Ichitami Shikanai was born on July 30, 1946, in Aomori, in the northeast of the island of Honshu. Born in the country, between rice paddies and apple trees, Shikanai Sensei is the third in a family of five children, four men and one woman.
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His first contact with the practice of martial arts took place at a young age, when he was studying science, during Physical Education classes, where Judo and Kendo were taught, but “nothing too serious”. At the age of 19 Shikanai Sensei moved to Tokyo to study Political Science and Economics at Meiji University. These were years of great political turmoil and protests, especially those involving student movements, that took over the city streets and university corridors.
As soon as he entered the University, Shikanai Sensei began to prepare to take the test for the Karate Club. However, one day during a run, a misstep prevented him from continuing. The difficulty of walking led him to give up. From then on, Aikido entered his life. Shikanai Sensei had attended, during a Orientation Week, a demonstration of Aikido. That day, the zagi against knife technique caught his eye. In those troubled days when classes were suspended, at the exit of the library, where he used to spent his days studying, Shikanai Sensei saw a poster informing about the second call to the Aikido Club.
Classes took place from Monday to Saturday. On weekdays, classes lasted between an hour and a half and two hours, on Saturdays, three, and were usually guided by senpais. The first forty minutes were of intense physical preparation. Classes started with a series of push-ups, sit-ups, squats and rollers. Then came the techniques. Steady grabs, clumsy falls, head bumps and accidents were common, especially in irimi nage and shiro nage training.
The intense training routine was eased when Kobayashi Sensei, once a week, gave classes. The pace was slower, the movements smoother. Yasuo Kobayashi Sensei started practicing Aikido at the age of 22, at the Hombu Dojo, a period in which he divided his time between training and the Electrical Engineering course at Meiji University, where he founded the Aikido Club1
In the early 1970s, demonstrations and conflicts on the streets were still present. Shikanai Sensei graduated, but did not seek employment in his field. To support himself, he started working on construction works in the civil construction area, he worked in this sector for approximately two and a half years. During that time he lived among qualified workers, the way they worked caught his attention. The refined technique, the way to move, to use the tools, all this, in the future, would have a lot of influence on the way of Shikanai Sensei would think and practice Aikido. During this period, when it was possible, he tried to do some training at Hombu Dojo with Tohei Sensei.
2 Okumura Genta Sensei was a contemporary of Tamura Sensei at the Hombu Dojo. When Kobayashi Sensei started training Aikido he had already taken 3rd dan. Okumura Sensei was also a practitioner of Iaido, Jodo and Katori Shinto Ryu.
3 Shigeru Sakai at the time was living and working in Belo Horizonte, but still went to Rio de Janeiro weekly for work.
4 Shikanai Sensei taught in the Military Police for 10 years.