Monday, June 22, 2015

In Memory of Kazuo Chiba

By Pascal Dennis

We’ve lost a great sensei and one of the world’s greatest Aikido masters.

Kazuo Chiba 8th Dan Shihan passed away last month at the age of seventy-five, peacefully and surrounded by his family.

Chiba-sensei spent seven years as a live-in student at Aikikai Hombu dojo in Tokyo. He served as special assistant to founder Morehei Ueshiba, O’Sensei, travelling around Japan demonstrating Aikido.


Chiba-sensei was then sent to London England where he founded London Aikikai, and to the United States where he founded San Diego Aikikai.

You’ll find many eulogies on the internet. I can only add a few memories.

The dojo still, Chiba-sensei bowing and striding onto the tatami mat at 6:15 am. Effortless grace, litheness and charisma, the living embodiment of budo.

Sensei demonstrating the first technique – utter clarity and precision of movement, overwhelming power. We bow to our partners and practice what he has just demonstrated.

Chiba-sensei walking around teaching subtleties. The handful of times he threw me, I felt I’d been pulled into a tornado, even though he was practicing slowly and gently.

I can’t say I understood Chiba-sensei – at times he seemed like a man from another century. But I deeply respected and admired him.

For me, Chiba-sensei’s greatest lesson was: When you commit to a Way, give yourself entirely, hold nothing back.

A severe standard, to be sure. (I don’t have Chiba-sensei’s courage.)

But a valuable example for those of us who practice the Toyota Way.

Gomeifuku wo inorimasu, Sensei.

We pray for your happiness in the next world.

Pascal

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