Obituary: Kazuo Chiba, 1940 – 2015

Even though I no longer formally practice Aikido, it is a martial art that still matters to me, and one I often think of. I still miss it, and not just because of the hakama.

Recently, T.K. Chiba shihan passed away. He was one of the few living disciples of Aikido’s founder Morihei Ueshiba and his son Kisshomaru, having served as their uchi-deshi for seven years and taking his teachings abroad. He spent ten years teaching in Britain, and he ran a dojo in San Diego from 1981.

I am incredibly fortunate to have trained with two of his students, one of them being my Sensei Denzil Beukes in Grahamstown. Though he may have taught an ocean away, he had an influence on my Aikido, my beloved Rhodes Aikido club, and on my martial arts journey as a whole. His approach to personal development through adversity remains influential to this day.

“I try to stick to the traditional ways as much as possible. The martial, warrior spirit is something I admire greatly and is something I try to preserve. The combatative arts have a profound body history in them and I don’t want to lose it. But it’s more than that. We follow the art, which is struggle. And through the struggle, we transcend into the path of Aikido. Eventually, it brings harmony between you and the external world.”

As more and more of the few remaining disciples begin pass away from old age, regardless of style, it is important that we continue building a martial arts repository online. We are fortunate to have something as valuable as Youtube for preserving footage of how these great teachers trained, and taught, and inspired. So much has already been lost in martial history – the firebombings of Japan in WW2 and the invasion of Okinawa by Allied forces decimated valuable archives and killed numerous students and teachers. As we bid farewell to the giants of our different arts, let us ensure that their legacy and contributions remain long after they do.

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