Re: Dennis Hooker Passes Away
I met Dennis Hooker Sensei once, at an ASU Winter Camp in DC, probably in 1992. It was shortly after Aikido Today Magazine published an article by him that described his experiences with myasthenia gravis and how aikido training and Saotome Sensei helped him through that.
I had passed my shodan test in May of 1991, about five months after being diagnosed with FSH muscular dystrophy. Not surprisingly, I was still struggling with all this...was it worth my continuing to train, was there ANY reason to believe that I would make progress, would it be possible for me to develop any real understanding of aikido? And then I read this article about a senior student of Saotome Sensei, the same teacher I was connected to, who had:
1) struggled with health issues just as significant as mine
2) had continued in his aikido practice
3) was the chief instructor of an aikido dojo
4) clearly had a deep understanding of aikido.
Hooker Sensei's article with its honestly, directness, and passion for aikido was EXACTLY what I needed at that point in my life. At that Winter Camp, someone pointed him out to me, I introduced myself, and quickly told him how much that article had meant to me.
We never communicated again, and unfortunately I never had the opportunity to take a class with him. But if one responsibility of senior students of a teacher is to set an example for those who come after them, then Dennis Hooker provided an incredibly powerful example for many of us of what is possible when aikido is pursued with heart, dedication, and passion. That example has remained with me for over 20 years. I can only hope that the way I tried to practice and teach aikido was an appropriate tribute to what Hooker Sensei gave me.
Rest in peace, Sensei. You ran the good race and fought the good fight. We are all richer for that.