The Early Days

The following interview took place on June 12, 1999, in between classes at a seminar that Kanai Sensei taught at Toronto Aikikai.


R. Zimmermann (RZ): Sensei, you have been living in the US for over thirty years. Can you tell us about the early days and about how it was that you went to Boston ?

Kanai Sensei (KS): When I was at Hombu, I got a letter from the President of Aikido of Boston, Mr. Ray Dobson, Terry's younger brother. The letter said there were about 60 people practicing Aikido, that they needed an instructor, and that they could offer the airplane fee, an apartment and a salary. I forget how much it was, but it was in the letter. At that time, Doshu Kisshomaru Ueshiba, who we used to call Waka Sensei, had gone to New York and stopped in Boston. There he saw a dojo, which was quite small, but with lots of young people inside. So he decided "OK, we will send an instructor." That's how I went to Boston.

Kanai Sensei Interview I

Like most students my view of Sensei Kanai has been from a distance. Through seminars and classes he has seemed to be a powerful, direct and quiet presence; a man who guards his privacy. Although these impressions still seem valid, throughout this conversation Sensei smiled warmly, laughed easily and graciously allowed me all the time needed for the interview. Despite his apology for difficulty with English, Sensei eloquently answered all questions with care, clarity, and precision.