Ambassador of Aikido
by Michael Wefers
Kenji was born in 1940 in the city of Tendo in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan, lie began his practice of Judo in 1953. In 1963, when he had achieved the level of a 4th Dan in Judo and was a student at Meiji University, he decided to begin practising Aikido. He became the last Uchi-Deshi of the founder of Aikido, O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, not long after that.
His apprenticeship with O-Sensei was a rigorous one, and he made good progress. Only three years after his graduation as 1st Dan he received the 4th Dan, an outstanding achievement which remains unequalled to this day.
At the beginning of the seventies, after the death of O-Sensei and having reached the 7th Dan, he founded an independent Aikido school, the »Tendokan«, in Tokyo.
In 1991 Shimizu Sensei received the 8th Dan from the Nihon Kokusai Budoin. This distinguishes him as one of the most highly accomplished Aikido Masters in the world. His contribution to the introduction of Aikido abroad, as an act of spreading Japanese culture, was honoured by the Japanese foreign department in 2002. Shimizu Sensei was the first Japanese to receive this honour, which has been given yearly since 1983, in the field of Aikido.
And surely his invitation to the Enjukai (autumn garden party) of the Japanese emperor and the empress, also in 2002, marks the high point of his renown so far. The empress sent him her best wishes for the further spreading of Aikido.
An occasion which of course is of meaning for the whole world of Aikido, since in this case too, Shimizu Sensei is the first representative of Aikido who has ever received such an honour from the imperial family.