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I have taken class with some of the teachers Ellis Amdur mentioned in his It Had To Be Felt series, which others have joined. These are very interesting and valuable columns. As for myself, however, I was just trying to absorb what was being shown and trying to participate in the class to the best of my ability at the time. That is why I wrote my previous blog entry the way I did. I kept it simple, to what the teacher said, and the effect of that teacher through the years until I was able to attend his class again in New York. The other classes were in Japan.
Some people are interested in the point of view of someone of my level at the time. Maybe they can picture themselves attending the class and later having the feeling, whether by observation or actually taking the ukemi, gradually influence their training throughout some years....
The teacher I am going to mention in this entry was recently described by Ellis, and I looked to see if there was a separate thread re: Kanai Sensei in reference to Ellis' account. I will keep looking, but in the meantime I will tell you that suddenly I remembered that I did indeed take ukemi from Kanai Sensei. It was a few months or one year tops after he arrived in the US. Yamada Sensei, his good friend had invited him to New York, a tradition that continued during Kanai Sensei's years in the US every December for the Christmas Seminar.
So I really did forget that first time for many years. I was really new to Aikido, though I had studied it for three months at college, prior to graduation, and had three years of judo. The judo was ladies only as part of the physical education department in Helen Newman Hall at Cornell and concentrated on the variety of techniques from shoulder, hip, leg, etc. by number, but we were taught Japanese names as well, The class was great, but there was very careful randori, so when I saw Kanai Sensei beckon to me I was, you guessed it, almost petrified, but you know, you can't just hide under the tatami. So I did my best to do the sincere charge as a silent wordless prayer went out to the universe in my wake...
The universe turned into a soft cloud amidst the silent whirlwind that deposited me safely on the mat.
I have always had to work on my ukemi, but it has been worth it. As I have said elsewhere on Aiki Web it enabled me to do the closest thing humans can do to flying, other than trapeze arts and what Greg Louganis and others do off diving boards and what skiers do....
But the intervening years were so full of all kinds of techniques to learn, ukemi to struggle with that I forgot that one moment until recently, Come to think of it, there was another interesting moment connected with Kanai Sensei a year or two ago due to our dial up computer. New England Aikikai had a short video of Kanai Sensei doing , probably, irimi nage. There was that same whirlwind and even in stop and start slow motion I could not figure out what he was doing. His solid hanmi was something I had always admired and tried to emulate, but here was something entirely different that went on between the beginning and the close of the technique.
I have taken his class many times over many years and the spirit, the movement, the precision, especially during those classes at his own dojo when they were having beginners classes and all the black belts showed up to learn the secrets of Aikido, I presume.... but how he taps into that whirlwind has become a fascinating mystery for me. Although I am not training these days, not being physically up to it, and being busy with work and household and family stuff, the great gift of Kanai Sensei to all of us remains and surrounds, as it were. You'll have to excuse the emotionalism, I hope, as I am far from the only one to write about him this way. I wasn't a regular uke of his and we rarely spoke (except when he was one of our "tour guides" in Japan) but he was one of the major influences in my life. I confess I didn't always take his advice, but he was always there for us.
Thanks, Kanai Sensei, Ginny and I always talk about you and Yamada Sensei on the phone with fond memory. Ginny says say hi to Yamada Sensei, so I will send a card soon.... Bye