“Just Train” My life was enriched by having the opportunity to train and know Sensei Kishi

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Kishi KarateBy Henry I Padrón-Morales

As we head into a new year while considering the past two, Sensei Kishi’s words continue to shine a light on simplicity. We often get caught up on the complexities that life puts before us to the point that everything stalls and challenges cause growth to stall. These two words, often spoken by Sensei Noboyuki Kishi, were placed above the door for everyone to see as they entered our dojo. Renown for repelling the dojo yaburi – literally someone who “breaks” a dojo, as a challenger who privately visits a dojo to test the strength of disciples of the dojo by actually fighting with them. He never lost against a yaburi!

 

Using yaburi as a metaphor, many of us have had to confront myriad challenges. Unlike Sensei Kishi, we may not overcome every challenge but there are lessons to be learned that serve to make us stronger. He was a uchideshi, at Kyokushin Kaikan headquarters in Japan meaning that he not only trained but lived in the dojo. This exemplifies a commitment that many claim but few attain. This is a trait that we see and feel by individuals who stand out for what they do for our community. There is a simplicity that can seem astounding in lieu of the whirlwind so many are caught in daily.

This was not a monster devoid of empathy but a truly humble and caring being. He was not like the movies and games that so many use as an alternate universe. “Starting each day by cleaning his dojo with a damp cloth, Sensei Kishi pursued karate as a martial art and aimed at developing himself as a martial artist.  Not karate for tournaments and fame but by practicing training and life in harmony with the rhythm of nature.” We too at the Rochester Dojo cleaned our floor before lessons in this manner. It is a moment of silence-a moving meditation between you, a cloth, and the floor.

Upon returning to Shinjo to care for his mother he decided to remain and build a mountain dojo where karateka and friends could go to train and leave behind the excess baggage and stress of daily life. Our Rochester Dojo was my place to realign and search internally for strength and insight. I would walk in psychically exhausted and leave energized with a Shoshin spirit and mind. I thank Sensei José Olivieri-Rivera for bringing Sensei Kishi to Rochester NY.

Sensei means teacher in the martial arts of karate and judo. Sensei Kishi was not interested in winning tournaments, knowing every move, being feared, winning at all cost to oneself and others. He kept it simple and was comfortable within himself. Something that is impossible for so many to do.

“His appearance with a long beard and his attitude towards training made him called ‘Karate Sennin’ – A sennin is a mountain hermit/an immortal mountain wizard in Taoism.”

These past two years have put us all in a different place. We are seeing the growth and decline of the collective will to do good. It has been a journey that puts to test the will to survive as well as the acceptance to die. It has been life and death for many. How do you define life and death? Whatever your answer is to this question, I remind you of Sensei Kishi’s two words:

“Just Train”

I drew my inspiration for this article from the obituary written by Osamu on May 1, 2018 and the website kishikarate.com which I encourage you to visit to learn more about a truly wonderful being that had a profound effect on me.

Today Kishi Karate has evolved into: Sho Shin Martial Arts shoshin@rochester.rr.com.

 

Henry Ignacio Padrón-Morales is co-owner of Hipocampo Children’s Books, LLC. He is a retired kindergarten early childhood bilingual/dual language teacher of the Rochester City School District. Henry participates in a broad range of activist, artistic, and intellectual pursuits. He is a published author whose work is archived in the Hunter College-Center for Puerto Rican Studies. He taught at Writers and Books and the SUNY Geneseo/Brockport Education programs for decades. He has written, collaborated, and been published in poetry anthologies, academic subject matter focusing in early childhood education, and linguistic research.