A young Turkish woman, Zeynep Yukselen, visited us at New England Aikikai last year. She brought with her a message from Mustafa Aygun, her Sensei in Istanbul (www.aikidoturkey.org), a request that I write about my life with Kanai Sensei. That is when I began to write down some of my memories of our life together. It was not easy to write this article and I thank Aygun Sensei and Zeynep for their interest and encouragement.
I remember when Kanai Sensei had black hair. He wore it long in the front and would flip it back out of his eyes with a toss of his head. It was a very dramatic gesture.
His technique was always fierce and mysterious. I've heard that people in other dojos feared him more than Chiba Sensei because they couldn't understand where his technique was coming from. He did all those kokyu throws and they couldn't figure him out. We knew that it was that little hip thing he did, shifting his hips a little back and then forward again as he breathed out and threw. Such a small move and such power! Beautiful, subtle, and so effective.
The first time I ever saw Kanai Sensei was in the summer of 1986 at Roger Williams College in Bristol Rhode Island. I was thirteen years old. It was the twentieth anniversary of The New England Aikikai. At the time, My best friend, Steve, and I had been practicing Aikido for nearly a year. we were students at Newburyport Aikido, which was a small dojo. Our instructor, Bob Tobae told us about summer camp, and strongly encouraged us to go. This week long seminar would feature Doshu Kissamaru Ueshiba and his son Moriteru Ueshiba (then known as Waka Sensei). The whole idea of seeing the son and grandson of O' Sensei seemed very exiting to us. We talked to our parents and they gave us permission to go.