Oct 23rd to Oct 29th, 2008
Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei of Aikido Kobayashi Dojo came to the United States in October to teach a three-day seminar at Nippon Kan General Headquarters. Kobayashi Shihan is one of the surviving direct students of the Founder Ueshiba and a living testimonial to the days and teaching of the Founder and of the first generation of international expansion of Aikikai in the 1960’s and 70’s. More information on Kobayashi Shihan can be found on his website at http://www.cup.com/kobayashi-dojo/english/index.html and Kobayashi Shihan’s account of his trip to Denver can be found on his blog.
This year marked the 40th year anniversary of the Aikido Kobayashi dojo in Japan, and even though the entire month of September was filled with anniversary events in Japan, Kobayashi Shihan was full of energy and vigor on this trip to Denver in October. He was hard to keep up with at times especially for a man of 73 years of age!
Kobayashi Shihan impressed students at Nippon Kan with his powerful teaching style and delighted everyone by starting off the seminar by taking ukemi, and doing rolls with all of the demonstration partners he chose from attending students. Kobayashi Shihan was careful to include all levels of students in his teaching and chose many white belt students to demonstrate his techniques with. Practice was serious of course, but the mood was cheerful and even inspirational with his experience and talents as a teacher of Aikido. All of our students were encouraged to see a man of his years demonstrating with such vitality.
After the conclusion of the seminar, Kobayashi Shihan enjoyed Colorado with visits to mountain hot springs and other sites of interest. Kobayashi Shihan’s visit happened to coincide with Halloween, and to celebrate the visit, a Halloween party was scheduled for his last evening in Denver. Kobayashi Shihan enjoyed seeing everyone in costume and took many photos with students dressed for the occasion.
While touring a state park in Colorado Springs, some local rock climbers caught his attention. He stood for many minutes watching as the climbers made their way carefully up the steep rock faces. Hideki Shinozaki, Kobayashi dojo uchideshi and assistant to Kobayashi Shihan on this visit, turned to him and asked, “Sensei, you are not thinking about going rock climbing are you?” “It looks interesting,” Kobayashi Shihan replied. “To go where normally people cannot go I think would be a fun challenge.” Later Mr. Shinozaki told me that a few months ago he had found a scuba diving mask and snorkel in Kobayashi Shihan’s car. When asked about it, Kobayashi Shihan said he had been taking lessons! “Maybe he is serious about going rock climbing,” Mr. Shinozaki replied. “Please don’t let him! Hiroaki Sensei (Kobayashi Shihan’s son) has entrusted Kobayashi Shihan’s safety in my care. If he really wants to go climbing, I am in big trouble!”
In his spare time, I learned, Kobayashi Shihan takes computer and dance classes and challenges many other hobbies. I think that is what keeps him so young and healthy; he has a wonderful attitude towards learning, and is always finding new physical and mental challenges to keep him young and fit.
This seminar, held in October, was purposely held at Nippon Kan dojo and the number of students was limited to 100. If you missed the cut off this time, I encourage you to sign up early next time!
We all sincerely appreciate Kobayashi Shihan coming to Nippon Kan and also thank Mr. Shinozaki for all of his efforts in taking good care of Kobayashi Shihan on this visit.
Nippon Kan Kancho