On my first trip to Japan back in 2966, I arrived at a very small and icy dojo (gymnasium) in the middle of nowhere, and was told to sweep the floor before the lesson. The black belts looked down at us as if we were scum, and made funny noises of disapproval. Then, with a horrific scream, the sensei (teacher) ordered us to line up. Being the newest student, I was the last in line. He began, “Ichi, ni, san, shi, go, roku, hichi, hachi, ku, ju,” etc., all the way up to one hundred. We, in the meantime, were doing push-ups. Mr. Enoeda, our sensei, walked around the class carrying a large wooden samurai sword. Whenever he saw someone too tired to continue, he would whack him rather hard with it.
Sensei Enoeda, who is still my teacher, is a traditionalist. He teaches in the classical Japanese manner, which freely translated means teaching in a cruel way, but with a soft heart. When I returned to New York that winter and pursued the art under one of Mr. Enoeda’s students, I noticed that classes kept getting smaller and smaller. One time only I showed up. Finally the owner of the karate dojo, who was into the art for the money, called the sensei in and told him that his lessons were too tough for American students. Apparently sensei Miyazaki said, “Ah, velly, velly good, weak students no good.” He was fired forthwith, and I followed him back to Europe. Continue reading Karate