Yukio Kawahara-shihan

1940-2011

1940–2011

A brief biography

Yukio Kawahara-shihan was a vital force in Cana­dian Aikido for many years. Dur­ing his 36-year career in this coun­try, Sen­sei under­took a heavy, nation-wide teach­ing sched­ule and was instru­men­tal in estab­lish­ing the Cana­dian Aikido Fed­er­a­tion as a strong, national orga­ni­za­tion. Ranked as 8th dan, he was Hombu Dojo’s offi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive in Canada.

Born in 1940 in Nagasaki Pre­fec­ture, Japan, Sen­sei trained in var­i­ous mar­tial arts in his youth. He began his Aikido career at the age of 17 in Osaka as an uchideshi (per­sonal stu­dent) of Bansen Tanaka-shihan, a promi­nent early dis­ci­ple of the founder of Aikido, Mori­hei Ueshiba, O-Sensei.

Sen­sei served as assis­tant instruc­tor at Osaka Aikikai from the early 1960s to 1972. O-Sensei would often visit Osaka for long peri­ods dur­ing this time, when Sen­sei had reg­u­lar, per­sonal expe­ri­ence of O-Sensei’s teaching.

In 1972, he went to Tai­wan to serve as chief instruc­tor at Tai­wan Aikikai, an assign­ment he much enjoyed. How­ever, as a con­se­quence of polit­i­cal dis­agree­ment at the national level between Japan and Tai­wan, he was forced to return to Japan in 1973.

In Osaka once again, he served as a senior instruc­tor at Osaka Aikikai as well as teach­ing at var­i­ous dojos in the area includ­ing uni­ver­sity dojos. He was also chief instruc­tor at Okayama Aikikai.

Invited to Mon­treal in 1975, he taught at Aikido Ken­sankai and began a long career of teach­ing sem­i­nars across Canada and the U.S.A. In 1977, he moved to Van­cou­ver, B.C., and became chief instruc­tor at Van­cou­ver Aikikai.

He worked tire­lessly to spread Aikido through­out West­ern Canada, also teach­ing in the east­ern part of the coun­try and instruct­ing at sem­i­nars in the U.S.A., Japan, Europe and Mex­ico. The par­tic­i­pants well remem­ber his pow­er­ful tech­nique, his tra­di­tional view of Aikido and his intense focus on cor­rect prac­tice of basics.

Sen­sei was respon­si­ble for cre­at­ing the annual B.C. sum­mer camp, which debuted in 1979. As a high­light of the Cana­dian Aikido cal­en­dar, it rou­tinely drew par­tic­i­pants from across Canada, North Amer­ica and inter­na­tion­ally. Over the years, many notable senior shi­han taught at this camp, includ­ing the Aikido Doshu (leader), Moriteru Ueshiba, the Founder’s grandson.

Sen­sei served as the first tech­ni­cal direc­tor of the B.C. Aikido Fed­er­a­tion and in 2005 was named the Cana­dian Aikido Federation’s first tech­ni­cal direc­tor. He was also a mem­ber of the North Amer­i­can Shi­hankai, an orga­ni­za­tion com­posed of sev­eral of the most senior inter­na­tional Aikido instructors.

Despite becom­ing ill with can­cer early in the decade, he per­sisted with an active teach­ing sched­ule and in his efforts to strengthen the CAF. He expressed great deter­mi­na­tion to be present at the 2011 B.C. sum­mer camp, but unfor­tu­nately, it was not to be. He passed away in Vic­to­ria on June 2, 2011, sur­rounded by loyal and affec­tion­ate students.

A sign of his great gen­eros­ity and ded­i­ca­tion to Aikido in Canada was a large bequest to a trust fund intended to help in fur­ther improv­ing tech­ni­cal stan­dards in Cana­dian Aikido.

Kawahara-shihan had an ency­clo­pe­dic knowl­edge of mar­tial arts. He was a deeply pri­vate man who had lit­tle inter­est in celebrity or cer­e­mony. His Aikido was for his stu­dents, and he taught them as a men­tor, with great atten­tion and patience.

He is deeply missed by the Cana­dian Aikido com­mu­nity, which now faces the chal­lenge of con­tin­u­ing his Aikido legacy.

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Contact Info
Cana­dian Aikido Federation
c/o CAF Sec­re­tary
Doug Math­ieu
56 Som­er­set Park SW
Cal­gary, Alberta T2Y 3H4
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