Brian Kagen pick: “A Tall Tree In The Forest Has Fallen” by Don Warrener

“On November 8, 2008, we lost yet another one of the legends of martial arts, Hidetaka Nishiyama. He was the most senior of all the JKA (Japan Karate Association) Masters and now he has passed.

We will all remember his kindness and his knowledge on the biomechanics of karate plus his attention to detail in kata. But perhaps his greatest gift to us was his education on the culture of Japanese karate.

For me though it was November 8 2001 (seven years earlier) that I will remember Sensei Nishiyama for. This was the day my Sensei Richard Kim passed away and Sensei Nishiyama could see how I was visibly broken up. He said to me very softly and kindly in his broken English, “you come to my dojo and train is OK now”. Wow, I will never forget this kindness.”

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  1. Taisho says:
  2. A pivotal time, perhaps more often, comes for each person who trains seriously in some art form or system. It can come within that system, or may come for a source outside of it.
    No doubt, my aikido career has had many excellent high points, and my relationship with the late Doshu, Kanai Sensei, Kobayashi Yasuo Sensei amongst others come to mind.

    Leaving military service in 1965, I was definitely in need of a different perspective, and a more positive frame of mind in terms of my martial effectiveness, and personal confidence.
    I chanced on Hidetaka Nishiyama Sensei’s Los Angeles dojo on Olympic Boulevard, and enrolled to train exclusively in Karate for one year. During that time, I was introduced to amazing personalities and instructors, notably Yaguchi Sensei, and of course, Nishiyama Sensei. Several of the students in his stable became masters in their own right.

    Nishiyama Sensei, off the dojo floor, was an unimposing gentleman of Oriental persuasion. On the floor, he became a 7 foot tall force of nature, drawing all attention and focus to his instruction and leadership. I will never cease to be amazed by this memory, or to forget his astounding kindness and understanding for each of his students. He was an instructor without peer, and a true Teacher of the Way.

    Thank you Sensei, for the timely guidance you gave me, and the privilege to know, albeit briefly, a genuine giant in martial arts, as well as in life.

    In Oneness

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