A Few Rememberances of Arikawa Sensei:
I didn't know Arikawa Sensei very well but I knew him as a student and his kindnesses to me during my training are burned strongly in my memory and, in my later years now, I think about them each day. I heard that when Arikawa Sensei was in training, he trained every minute of the day. Even while riding the train, he would use the rings to exercise his arms, not wasting even one minute to develop himself. I tried to do the same exercise myself in the train and couldn't last but only a few minutes!
To me, I remember that he always emphasized maximum flexibility in the arms and shoulders to be able to withstand a strong shiho-nage and kotegaeshi. Good ukemi was always emphasized for safety and self-protection in very strong practice. This is what he empasized to us every day and always tossed us around so easily in class.
I heard that Arikawa Sensei used to be the editor in a large newspaper before he gave it up to exclusively teach Aikido at Hombu Dojo and so he was extremely well educated. Many years ago, a newspaper published some fictionlized story which was not respectful of O'Sensei and Arikawa Sensei personally went to the newspaper to complain. I heard he slammed his hand on the editor's desk so hard and broke it and so was "impressive," that a big apology was in the newspaper on the very next day.
When I was at Hombu, Arikawa Sensei was in charge of the Aiki Newsletter. I remember in one issue, there was a mistake in the promotion section and one name for 1st dan was mistakenly published and was not supposed to be there. The majority discussion in the office and with Doshu was that it was not a big problem and to just let it go and make the correction notice in the following issue. But Arikawa Sensei said that it was his responsibility to let it slip in and so that he would take responsibility and correct it no matter how small and insignificant the error was. No one knew what he meant at that moment.
About a half hour later, Arikawa Sensei asked me to come with him to the Shihan's Room and he handed out black markers to three of his top students and myself and we all sat down and "x"ed out the incorrect name.
After he showed us what to do and exactly how he wanted the name marked out, he left the room. He was so specific and we had to do it exactly as he wanted it - not just "x"ing it out any old way we liked, but making a neat block with the marker as if it looked like the name was printed out with a printing machine. We had to do it very carefully and make a long, rectangular box to cover the name completely. The pages had to be flipped open to get to the error but he also cautioned us to handle each issue neatly so everyone will receive a nice new issue.
We were all upset because there were about 5,000 issues then as I remember, and this was going to take all night. Arikawa Sensei wanted it done just so and very neatly for each and every issue. I was rather honored and excited that he also asked me to help him but his young students were all grumbling at this impossible task when suddenly Arikawa Sensei reappeared into the room bringing us tea and Japanese sweets. Quietly, he sat down and began to mark out the offending name himself along with us.
We were all so impressed with his kind consideration that we all begged him to stop and that we would do it all ourselves and he doesn't have to trouble himself. But he simply told us that it was all his responsibility and we were only here to help him out, it was not really our job at all and he apologized to us for taking our time. We were all so ashamed with ourselves for grumbling but we, at the same time, were all so deeply awed with him. It was at this moment, I realized what it takes to be a truly great Aikido teacher.
This is one of many memories I treasure about Arikawa Sensei and I will never forget him. . . . I am so, so deeply saddened to hear of his passing. . . . . .