I have thought of writing this piece for many years now, but never got around to getting started until I recently happened upon a serendipitous discovery. More about that shortly. Let me begin my story.
Shortly after I began my study of Yoshinkan Aikido in Lomita, California in August of 1962, I met a 35-year-old man at the dojo. One day we paired up to train together during class. All I remember is that he was quite strong and was twisting my arms and wrists every which way. After class had ended, he commented, “You’re really flexible, what do you eat?” I was only 17 years old and had no idea of how to respond to such an off-the-wall-comment. He was a pleasant, well-built fellow, and we chatted briefly, and I learned his name was Bill.
Bill attended class regularly during this period as did I, and one day something quite unusual happened. After the workout, Bill stood still on the mat and suddenly threw a back flip. I thought that was pretty cool. Then without warning–again without moving–he performed a perfect front flip, which I’m told is more difficult. I stared in disbelief along with several other training mates who witnessed the scene. Needless to say, this caught my attention.
After that, Bill became quite friendly towards me and seemed to take me under his wing. It turned out he was quite an intelligent fellow, in addition to being a superb athlete. He began talking to me about things that I had never heard of before. I learned that Bill had been a gymnast in high school, served in the navy at the end or shortly after World War II, and that he moved around a lot and had experienced many things. He was a rather mysterious person in some ways, and totally unpredictable. Although the sequence of events is a bit blurry since I’m straining to recall events of more than 45 years ago, I remember him taking me to a local health foods store and introducing me to the owner. Bill spoke about the importance of diet and natural foods. I tried raw milk and carrot juice for the first time! He was of course a very healthy physical specimen himself and a vegetarian, I seem to recall.