By Ray Hughes https://smacus.com/about-us/
This article was originally published: Bitter-Sweet” in August of 2011 in a Wado Newsletter I edited from 2010 to 2017. The article discussed the bitterness of the passing of a Master and the sweetness of a successful first year of the newsletter. It has been re-edited October 2023.
Very Fortunate to have trained with Master Suzuki
I consider myself fortunate to have trained with Sensei on about half a dozen occasions over the past few decades. He stood out among the other Wado masters I had encountered. As an instructor, he was stern and demanding, but his passion for Wado was undeniable. He had a genuine affection for students who shared his love for Wado, and he didn’t hesitate to show his disdain for those who didn’t share the same enthusiasm. He was never one to mince words.
Suzuki Sensei was a master at displaying the formidable and nuanced sides of Wado. In my twenties, I couldn’t fully grasp the subtleties of Wado, so seeing its power was crucial. I continue to apply this teaching philosophy with my young adult students to this day.
First Encounter was Brutal
My first encounter with Sensei dates back to around 1980. Sensei Moore (my instructor) and I embarked on a twelve-hour driving journey to take part in an all-day outdoor seminar in Salt Lake City, Utah. Honestly, there are only two vivid memories from that experience. First, the challenging training conditions – we endured snow, rain, wind, and searing heat during that single-day seminar. The other recollection is from the drive back to Arizona the next day. Every time we stopped for gas, I had to gingerly maneuver out of the car, place my hand on the ground, painfully roll onto my hands and knees, gradually pull myself upright using the car, and then attempt to walk as though nothing was amiss. I avoided eye contact with other customers, making it one of the most unforgettable memories of my life.
Another distinct memory revolves around bringing Sensei to Arizona for the second time. We knew our opportunities to train with him would be limited, so we aimed to maximize our time together. He asked us what we wanted to work on, and we listed 5 or 6 katas and the 10 kihon kumite. He reacted with a disapproving shake of his head, and our training session focused entirely on half a kata.
Suzuki Sensei was a complex individual. He could be a tough instructor but treated us with great care and kindness when the U.S. team participated in the World Wado Championships in London, England in 1989. That experience will forever stay with me.
As we reflect on Sensei’s life, let’s also remember that other Wado masters are growing older. It’s essential that we show them respect and appreciation. Time is fleeting, and we should cherish the wisdom they impart while they’re with us.
To get current Wado International Karate Federation information, the organization he formed, go to https://www.wikf.com/