Joe Takehara, one of my instructors in the martial art of aikido was recently profiled by the online magazine Nikkei Chicago. Besides being a great teacher, he's had a really interesting life, having been born and raised on the West Coast, experienced the World War internment, and then moving to Chicago with his family. At 83, he's still one of the toughest guys I know, and quite frankly is probably tougher than I've ever been throughout his entire life. However, he's also quite a humble person. As the article's author, Erik Matsunaga, commented on the blog page of the Chicago Aikido Club (mine and Takehara Sensei's home dojo):
In my initial conversations with Joe, I found him to be a straightforward and humble man with a unique way of telling a story. Never having striven to be a public figure in the aikido community, he has nonetheless been there from the beginning, survived organizational splits and political strife, trained with the legends, and today remains the most senior student of the art form in Chicago, having unwittingly become something of a legend himself.
The article has only been out for a few days, and it's fascinating seeing the response it has been generating, as friends old and new have appeared online to reminisce and comment on this esteemed but in some ways little-known teacher. I have to say, I'm honored to have been one of his students and to have him as a member of the Chicago Japanese American community.