Interview: Minoru Kanetsuka Sensei 7th Dan British Aikido Federation
“The most important thing is gasho (press hands together in prayer) and rei (etiquette and good manners).” (Minoru Kanetsuka Sensei)
Born in 1939, aikidoka Minoru Kanetsuka Sensei has taught aikido to bodyguards of the royal household of Nepal and self-defense at a police training school in calcutta. He came to Britain in 1972 and became Technical Director of British Akikiai Federation in 1977.
Over the years, Kanetsuka Sensei has contributed immensely to aikido and has devised a style all of his own whilst stressing the importance of the basic principles and methods of this highly respectable and sophisticated martial art founded by Master Morihei Uyeshiba whom developed it through various other forms of martial arts such as Jujutsu, bojutsu (stick fighting) and bujutsu.
Although Kanetsuka Sensei is now in his 70s, he continues to teach along with his wife Mami Kanetsuka (whom is a force to be reckoned with herself and graciously assisted with this interview), and is busier than ever. As well as conducting frequent courses throughout Britain, Kanetsuka Sensei and his wife also teaches in Europe.
Diverse Japan first witnessed the incredible supremacy of Kanetsuka Sensei and his skill in the esoteric martial art aikido at the event Unite For Japan – Martial Aid 2011, which took place in London on 22nd May. This Japanese power-house that barely stands five-feet-tall, gave an outstanding demonstration that left the audience astonished. How could this little guy, carrying a red school rucksack, throw men twice his size like they were rag dolls? Amazing!
DJ is sincerely grateful to Kanetsuka Sensei for giving up his time and for allowing this interview to take place.
What made you decide to learn Aikido, and how old were you when you started?
I started Aikido at University aged 18 in 1958 (I was born in 1939). A friend told me about this martial art and said it was very interesting so I went along. I was a lazy boy so I didn’t want to practice judo or karate. When I started Aikido I remember holding a small lady’s hand and she threw me without any apparent difficulty. I was very shocked because I was very strong. This experience made me very interested in Aikido.
Were you a natural, or did you find the techniques a challenge to begin with?
Training was not based on techniques but exercises to develop kokyu-ho and I found this difficult to learn.
What mental training do you do and how much attention do you give to it?
I do not engage in mental training as a separate form of practice but it is part of my daily life and practice of Aikido. I did study Zen meditation for a while many years ago.
As an instructor, what principles do you try and instil in your students?
Discipline and obedience are very important; for example, the students must clean themselves and the dojo before class. I also emphasise the importance of respect for oneself and others and all material things.
Fear is man’s greatest enemy. In what way can Aikido help to eliminate this devastating opponent?
Many times I had trouble and could be killed at any moment but I was very lucky. I didn’t feel fear and I survived.
Who has been the greatest influence on your life?
Shioda sensei was my teacher and he paid a security so that I could travel. Also my few sempai.
What are your goals for the future in respect of your teaching and personal training?
I am very simple. I just practice. The most important thing is gasho (press hands together in prayer) and rei (etiquette and good manners). I saw this as part of daily life in many places. These must be expressions of the heart not just physical movements. Politicians use nationality and race for empires but I am not Japanese only a human being. I was the first person to take Aikido to Holland, Poland, Russia, and South Africa. I hope that my students from all over the world will continue to come to train with me.