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Interview with Waka-Sensei

Kawaraban No. 66


They are easily to be recognized as father and son, but both of them more and more begin to follow their own path, which they have chosen intentionally. The interview takes place with Kenta Shimizu, the son of the Tendokan head Shihan Kenji Shimizu. In this spring he finished the university and started with the training as Uchi-Deshi in April. We asked the ‘Waka-Sensei of the Tendokan’ for his openhearted opinion.

It is now about one month since you are called Waka-Sensei, how are your feelings?

Actually that does not fit to me, but as I am called like that I will get used to it very quickly, even though I am resisting. But still I am not used to it. (laughter)

You decided to have a short hair cut, how do you feel about that?

As it seemed to me to be too simple just to show my decision only by words I thought, whether I couldn’t express it by some special appearance. After having my hair shortened the care really is easy.

Since your childhood people around you were able to see that you will become the successor. How do you think about that?

I remember that I mentioned in my final memorial anthology at the primary school “I do not have the wish to continue the work of my father”. At that time I liked painting pictures and I had the vague wish to study an occupation in the design area in future. Therefore I had the idea only to participate in the normal Aikido classes besides my work.

How did this standpoint from your childhood changed?

When I entered the high school I lived as a common student, and suddenly I felt that this could not simply go on like that. Actually there was no special reason … I think, with regard to ambitions I just wanted to devote myself to something special.

And when Aikido became this matter …

Well, the most obvious thing at that time was Aikido. Thus I asked my father insistently to take me with him as his companion to the seminars in Germany . After receiving the permission to participate I attended the Aikido classes whenever I could from about a half year before the seminars started. The most important seminar in summer was the two-week seminar at the Herzogenhorn (a location in the so called Black Forest ). Many high dan degree holders were there, who practiced already more than 10 years continuously, and they expected from the beginning good manners and accurate movements.

On top of that I was the only Japanese besides my father. Moreover at that time the second midterm examinations took place, and when I explained the situation to the school they permitted me as a special measure to handle those days as legal holidays.

The conditions were settled, and finally you travelled to Germany.

With the attempt to go abroad ‘my world’ changed in any case. Up to now I only had the intention to move my body during the training in the Dojo. At the seminars various people from about 10 countries of the world gathered. When I was able to communicate with those people via the training I had the feeling that all people are the same, although race and nationality are different.

At the age of only 17 that surely was a cultural shock?

When I studied international problems and actual political issues at the high school, I thought that there are communication problems because of the difference of the countries. But even if the nationalities are different I could never feel something like that if I tried to contact individuals. By all means I felt pleasure. When I returned to Japan , I thought it would be a waste to continue to practice in the same way as before. Thus I continue to practice like I did after the decision to go to Germany , because I was able to get to learn the Aikido techniques and the spiritual depth.

What impression did you have when you were able to participate personally in Shimizu Sensei’s foreign seminars?

I was full of respect. He went to countries with different cultures all alone, and I think that it is excellent to be a representative of authentic Japanese spirit.

We now will turn back to the issue of daily practice. Isn’t it a very special training for you being „Uke“ of Shimizu Sensei?

Far more than being a good and able Uke I tell myself that I must not be overwhelmed by the power of Shimizu Sensei, who is throwing me. There are moments in which Sensei’s techniques are quite frightening. And I think the objective is that I ask myself how to practice in a way that I am not defeated by this power. During practice there are no special father and son feelings.

Which points do you think most important when teaching children?

Parents pay most attention to etiquette. I think it is quite important for the education of the children that they – although only temporarily – have a place, where they learn manners. And we are glad if that, what they learn in the training, helps them to overcome difficulties. I think, that is just the same as in normal classes. We are not just repeating simple movements, but we want to practice together with a strong mind.

Could you finally tell us once again something about your decision to become Uchi-Deshi?

I want to understand my own unripeness quite well, and there is a mountain of experiences and personal adventures necessary.

Imagining now a future vision as Budoka I think when fulfilling my mission during daily practice I want not to break down by tough tests and I want to make use in some way or the other of the powers which affect me.


Kenta Shimizu was borne 1983 in Tokyo . At the age of two years he wore a Dogi for the first time, and from second year primary school he went for the Aikido classes all alone. He graduated from the private Wako high school, and then studied at the Wako University . At the chair for Human Relationships he studied modern sociology. In his final examination work he investigated new options for Aikido under the title ‘Budo and Education’.

As hobby he works on video photographing, and when he went to the seminars as a companion he produce a video work from the taken clips this time. His movies are outstanding and professional.

His favourite movie is ‘ Casablanca ’ and surely he was fascinated how Bogie (main part by H. Bogart) and the other characters showed their individuality.

In sports he is a great football fan, and he follows the games of the national team. He has no favourite player, and he tells us that he likes players, who are able to fascinate by their play. This shows the future visions of a Budoka.

© translated by Peter Nawrot 08/2006