Shihan Reishin Kawai
Reishin (Munenori Toshio) Kawai, 8th dan, was born on 28th February, 1931, in the town of Yasugi, Shimane, in Japan. During his boyhood his health was fragile, which lead him to receive acupuncture treatment, and to practice Sumo wrestling and Kenjutsu. In his youth he became an uchi-deshi for 7 years in the household of Torataro Saito, who taught him oriental medicine - as well as Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and Ueshiba-ryu (!) Aiki-Budo. Technically, Kawai Senseis entire foundation was therefore old school, in line with that of Gozo Shioda Sensei (Yoshinkan) and Morihiro Saito Sensei (Iwama).
Subsequently, he studied at Tsukushoku University, under the tutelage of Mishimasa Nishizawa, graduating as an M.D. in Oriental Medicine. Kawai Sensei proceeded to become an associate professor in the subjects of general acupunture and moxa technique at the Faculty of Oriental Medicine at Tsukushoku University. At the same time, he continued and updated his Aikijujutsu studies at the Aikikai Hombu Dojo - primarily studying with Saito Sensei on Sundays - for two years, before emigrating to Brazil and setting up practice as an M.D. there. Six years later he took a sabbatical to study Aikijujutsu and Aikido with Aritoshi Murashige Sensei, who encouraged him to also establish a dojo in Brazil - which Kawai Sensei then proceeded to do.
In 1963, the Founder of Aikido, Morihei Ueshiba, presented him with the Shihan diploma (the official recognition as a Master level teacher) in recognition of his high standards and of his efforts to disseminate Aikido - which Kawai Sensei ceaselessly continued to do throughout all of South America. From 1976 to 1984 he was Vice President of The International Aikido Federation (IAF), subsequently becoming Director General of The South American Aikido Federation, and the official repesentative of Aikikai Hombu Dojo in that subcontinent. In Brazil he married Leticia Okubo and became the father of two daughters, Cristina and Lilba Okubo Kawai, and the grandfather of two grandchildren, Lariza and Matias.
Until his untimely death, Kawai Sensei was the highest ranking Aikido practitioner in South America. He dedicated his life to promoting Aikido and training Aikido instructors. Kawai Sensei continued teaching until just before his passing on 27th January, 2010. It was impressive to feel the energy flowing through his every move, and to behold the knowledge and mastery with which he wielded the techniques of aikido - until the very end.
Kawai Sensei expressed his view of life thus:
"Illness comes from acting contrary to the rules of Nature. We must live in harmony with Nature, following the natural movements of the body without too much effort, in order to maintain good health and a long life. A martial art characterized by movements that attune you harmoniously to nature - that is Aikido.
All its movements are circular and the art lies not in attempting to control others, but yourself. When you control yourself, you will have complete mastery of yourself, and nothing will be impossible."