North American Shihan-Kai
From left, An-shu Rumiko Hayes, Shotokan Senior Master Takayuki Mikami, Washin Ryu Founding Master Hidy Ochiai, Lenovo Computers President and CEO Bill Amelio (major sponsor of his teacher Hidy Ochiai’s event), Mrs Mikami, and An-shu Stephen K. Hayes (Photo by Leo Dokutoshi Pimentel)
When I was a colored belt still years away from earning my first Black Belt back in the 1960s in Ohio, it seemed like I was so far away from the depth teachers I was seeking in my martial arts training. Off on the far-away East and West coasts, Japanese pioneers who had brought the martial arts to America seemed to be teaching all the things I wanted to learn. The Japanese masters I would read about in Black Belt Magazine were my heroes, and the thought of spending time with those icons was beyond a dream. I remember meeting men like Hidy Ochiai on the competition circuit when we were tough young guys and he was a reigning champion. Books by champion Fumio Demura, way back before videos and the internet, got me started in my fascination with rokushakubo long-staff training, which I still enjoy practicing to this day.
An-shu Stephen K. Hayes and Shito Ryu Genbukai Founding Master Fumio Demura
Now 40 years later, I am proud to call these gentlemen my friends, and share with them the honor of being known as a member of the exclusive Black Belt Hall of Fame fraternity of seniors of the martial arts in America. In October 2007, my old friends invited me to be their guest at their 1st Hokubei Shihankai Masters of the Rising Sun weekend. Part reunion, part competition for the younger students of these masters, part performance, and part celebration of four decades of martial arts in North America, I was pleased and proud to attend as their special guest, and as To-Shin Do An-shu, the only non-Japanese-born founder of a martial tradition invited to be there with 30 of these Japanese legends.
So who are your heroes right now? Who do you dream of calling “old friend” someday in the future? Make your plans to follow your heart, and promise to dream big. What can you give the world? What is your gift? What is your vision? Who do you want to call your friends and fellow battlers in a world that so needs what you have to give?
Keisuke Mouri gave an amazing demonstration of absolute precision – in both technique and spirit – drawing and cutting with the Japanese sword. He was delightful, even amusing, off-stage. A potter by profession, he gave us a present of beautiful porcelain chopstick rests that he makes for his family store in Gifu. On stage in hakama with sword in sheath, he was at once chillingly paralyzing and heart-stirring in his cool intensity. What an inspiration!
An-shu Stephen and An-shu Rumiko with Keisuke Mouri, Yagyu Shinkage Ryu Shidokan Dojo 6th Dan Shihan master swordsman from Gifu, Japan