As I learned from Geoff Salmon sensei's blog, we lost a giant of the Kendo world last week. Chiba sensei had suffered significant health problems over the last few years which is why he stopped his visits to improve our Kendo. A whole cohort of kenshi came up through the ranks thinking it was normal to have regular visits from a hanshi hachidan, former All Japan champion and Tokyo Police shihan. Sadly we know now that we were spoiled by his tireless generosity.
There are a lot of videos of his Kendo on the net, so we can still watch his technique. But what you can't see is his playful sense of humour*. My favourite teaching of sensei's was when he admonished everyone at one of his Kenshikan seminars.
"Do you think I have good Kendo?"
Silence. Everyone inside their own heads: "Is this a trick question?"
"Don't you think my Kendo is any good?"
Awkward shuffling and looking at the floor.
"Is it good?"
"So why don't you copy it?"
"If you like my Kendo, just copy my style. That's all you have to do."
We'll try sensei.
Chiba sensei's Oji waza by ichibyoshi
*actually in this video, you can! "Now you've seen it you can do it, yes? Ganbare, ganbare!"