“I initially encountered Sadateru Arikawa on my first trip to Japan in the summer of 1969. His reputation of being ferocious on the mat had preceded him and I wasn’t disappointed when I participated in one of his classes for the first time.
With a big smile on his face he would apply painful joint-locks (kansetsuwaza) and powerful throws to any and all who would knowingly or foolishly volunteer a limb. I think I only attended two or three of his classes during that summer figuring that I would be tempting the hands of fate if I trained in his class on a regular basis.
At that time, there was a series of cartoons drawn by a British aikidoka circulating at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo. The drawing depicting Arikawa Sensei showed the figure of a cowering student crawling underneath the tatami in order to escape treatment at the hands of “Harry”–a pun on the first three letters of his name and a reference to his thick, black shock of hair–as Sensei was affectionately known among the foreigners at the dojo.
Our next encounter took place in 1973 when I again visited Japan over the year-end holidays. I have a single memory of him from that time. I ran into Arikawa Sensei near the office at Hombu Dojo one day and he proceeded to chat with me about aikido history. He seemed to know of my deep interest in that subject and cheerfully carried on.
My Japanese was very basic at that stage and I was only able to understand a little of what he was saying. But this was to prove the first of scores of conversations we would have over the years that would prove so valuable to me in my historical research.”
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