Thursday, October 17, 2013

Morihiko "Mark" Murashige 1945-2013

Mark Murashige, 6th Dan, at the USAF Western Region Summer Camp, 1998 (uke, Bobby Angotti). Photo from San Diego Aikikai Calendar, 2001

I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Mark Murashige Sensei. Mark (who always seemed a little self-conscious when addressed as "Sensei") was one of my instructors at San Diego Aikikai where I trained for nearly five years in the late eighties and early nineties.  SDA was then the dojo of the  formidable Kazuo Chiba (8th Dan, Shihan): Murashige Sensei was second-in-command.  He was one of my all time favourite martial arts instructors, regardless of discipline. His teaching style was  informal, almost to a fault, in an environment that is notoriously rigid and etiquette-laden. He was also very funny and naturally put students at ease.  Needless to say, his classes were well-attended and very popular.  His interpretation of aikido was unique and devastatingly effective. He liked to use clever but practical, uncomplicated, short-range, techniques that reminded me a little of Krav Marga or even Wing Chun. If anyone ever doubted the utility of aikido as a means of self-defense, they only had to attend one of  Mark's classes to get the record put straight!  He wasn't a big man but his technique was brilliant:  I'm told that as he got older and his strength diminished, his technique continued to improve and his aikido became extraordinarily powerful but never invoked brute force.

Mark's obituary will be written and published by others elsewhere although a compelling interview with him can be found here. My intention is simply to pay tribute to a remarkable teacher and an individual who gave me an interesting and enduring perspective of aikido.

RIP, Mark-San  -I will remember you fondly.

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