“Well. When I was 1st Kyu (the level just below Black Belt) in Judo I entered a competition and happened to be drawn to fight against my senior from the dojo – a second Dan, I think. So I beat him and afterwards he came over to me and said: ‘You have taken anyway my Judo, but I still have Kendo.’ He issued me a challenge. So we went outside. He gave me a bokken (wooden sword) and took a Kendo shinai (bamboo practice sword)for himself. Once we started I was unable to touch him . . . not even once! He beat me soundly and I was black and blue with bruises. After this I thought deeply about the meaning of Budo.
I wanted a Martial Art that would be effective in any situation, whether an opponent had a weapon or not. So I eventually decided that I would become a student of Master Ueshiba – the Founder of Aikido. I went straight to the Hombu (HQ) but I had no letter of introduction, which was a necessary requirement then. I arrived at the Hombu and asked for an audience with O Sensei (Master Ueshiba). They told me that he was not there, and that I should go away. I was so intent to be O Sensei’s student that I determined to wait for his return. So I sat down in the garden of the dojo and waited. At the end of the third day O Sensei returned, and was told that there was some crazy boy outside who wanted to see him. Well O Sensei told them to bring me in. I was taken to just outside his room and told to wait. When the screen was opened, there was Master Ueshiba. Our eyes met for the first time: it is a moment I shall never forget! I didn’t know what to do, so I just bowed as deeply as I could. O Sensei said to me: ‘Martial arts are very hard, can you take it? I just said: ‘Yes Sensei.’ So that is how I came to be accepted as an uchideshi (‘inside student, or special apprentice) to Master Ueshiba. ”
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