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Cheryl Matrasko
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Dedication to the late Isao Takahashi, 6th Dan

by Cheryl Matrasko

This page is dedicated to my Aikido instructor, the late Isao Takahashi 6th Dan.

Takahashi Sensei was the most influential person in the many lives that he touched --- even my own. From the time I knew him in the mid 60's until his death in the early 70's, and up until this very day --- I find that I am still discovering new meanings, transcending the old ones, and finding deeper substance in all of the lessons I had learned from him, even as my age approaches the middle 40's. As with all things in life, we can only hope to keep evolving and revealing importance and purpose, throughout our own existence. I know that the revelations and actualizations of today will change and be enhanced with many tomorrows. And with time and patience various levels of wisdom will be bestowed. It is through Takahashi's discipline, kindness, humility, and honorable character that I still continue Aikido today and find myself trying as best as I can, to be as honorable in the Bushido tradition and as strong in this honorability with Budo in my heart and soul.

With all sincerity, I dedicate this page to Isao Takahashi Sensei primarily ... and lastly to all those martial artists that endeavor all their lives to be honorable without compromise, practice their martial art with devotion for the preservation of life, and desire to join their martial arts skills with the perfection of a good and honorable character into homogeneity.

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Isao Takahashi, 6th Dan 1969

Photo owned and displayed

at the courtesy of Robert Sakamoto

 

Isao Takahashi remembered, recalling things he used to say:

It is not the rank that makes the man, but the man makes the rank.

It is more difficult to be an Aikidoka of good character --- honorable (he points to his one-point or center), than to just do waza.

The waza is easy ... it is outside. It is easy to make this look good (he makes motions around his body, pointing to the outside appearance of the body). This is hard to make better (He points to his head and one-point or ---center).

Aikido means to do both. You cannot say you do Aikido if you only do the waza. Aiki means mixing (blending) both together ... so to do Aikido you must make both waza and the inside --- perfect. You must do this every day, even outside of dojo.

These statements have been evolving for me ever since the first time I remember hearing him say them. I suppose that in time, they will keep evolving and have deeper meaning for me as I get older. As I have learned, wisdom takes time and patience and will not be rushed. So, while we can barter and bargain for a particular pecking order of dan ranking, it is a much more difficult task to attain true Aiki. So, while we quantify each other by the rank we have ... or feel we are entitled to, perhaps we need to practice true Budo. The challenge is the perfection of self, body, and the world in which we must co-exist and practice true Aiki with.

What I admire the most of my late instructor, is that he never thought of himself as being the perfect Aikidoist. He thought of himself as a human being with all the human weaknesses, frailties, and imperfections as any other person. He never told painted stories of Ueshiba Sensei doing some super human feats, walking on water, etc. He always wanted his students to " ... think positive ...", and " ... think forward ...", and be well-balanced individuals of good character - worthy to be called martial artists or what he termed as Samurai. He told us to never give up trying to attain perfect aiki, Bushido, and honor. This was all in the diligent quest to be honorable and focus to be a better Aikidoist. I find that Takahashi Sensei accepted his humanity and tried continuously to be that honorable warrior of Bushido tradition, and to blend it with good character, in Aikido.

***

Cheryl Matrasko is a Network Analyst for the department of Networking and Communications at a prominent Chicago hospital. Formerly the LAN Administrator for
Northwestern University Medical School - Department of OB/GYN, and assistant LAN Administrator to the previous MIS of the School of Law. Cheryl started Aikido in 1965,
studying under Isao Takahashi as her first instructor. She enjoyed working out under many well known Aikido instructors during her tenure with Takahashi Sensei and thereafter following his death in 1971. Cheryl has dedicated time with instructors in Northern Shaolin
Long-Fist, Seven Stars Praying Mantis, and Daito-Ryu Aikijujitsu. Currently, she is instructing Aikido at Northwestern University's Chicago Campus and founded Aikido World Journal.

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Michio Hikitsuchi 10th Dan 1978
(C. Matrasko as uke)
1978 C. Matrasko

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9/11/2001