It was my Sensei’s bday last Wednesday.

Happy Belated Bday, Sensei. It’s hard to believe that the dojo has now been open for 1 year, without you being here to see it. Although it is essential to train under different teachers and different people as a way to develop one’s own Naginata (and to make up for any gaps in some teachers’ teachings), it just isn’t the same thing as having a primary Sensei to go to as your main source of knowledge—-it’s like, “coming home” from college to your parents, sleeping in your cozy, familiar bed, and feeling like you can, “be loose.” The main Sensei is who you check-in with to double check outside critiques, since they are the ones who have seen you from the very beginning and saw your Naginata grow and develop from that initial starting point.

I honestly thought that you would see me through my kodansha shinsas and see your lineage through my students. Never, in a million years, would I have expected you to abruptly get a brain aneurysm at the age of 52 and never seeing how much Naginata grew because of you.

It is very interesting now to talk about my Sensei to my students; I can only use certain examples of things she said, or maybe just compare her to other familiar people or fictional characters (e.g. Pokemon), yet, this doesn’t quite get everything about the true essence of who she was—-it is merely a fraction of who she was as a whole. I do admit, whenever someone mentions something about you, like when my 12-year old student guessed that, “Sensei’s senseiiiiii!!!!” was going to be the strictest judge on the shinsa panel, something in me smiled in nostalgia because I did remember how harsh you were about your promotion exam standards and because I guess people who have never met you before, still was able to capture that little accurate piece of you through my stories. In some ways, I was hoping that your spirit would have been there to hear that, but a part of me also really wished that you were alive to hear it in physical form. I still get sad whenever I realize that you actually aren’t here anymore and I do enjoy talking about your stories to my students as a way to keep you alive.

I am still grateful to you for shaping me into the person that I am today. You have made me goal-oriented and taught me so much.   有難う。