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Kanreki of Sensei Sadao Yoshioka

Around 1982, I attended the kanreki (60 year old birthday celebration) of Sensei Sadao Yoshioka. This must have been after I returned to Hawaii after attending Northwestern University (for graduate school). I believe that the celebration was at the Natsunoya Teahouse. At that time, I must have been about 25.

I did not think that much about the celebration at the time. I vaguely knew that Japanese men celebrate their 42nd (yakudoshi) and 60th (kanreki) birthdays. I now know that they also celebrate their 88th (beiju) birthday.

But at that time, it was just another party. Sensei was 60, which seemed pretty old to me then. I was just of many students and instructors attending. I was one of the junior students.

But over the years, I have often thought how fortunate I was to attend Yoshioka Sensei's kanreki. I admired him greatly, but could never quite fit Aikido into my life. Nevertheless, he influenced my thoughts and feelings about the martial arts. He is one of the Sensei I would like to be more like. Sometimes I would stay after class and speak to him (especially at the Waialae dojo). One time I visited him at his home and stayed so long that my wife thought I must have been in an accident!

I will tell you a funny story. Sensei had an old car. It was light blue. For some reason I think it was a Valiant (I am not sure about this). I drove with him a few times to select wood for making bokken. One time, we drive to my wife's family's office in Pearl Ridge. Sensei drove the wrong way down a one way street! Actually, I think he did not drive too well. But as his student, I always felt completely safe -- as if his ki would protect us.

Sensei was almost old enough to be my grandfather. Even as he aged, he remained in excellent condition. The things he would do in the dojo were simply amazing! But as much as he taught technique, he also taught lessons of life. Lecture was a part of every class he taught.

Sensei passed away from cancer in 1990. I had resigned from the dojo years before, but often thought about him. My brother-in-law was a yudansha in the dojo and at one time served as its president.

I wish that Yoshioka Sensei had lived to 88 and that I could have attended his beiju celebration. This year he would have been 85.

If you have a great Sensei, please don't take him for granted. Every minute you have with your Sensei is truly a treasure. Every day should be a celebration.


Charles C. Goodin