Kei Izawa was Kanai Sensei’s student 1976-1978

thumbnail of Kanai Sensei & Kei Izawa

My time with Kanai Sensei was between 1976 to 1978, and it was a time when he was finally gaining some confidence in his life in the US. But he still was shy in imposing Japanese Dojo etiquette to the New England Aikikai members. I recall, students would come and go without proper Rei, not sitting in Seiza in line waiting in silence for him to start the class. His students could not even say a few greeting words in Japanese. It took a while for Sensei to trust me but in October 1976 when he had to go to Japan with Yamada Sensei and Chiba Sensei, he asked me to take care of the Dojo and classes. I remember using the opportunity to introduce Japanese etiquette to NE Aikikai members, so when he came back he was deeply moved that suddenly the Dojo transformed into a more Japanese-like etiquette ambiance.

I will attach a letter he sent me from Tokyo while I was in charge of the Dojo. In the letter, he gave me instructions as to how to take care of the dojo and students. I think he was concerned to let a young new member take care of his dojo during his trip to Japan. The letter reads as follows, and it shows his deep concerns of how his students would be taken care of.

How is the dojo? I am sorry that I had to ask you to assume responsibility of the dojo, even if only temporarily, but I ask you to be patient and take care of things in my absence.

As aikido is a martial art, it is inevitable that there will be injuries. I will leave everything to you, but please do not forget to be considerate as a proper student of martial arts.

My relationship with Kanai Sensei continued until he passed away. I kept visiting NE Aikikai even after I left Cambridge, almost yearly, and had him come and conduct two seminars in Boulder, Colorado in 2002 and 2003 before he passed away.

Kanai Sensei is the person who impacted me the most outside of my family. I am still learning from him, recalling many of the things he used to comment.