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Passing of Ikeda Teruo Sensei
1927 - 2020

By David Kolb

Ikeda Teruo Sensei, Iaido 8 Dan Hanshi was the head of the Osaka Kendo Kyokai (Dai Ken Kyo) and also formerly Head of the Iaido Division of the Osaka Kendo Renmei.

He was also notably a member of the committee of high level teachers that developed and introduced two additional forms into Zen Ken Ren Iaido in 2000.

Ikeda Sensei’s passing aged 93 in October 2020, is a great loss to his students, family and friends and iaido in general. Over the years I’ve been visiting and training in Japan he has had a profound influence on me and by extension the way we practise at Bayside Budokai.

I distinctly remember my initial encounter with him. My attempt at challenging for 1 Dan iaido had been organised prior to my first visit to Japan back in 1993. Then as now, candidates in Osaka are expected to participate in seminar conducted a few days or a week prior to the actual test. I was introduced to and practised with Obayashi Sensei during the afternoon and afterwards he took me to the seminar venue, a big public gymnasium close to Shin Osaka Station. It was pretty intimidating, to come from the back blocks of Brisbane to be thrown in to this room that was wall to wall swords and people who seemed to know what they we doing.

My natural instinct was to keep a low profile but Obayashi Sensei had other ideas and sent me out on the floor to practise. It wasn’t long until I became acutely aware of this oldish guy standing in front of me. I could say he was giving me a once over but it was more than that. He was clearly someone important and giving me a full evaluation. He didn’t say anything or make any corrections and after what seemed like eternity he sort of nodded and wandered off, leaving me completely freaked out. This proved to be fairly amusing to Obayashi Sensei, who happily informed me that was Ikeda Sensei and in due course formally introduced me to him and the other luminaries of Osaka Iaido.

Ikeda Fukuda

Front Row: L-R Obayashi Tadashi Sensei, Fukuda Kazuo Sensei (9Dan), Ikeda Teruo Sensei
Back Row: David Kolb, Trent Carberry, Naoko Kai. Osaka Shudokan

Back then the main Dai Ken Kyo teachers were Ikeda Sensei, Harada Sensei and Yagyu Sensei all Iaido 8 Dan Hanshi and retired police kendo instructors. They were continuing the legacy of Sakamoto Kichiro Sensei who had actively promoted iaido within the police having to overcome some resistance from the kendo establishment along the way.

Dai Ken Kyo was pretty much a police club, so I had a connection from the start. All of the next level teachers like Obayashi Sensei, Mitsuyuki Sensei and Kubo Sensei were serving police and we trained at the Moriguchi Police Station dojo. Thinking back now, the level of instruction was unreal, a typical session with about a dozen students would be taken by two 8 Dan Hanshi assisted by three or four 7 and 8 Dans.

Ikeda Sensei was generally reserved but there could never be any doubt of his authority. He always epitomised his background of a professional martial arts teacher. Whenever you would arrive for class he would always be there waiting in the instructors office at the police dojo or the room set aside for the Sensei at the Shudokan or any other venue. No matter how early you were for class, he always seemed to be there before you.

Coming from Australia with our laid back approach to formality, the ritual at the end of training was a real eye opener to me. Ikeda Sensei always had a designated driver to take him home and everyone would line up in the police station carpark to wave goodbye. Much like the routine at Japanese service stations this even included a guy who would go out on the roadway to stop the traffic for his car to exit the driveway. Everyone would keep waving until the car was out of sight before they could head off home or out for a drink.

Ikeda Yagyu

Yagyu Sensei and Ikeda Sensei perform Eishin Ryu Tsume Ai no Kurai at the Higashi Yodogawa Taikukan 1997

With his background, Ikeda Sensei was also skilled in kobudu. I recall one night at training when he and Harada Sensei did a fantastic impromptu demonstration for the class of jojutsu, jutte, and kusuri gama. No one said anything, but he knew I was interested in jodo and was going home soon so I got the feeling that this was pretty much for my benefit.

Heijo Shin

Heijo Shin Kore Michi by Ikeda Teruo

Heijo Shin Kore Michi was Ikeda Sensei’s motto. One of his standard gifts was a fan or placard upon which he had hand brushed or inscribed this. An example holds pride of place in our dojo.

If one was to ask What was Ikeda Sensei’s iai like? I’d say he embodied heijo shin, a calm everyday mind. There was nothing extraneous, or flashy about the way he did iai. Everything was contained and perfectly in place. Whether it was teaching a class or performing an embu, it was exactly the same. He went in and nailed it without any pretence.

Ikeda Embu

Ikeda Sensei 2nd from left. Kyoto Butokuden 1997

He also had a keep it simple approach to teaching. I always felt that he had an acute appreciation of people’s limitations and could identify and focus on fundamental problems or mistakes. He gave praise when deserved and criticism where warranted and kept everything in perspective.

Over the years, whenever I would visit there would always be a set routine. Naturally, the first thing I would do upon first arriving was to greet Ikeda Sensei. After Naoko and I got married, the first thing he would always ask was Aka chan mada? (Have you had a baby yet?) this went on for about 10 years before Emiko showed up. As soon as that happened he switched to wanting to see a photo of the baby, so I would then have to make sure I always had a photo ready to show him on my phone whilst he made a big deal about how cute she was.

At his age, Ikeda Sensei had not been actively performing iaido for some years but his guiding presence was always in the dojo. It goes without saying that things won’t be the same with his passing and he will be sadly missed.