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We are mourning Kamata Sensei

Kawaraban No. 46


by Watanabe Koichi

representative of the teaching staff

Last May 12th Kamata Sensei set off for his last journey after no medicine could help him anymore. We pray with all our hearts that he will be happy in the next world. He was 73 years old, and I think he still had plenty of plans regarding science as well as regarding aikidō training, which he had to leave unfinished.

Kamata Sensei joined the Tendōkan at the age of 52 on April 12th 1980. Since then he practiced eagerly, and received in December 1997 the approval for the 6th dan. As a leading figure in the research on history of Chinese Buddhism he was busy day by day investigating, researching and teaching, and I guess, that it was not easy for him fitting in the practice into his daily routine. But Kamata Sensei always said: “Aikidō has saved my life. If I would not practice, I probably would be already in a sorry state. Hahahahah. Whenever I had written on my manuscripts too long, and my wrists hurt, practice made it better again. And now I am able to fetch a thick manual out of the bookcase with one hand with ease.”

A practice animated by such a mind was overwhelming for the others, and also for me he served as good role model.

Kamata Sensei not only strived intensively for absorbing Shimizu sensei’s aikidō, he as well was aiming at internalizing the mental aspects, and he revived the achievements within himself. At the time, when he was writing the classic ‘Zen and Aikidō’ (as the co-author of Shimizu sensei), he noted down Shimizu sensei’s explanations during classes and doing so he was a picture of total concentration.

He was of disarming character, which was even stronger under the influence of alcohol. People flocked around Kamata sensei, and before you were aware off it, a bottle was emptied. It did not take much time from “Today we only have one cup” to “Is there something left?” His exclamations “Training in the morning, training in the evening”, “For Shimizu sensei, let’s persevere!” “Kampei (cheers)” and his slightly bent posture, when he assumed control by cheering ‘Banzai’ three times, we will not be able to forget.

Kamata Sensei! It is really not acceptable that you are only resting on a lotus leaf all the time, please put on your dōgi (the hakama with embroidered 6th dan you will receive as a present from Shimizu sensei), and admonish also me in a loud voice during practice.

--- Amen ---

© translated by Birgit Lauenstein und Peter Nawrot 10/2003