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Old 04-18-2012, 02:04 PM   #1
iwamaki
 
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Dojo: Westlake Village Aikido
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Nanaii

Morihiro Saito-sensei was well known not only for his awesome skill and strength, but also for his great kindness. He took us foreign students to some very interesting places, including the shrines at Nikko and Kashima and the pottery town of Mashiko, and when we got there he bought us lunch. He even took several of us to visit a master sword maker in Iwama who was designated as a living national treasure.
One winter I packed my family into our minivan and drove them to my wife's family home in Fukushima for a visit of several weeks. The weather was fine on the way there, but as soon as I headed back to Iwama the next morning it started to snow very hard. The route included the steep downhill mountain pass leading into Kasama.
As soon as I entered the pass I saw that it was covered in deep snow, and there were dozens of cars and trucks abandoned on the slope. It would have been easy to go down, but with essentially no traction I would have almost certainly hit one of the vehicles. That was not an option.
By a good stroke of fortune, although I had no traction going down, the little van had traction in reverse. I was able to back up the hill to the main road and make it to a small town called Nanaii that had a train station. I parked the car and got on a train for Iwama.
The next morning the sun came out and the snow was all melting. I started walking to Iwama station to catch a train to Nanaii to pick up my car. The route took me past Saito-sensei's house. He happened to be standing outside and asked where I was going. I told him, and he said "wait here".
He pulled up in his car and told me to get in. He drove me all the way to Nanaii, where I retrieved my car and we drove back to Iwama together. Upon arrival he invited me to his house for lunch and liquid refreshment.
How many Sensei would do something like that for a student, especially a gaijin? I always thought of Saito-sensei as not only my mentor and teacher, but also as my friend which he really was. I cannot express in words how much I miss him.
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:03 AM   #2
Chris Li
 
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Re: Nanaii

Quote:
David Alexander wrote: View Post
How many Sensei would do something like that for a student, especially a gaijin? I always thought of Saito-sensei as not only my mentor and teacher, but also as my friend which he really was. I cannot express in words how much I miss him.
Seems like a pretty normal act of kindness to me.

Why should it be surprising? Shouldn't that be the norm and not the exception?

And for those situations where it is not the norm - why isn't it, and why ought behavior be expected to be different just because they happen to be good at a martial art?

Would you apply the same standard to apply to the local high school teacher or college professor?

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-19-2012, 09:25 AM   #3
iwamaki
 
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Re: Nanaii

Chris must have a lot of good friends, and I am very happy for him.

I haven't been so fortunate in my life, and felt blessed to have had one. Saito-sensei's act of kindness deeply touched me.
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:37 AM   #4
Chris Li
 
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Re: Nanaii

Quote:
David Alexander wrote: View Post
Chris must have a lot of good friends, and I am very happy for him.

I haven't been so fortunate in my life, and felt blessed to have had one. Saito-sensei's act of kindness deeply touched me.
My point is this - if your next door neighbor ("Bob next door gave me a ride and bought me lunch") had done the same thing would you be telling the story years later?

Best,

Chris

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Old 04-19-2012, 12:08 PM   #5
iwamaki
 
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Re: Nanaii

I appreciate Chris's point of view. The purpose of my posting was not merely to describe a single act of kindness, which was one of countless others by my teacher Morihiro Saito-sensei, but to pay homage to a wonderful man whose humility and kindness, not to mention his awesome skill and power, embodied the true spirit of O-sensei's Aikido.
It was just one example; and for the record it was not as simple as Bob giving me a ride and buying me lunch. Nanaii was over an hour's drive from Iwama over the dangerous Kasama pass. We both knew that I could get there on my own, but Saito-sensei chose to drive me there anyway even though it took up his entire morning.
It is unfortunate that in the real world, acts of kindness are not something that can be taken for granted or expected of others. There are millions of people in the Middle East and other places who hate us just because we are Americans, and some among them who actually want to kill us all. We can't really blame them because we have invaded their countries, in some cases with no legitimate reason (e.g. Iraq), and killed thousands of their innocent people in the form of "collateral damage". And there are billions more people all over the world who are merely selfish and callous and wouldn't do anything for anyone except themselves.
It was an honor and a privilege to live, train, and party for ten years with a man who was the exactly the opposite and embodied the very best of O-sensei's Aikido. He set an example for me that I try to fulfill every day of my life.
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