On November 25th, 2000 Norman Patterson, originally a student of the Ottawa Branch, traveled the Pacific Rim on a Canadian Forces mission to Beijing. Norm was able to include a layover at Kadena Airbase on Okinawa as part of the flight plan. After he landed a phone call and a short ride by car later (courtesy of James East) he was at the Ryusyokai So Honbu for a personal meeting with Senaha Shigetoshi-sensei. The following is an e-mail he sent me that he allowed me to publish. -Ed
L to R James East 4-Dan, Senaha Shigetoshi Hanshi 9-Dan, Norman Patterson
As you are well aware, I was able to keep the C-130 Hercules on schedule and visit Senaha Sensei in Okinawa. It was the highlight of my mission to the Orient. We landed in Kadena Air Force Base Thursday night and I contacted James East immediately. He called the Sensei and reported that I was invited to meet him at the Dojo at 9:30 Friday morning. I was very thrilled and honored to be given this opportunity.
James picked me up at the Base and drove us to Naha to be 10 minutes early for the meeting. The Sensei was upstairs and James went to see him. He was told to return to the Dojo with me that he would be down shortly. James showed me around the Dojo and told me a few stories of what it is like to live in Japan and be a direct student of the Sensei. He has been in Okinawa for 18 months and he is very modest about it and his knowledge of our style.
The Sensei entered the Dojo and James formally introduced me to him. I was pleasantly surprised at how welcome I felt. The Sensei was not formal and he was smiling as if he knew me in some way. James explained later that the fact that I am your direct student means a lot to the Sensei and he also really appreciates being visited. The Sensei had prepared a table and chairs in the rear corner of the Dojo with refreshments. He asked that we sit down with him and share food and drinks. Shortly after we sat down, I asked James to tell the Sensei that I had a present for him. The Sensei stood up and I offered him a plaque engraved with my Squadrons crest. In the back of the plaque, the following inscriptions are displayed :
To Senaha Sensei
I also offered him a ball cap from the Canadian Army Parachute Team, the Sky Hawks. The Sensei seemed very pleased and he placed the plaque on the Shinzen. He gave me a business card and I reciprocated. He gave me six ti-machiwaras and he signed two of them. I gave him a picture of my son Daniel and I and the Sensei showed me many pictures from the albums he keeps in the Dojo. I asked him to write his name on a piece of paper and he wrote: Goju Ryu, Ryusyo Kai Senaha Shigetoshi in kanji of course. Later James told me he was a bit surprised that the Sensei wrote his name down as he does not particularly like to sign his name on blank papers. This was almost a protocol error on my part. We stayed at the dojo slightly more than two hours and the Sensei politely excused himself before returning upstairs.
I was impressed at how close James seems to be to the Sensei. The Sensei treated him like a family member. He asked James to translate things he wanted to say to me and James did an excellent job. James is a true dedicated student and his knowledge of Ryusyo Kai will benefit us greatly in Canada when he returns. He is very tuned in on the Senseis perception of things and his protocol expertise probably saved me from embarrassing myself a number of times. I was really impressed that he took a day off to bring me to the Sensei and show me around in Naha. A true karatebrother. James also revealed to me that the Sensei thinks highly of you and this is why I was made to feel so welcome. Thank you very much for having opened this door for me and allowing me to meet our Sensei in Okinawa.
Major Norman Patterson is currently flying C-130's out of CFB Trenton but will be deployed in January 2002 to XXXXX to fly AWACs for NATO.