen, had his own spiritual community, and was seen as a very myterious figure. He told me that when I got back from Japan the powers that be were interested in having me be a full time aikido teacher in Northern California, and to "Get your(my) black belt, even if you have to do it at Hombu". In those days shodans were rare. As it turns out I wound up training not in Tokyo, but at the Shingu dojo in Wakayama Prefecture. How he sensed I would get my black belt probably not at Hombu dojo I will never know. Anyway, in early summer of 1976 I was just getting settled in to teaching Aikido at the University, when I got this phone call. "Robert Nadeau speaking. There is a dojo starting in San Jose real quick. Do you want to be a part of it?" Not giving it much thought but being flattered that one of the area leaders would call me and ask me to teach, I said yes. So in July of that year(40 years ago) I began teaching the Friday evening class, sleep over in the office, then teach kids and adults on Saturday. I would train at Stanford with Doran sensei, then after a lunch together would head to the South Bay. I got married in fall of that year. In early 1977 Sarah and I headed back to Shingu for what was a full year of training. While we were there we got a letter from Nadeau sensei's business partner offering me the position of Chief Instructor of the San Jose dojo. It would not be immediate. But some time to settle in then I would take it over. Well we returned in very late fall of 1977 and moved into the San Jose dojo. In fall of 1978 our daughter Jennifer was born, a home birth in the Japantown location of the dojo. In those days Nadeau sensei continued to teach his Monday nights. After a short time he sold the school to me and in February of 1980 I became chief instructor.

In 2001 we relocated to our current location on Martha Street. The rents in Japantown were getting way too high and so we moved to a place with a much more favorable rent. And Nadeau sensei resumed teaching on Monday nights. And we have been at our current location for now 15 years! How time can fly!

I want to stress how much Nadeau sensei has influenced me over the years. When I started teaching in San Jose I started attending his Monday night classes. When I trained in Shingu there was a heavy emphais on energy, but it was through Osensei's presentation of the Shinto Cosmology.. And Nadeau sensei was going directly to the energy without the Shinto. And in contrast to the earlier work when I first started it was much more direct with an emphasis on here and now through the body. And process. In 2009 I began assisting him on his research into Osensei and HIS process.
This has blossomed into the April OSensei REvisited weekends in April(Reminder it's set for April 21, 22, 23rd in 2017) at which I co-teach.

Here is a photo of Nadeau sensei and some members of his Meditation Group in the seventies and eighties:
And on my first trip to the Mountain View dojo I saw this hanging on the wall:
How many people have ever been issued one of these? It is a teaching certificate signed by 2nd Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba and also my none other than Ueshiba Osensei himself?

At our weekly meeting in San Mateo Nadeau sensei informed me he would no longer be teaching Monday nights in San Jose. He had taken August off and said he was enjoying the free time on Monday nights. I know the drive from San Mateo to San Jose can be a real killer. So I applaud his decision. However it leaves me a little sad. I will be taking the Monday evenings. And we are in the process of formatting the Friday evenings. I will continue to teach Friday noons. And lest we forget, Nadeau sensei put some real training in at Hombu dojo in the early to mid sixties. Here is a photo from his nidan exam:


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