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Robert "Snaggy" Naoto Inouye

I would like you to read the post about Robert "Snaggy" Naoto Inouye at the Bujutsu Blogger. Snaggy passed away on July 3rd. He was a senior student of my good friend and senior, Sensei Pat Nakata. The Bujutsu Blogger is also written by one of Nakata Sensei's students.

I had the good fortune to meet Snaggy many times, usually at lunches. I never trained with him, but got to speak to him about many Karate subjects as we ate with Nakata Sensei and sometimes other guests.

The first time I met Nakata Sensei was the Okinawan Festival. Snaggy accompanied him. This was around the year 2000 and Snaggy was healthy then... and big. I thought he was Nakata Sensei's bodyguard! What a solid bodyguard! But he was not Nakata Sensei's bodyguard, he was his dedicated student.

Snaggy had practiced Karate much longer than me and was much more advanced, skilled, strong, etc. Once in a while I would call him "Sensei" and he would instantly correct me. "I am not a Sensei," he would say, "I am a student." Yes, and quite a student. He was an example of how a student should be. He was an example of loyalty. He was an example of a student who taught and encouraged the other students.

One time I asked Snaggy, "How many Karate people have you seen outside of your dojo who osae?" Osae means "press" but is much more than that. It is a critically important control aspect of movement.

Snaggy thought deeply for several seconds. Then he said, "None."

That was hard to believe, but I'm sure that he had seen many Karate people and was keenly aware of such things. Over the years, I have found that he was right. It is very hard to find a Karate student or teacher who maintains osae.

Snaggy was very polite to me because I was his Sensei's friend. In terms of protocol, I was at his Sensei's level (as his friend) and Snaggy showed me the same respect he would show to his own Sensei. Of course, I am not at Nakata Sensei's level and I was not at Snaggy's level. But Snaggy's politeness showed me how a student should act. He was the best example of a student -- a student who was also a great teacher.

We tend to pay attention to Sensei. Books are written about them. But just as "behind every great man there is a great woman" (and vice versa), behind every great Sensei there is a great student.

When I went to the reception for Snaggy's funeral, it was a celebration of life. They brought his Harley Davidson and put his folded gi on the seat. It was really something.

Snaggy died from cancer. In his final months, I know that he was in great pain. But he never complained and was just as loyal and supportive as ever.

I could write much more. Snaggy is one of the people I truly admire in Karate. I wish that I could be as good a student as he was. That will be my goal.

One day in heaven, I hope that I can pour a cup of tea for Snaggy. At lunches, he was always the first to pour tea for the seniors (including me). I gradually learned what he was doing and tried to beat him to it. But it was hard, because he was such a conscientious student and person.


Charles C. Goodin