oday marks the birthday of Inomoto-Hanshi who is an exceptional technician and a major contributor to my understanding of Okinawan and Japanese Budo.
Inomoto-hanshi lived down the street from O-Chitose and although not his longest student (that belongs to Kugizaki Sensei) was his 'Tori' or "Uke' for most demonstrations. Raised in KyuShu in the aftermath of the war he often told me stories of how difficult life was with especially painful experience around malnutrition and hunger.
Losing his father at a young age Inomoto-Sensei would join the Self-defense forces and become a major - the highest non-commissioned office post.
As a child he trained in judo and thus was a favourite 'partner' for O Sensei during demos. Also when O Sensei was ill, Inomoto-sensei was there to work out the kinks in the masters aching body.
During his early years in the 自衛隊 (Jieita), Inomoto met Chitose and began to train with him. At that time it was Inomoto, Kugizaki and later Sakamoto who were the deshi. Under Chitose, Inomoto would achieve the rank of Kyoshi, 8th dan. O-Chitose also gave the young Inomoto strict instructions to study kobudo and bring back his learning to the Hombu.
Hanashi also trained in Jyukendo and held dans in a few karate groups - these are displayed on the walls of his office.
Later the young Inomoto was stationed to Okinawa where he would meet O-Akamine from whom he learned kobudo. He told us of many fond memories of Akamine Sensei, with a towel wrapped around his head, making noodles and feeding his deshi after long practice. Often such dinners ended in songs! As his student you could definitely see the love and respect Inomoto has for Akamine Sensei and for kobudo. If you ever have an opportunity to see Inomoto sensei use a bo, you will understand what a 'bujin' really functions like.
It was also during these years that he met his life-long friend
whom he considered one of his truest friends and a great budoka. He use to love to tell the tale of the 'blue-eye' blonde who showed up with a big "hi" at the airport (she was in the American forces) when they met. Together they would have a massive impact on shaping the kobudo world.
Hanshi went on to form his own organization JikiShin Ryu (Original or True Lineage Way) which did not deviate from the teachings he received from O-Chitose and O-Akamine.
However, never one to rest on his laurels in his late 60s he began the serious study of iaido and became one of the top ranked and recognized swordsmen within the Zen Nippon Iaido Renmei.
His organization in under the guardianship of his youngest daughter Mami who is an exceptional budoka in her own right. Her performance of Bassai is flawless!
When sensei got promoted to 9th Dan, he was doing to throw out his very worn and 'dirty' kyoshi belt which had been one of a couple he had gotten as a present from Chitose. He was talked out of it and the belt survives.
Happy Birthday to a truly exceptional human being! I am blessed that our paths met and I still continue to explore and unpack the lesson taught
Okinawan and Japanese Budo
James M. Hatch
International Educator who happens to be passionate about Chito Ryu Karate. Born in Ireland, educated in Canada, matured in Japan