A Collage of Memories
By Sensei Brad Cosby
When Sensei Neil asked me to write an article about Sensei Shintani, I knew it would not be an easy task. I spent many hours walking in secluded wooded areas and often overcome with emotion. The words I formulated in my head could only express a mere fraction of my unique experience as a martial artist.
I traveled across Southern Ontario with Sensei on a constant basis from the age of 12 to 19. These were formative years in my life and he was the single most important influence on my life. I think of it now and he was at the same physical age of his life that I am now. I remember watching as Sensei warmed up before class. He would stand in hachji-dachi and throw the most amazing zuki, a punch that had so much speed and power and was so focussed. A punch that Sensei would throw with every fiber of his being. It was as though a bit of all his life experiences was part of each technique.
Simcoe trips would begin at 4:30 to make 7:30 classes. These journeys included stops at numerous coffee shops were Sensei often engaged other patrons in conversations on any subject that they cared to discuss. He often talked about sport celebrities and teams of the day. Muhammad Ali, Broadstreet Bullies (Philadelphia Flyers) and O.J. Simpson were some of his favorites. Sensei was always more interested in the strategies than the actual outcome. We would listen to Hamilton Radio talk show host Tom Cherrington. Cherrington was controversial for the time - pretty mild stuff today. Sensei would first listen, a smile would come to his face, his hand would go to his mouth and then he would laugh. This ritual was always followed by a humorous commentary by Sensei.
I remember enjoying many culinary delights with Sensei. He always looked forward to going to Sensei Dave Manara's tournament in Toronto. After the tournament we would go to the Town and Country - a Restaurant that had crab claws on their smorgasbord. We would eat nothing but crab claws for hours. The Town and Country went bankrupt; not saying there is any connection.
Another favorite was a Chow Mien House in Hagersville. We would stop there on the way home from Simcoe for scallops, which we would dip in a sauce of hot mustard and soy sauce that Sensei would concoct at the table.
I remember Sensei's disappointment when old guard blackbelts left as he made changes to katas, made white gis mandatory and made head contact an automatic disqualification. At this time he stated "That's O.K, I have a core group. These people that stick with me are the ones that will build this organization." Sensei envisioned an organization that was built on trust, honesty, humility and honor. Techniques should be hard and real not flicky; tournament competition would be hard; intense but controlled, with no intent to injure. Competitors would compete with honesty and good sportsmanship and showboating would be non-existent.
Sensei was always surprised and disappointed when someone wronged him. He expected everyone to be as honorable as he was. Unfortunately that is not always the way, even in martial arts which is suppose to be based on honor. When this happened, Sensei would say, " I have to be more careful, I can not let that happen again." Then somewhere down a not too distant road, it would happen again and Sensei would say the exact same thing. Some may say to be that trusting is a fault, I see it as more of a virtue as he was never tarnished by the corruption of others.
As I sat with the other pallbearers at the funeral I glanced over at the people paying their last respects. I saw some of the karateka that choose a different path and I thought "Yeah, I a may not have your money or your notoriety but I am a multi millionaire - for having followed a man who was the purest, both physically and spiritually in his karate. And a truly honorable man."
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Sensei Brad Cosby