The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Friday, April 08, 2005

Kanazawa Sensei

(written on March 16)
Tired today.  Up REALLY late last night observing a shotokan karate seminar taught by one of Funakoshi's original student, Master Kanazawa.  There is always something different about those functioning at the highest levels of expertise, and this gentleman, still a lethal warrior and superb teacher at the ripe age of 73, is one of those masters, one of those rare human beings who exemplify the very essence of their discipline.  It doesn't matter whether you're talking playing piano, singing, chess, martial arts, writing, or any other discipline I know of--the real masters radiate something not merely quantitatively but qualitatively different.  It is worth it to seek such people out, to be in their presence, to watch their interactions, to allow your subconscious to absorb this essence of excellence.  Such moments can be life-changing.
This is a man who, single and empty-handed, took out a dozen Yakuza in a Tokyo sake bar, an incident chronicaled in C.W. Nicol's wonderful book "Moving Zen."  So there is no doubt that he is one of the most lethal human beings ever to walk the earth.  He is also gentle--to watch him teaching children, with infinite patience, giving them more time than he gives to the adults, says that his values are rock-solid.  He enjoyed a margarita at the end of the evening--he knows how to relax and laugh and enjoy the fellowship of his companions. A superb athlete and a scholar, Kanazawa is a living testimonial to the value of becoming truly excellent, of the importance of finding some arena in life to take to the max.  To tell you the truth, I wouldn't have wanted him as a father: such men often put incredible pressure on their children, and sometimes their careers take them far away from home.  But having him as an uncle would have been great.  I mean, this man is in the top .00001% of his field, ever.  Most of us would be happy to be in the top 10%.  Pushing things to that extreme can cost human relationships.  I don't know about that.  What I do know is that thousands of people, all over the world, have been strengthened by his strength, energized by his energy, focused by his focus.  He carries himself as one might hope to see a Samurai Warrior, with grace and dignity and, in motion, the kind of oh-my-God absolute lethality that makes an absolute joke of those who think traditional martial arts are ineffective.  Right.  That's why they've lasted thousands of years.  Because they don't work.
If it sounds like I was impressed, I was.  And inspired.  And uplifted.  I encourage all of you to seek out the company of such people, whenever you can.  Let your soul learn from them.  They are one of life's true riches.


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