23 Mar Chris Matsuo – My First Martial Arts Instructor
In the mid-1990’s, I moved to Oahu, Hawaii, and lived in the town of Kaneohe. Since I was now “living the dream,” I decided to add one more of my dreams and begin training in martial arts. I grew up idolizing Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, Billy Jack, and the TV show Kung Fu, but was unable to train as a child and had been too preoccupied in college to consider starting.
Looking through the phone book, I realized that Oahu was a mecca of martial arts styles. Judo, jujitsu, karate, kung fu, tae kwon do, aikido, eskrima, kendo, lima lama, ku’ialua, and many more were all available and driving distance was not far for any of them. I also looked at the Honolulu newspaper and saw a small listing in the classified ads for martial arts classes at Mo’ili’ili Community Center near UH-Manoa. I called and arranged to attend.
The instructor, Sensei Chris Matsuo, is one of the most positive-minded people I have ever met. Small in stature but large in spirit, he impressed me with his warm personality as well as his skills. Chris was well trained in ninjitsu and in the process of adding Daito Ryu Aikijujitsu Roppokai to his repertoire. His lessons combined aspects of both styles. The linked video is a demo of this combined style. One of our fellow students does an admirable job of ukemi in this display!
Please note, Chris had the most amazing breakfalls I have ever witnessed. Many times I saw him throw himself high in the air, twist, flip and land gently on hardwood flooring in ways I can admire but not duplicate. He was like a cat! I will also admit that the Roppokai variation of aikijujitsu is subtle and advanced in quality, more than my fledgling mind could master at the time. But my ability to apply wristlocks began with Sensei Matsuo’s instruction, and his explanation of those concepts continues to be part of my martial arts toolbox. Thank you to him and all the Mo’ili’ili students who helped me begin my journey in the world of martial arts.