On June 5 and 6 the Canadian Aikido Federation organized a Virtual Seminar. Osawa Shihan taught a class and answered questions over Zoom. He was great.

Included in the weekend activities was a tribute to our previous Technical director, Kawahara Shihan, who died in June 2011. Below is my contribution.


I met Kawahara Sensei at my first major seminar. It was in 1976 in Montreal, hosted by Ishiyama Sensei. I saw him many times after that over the years, including training with him in Vancouver on my way to Japan in 1980. Unfortunately, my work schedule did not allow me to attend the summer camps in BC until after 2005. Sometimes Kawahara Sensei would stay at my home when he passed through Toronto on his teaching trips across the country. He was a challenging house guest, but he loved my wife’s homemade Japanese food, and he often asked Gerry to cut his hair. He was less shy about trying his English while here, and was patient with my efforts in Japanese.

During his visits, he liked to teach me Qigong in my little dojo in the basement. He told me to be sure to teach some of the exercises as part of my Aikido classes. He wanted me to emphasize the importance of breathing and releasing tension.

His technical prowess was astounding. You had to feel it, to believe it. One time, when he was teaching a seminar at our dojo, he used me as uke and did Nikyo Ura. It was like an electric shock, and I thought that my wrist was broken. In fact, I was not injured at all. He combined tremendous power with absolute control.

The last time that I saw Kawahara Sensei was at a seminar in Saskatoon. After class, he, Don Ragush and I went for dinner. He asked if Don and I had come to know each other well through Aikido. We said that was so. He was pleased, and said, in effect, “That’s good. After all, what is the purpose of Aikido if you don’t make friends?”. There was a deeply humane side to Kawahara Sensei that may not have appeared at first, but it was always there just under the martial surface.

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