When I first met Higashi Sensei, I would have been a 17-year-old brown belt. I remember the clinics were huge at that time, in the early 1980. The gymnasiums were always full whenever Higashi Sensei came for a clinic. There would always be senior people from all Atlantic Canada who came to train. The training was very hard in those days with lengthy conditioning exercises followed by hundreds & hundreds of repetitions.
I remember one of the first times training with Higashi Sensei. It was at a summer camp in Hampton New Brunswick and I was a brown belt. I had never experienced this type of training before. We were up at 6 am and by 6:30 we were all out on the road running. I was in the lead pack and I figure we ran 4 miles or so. Then into the gym and mokuso for 15 minutes while everyone straggled in. Higashi Sensei started us out with some basics and then 1000 punches on each side followed by 300 kicks on each leg. Finally, we broke for breakfast. I was completely spent, and this was just the first class of a 5-day summer camp!
It was during these formative years that I adopted a healthy work ethic in my training. In those early years training was a lot of fun and there was a sense of camaraderie amongst practitioners born, partially at least, from going through the hard training together. We hosted several clinics and summer camps with Higashi Sensei, in Yarmouth. When I think back, I have nothing but fond memories of those times.
As the years passed and my knowledge increased it seemed that every clinic brought a number of “changes”. It was like you could never keep up to date. Then in 2008, Higashi Sensei decided to leave Soke and ICKF. This was a very difficult time for me but, in the end, my thirst for knowledge won out and I decided to stay with Soke. I remember calling Higashi Sensei and pleading with him that he did not have to leave, that surely things could be worked out. However, his mind was made up. I told him that I could not follow him and that I would keep the promise he made to OSensei for him if he could not.
It is undeniable, the impact that Higashi Sensei had on me after nearly 30 years of training together. I consider myself very lucky to have had Higashi Sensei as my instructor and, I wish him nothing but the best.