View Full Version : Nakamura Taizaburo (Nakamura-ryu)

13th May 2003, 21:10
I was just informed by sources in Japan that Nakamura Taizaburo sensei died in his sleep today.

Sensei had been involved in swordsmanship since he was 15 and was well-known and controversial -- yet respected -- in iaido, jukendo, and kendo circles. Nakamura sensei was the last surviving army fencing instructor of the Toyama Military Academy, and the last of the three major post-war Toyama Ryu teachers.

His leadership will be sorely missed.

Sadness cannot express my feelings at this time.
Guy Power

Ron Tisdale
13th May 2003, 21:19
My condolances, Mr. Power. I hope his association and students will cary on his legacy.

Ron Tisdale

Erik Tracy
13th May 2003, 21:23
My condolences. I never had the pleasure of meeting Nakamura Sensei, but have read some of the excerpts from his writings that you have shared with us here and I have enjoyed them immensely.

One can sense through the respect and honor you and others had for him as their instructor that we, the sword-art community, have lost someone of great value and heart.

Erik Tracy

Tom Smyth
13th May 2003, 21:25
I am not sure what to say. I feel EXTREMELY fortunate to have had an audience with Nakamura Sensei, his daughter and Roberto last November. His contributions to the art of the sword will be flet for many many years. I know his spirit will live on through his students.

Tom Smyth


Charlie Kondek
13th May 2003, 21:27
God bless, Guy, and everyone else involved with this man's legacy. Wow, is all I can say.

13th May 2003, 21:49

My heartfelt sympathies to you for the loss of your teacher. I know you were close to him.


13th May 2003, 21:54
This is a true loss for those involved in swordwork/study. Did he name a designated heir to his art? I wish his students and family all the best.

Neil Yamamoto
13th May 2003, 22:43
I'm sorry to hear that Sensei passed. He had a long life and left a great legacy with his students of his life in budo. My condolences to his family and students.

13th May 2003, 22:59
It is with great sadness that I write this post after finding out from Guy that Nakamura sensei has passed away at the age of 92 ½.
I was extremely fortunate to be with Tom Smyth and our friend Siri from our Machida dojo when we made the run to Tsurumi.
When we got there my friend Roberto met us at the train station. Roberto is Nakamura sensei’s student and right hand. He informed us that sensei was in the hospital having some routine pacemaker adjustments done and hadn’t been feeling well. He said that sensei insisted that he bring us to the hospital as regardless of how he felt. He had an obligation to meet the Americans (Tom and I) that came all that way to see him.
We arrived at the hospital and upon exiting the elevator we saw an elderly man sitting in a wheelchair that looked as though he was in a very deep sleep. Roberto san spoke in sensei’s ear and told him that we were there. The next thing that I heard was this loud and powerful shrike calling us to him. It was Nakamura sensei. He was awake and full of vigor. We walked over to him and sat our swords down and had Roberto san introduce us one by one. With each handshake and bow you could see the man come alive more and more every minute.
We talked about different styles that we had all studied and waza that was used. He mentioned to me that he studied a certain ryuha for 70yrs. And then quit doing it because he had finally realized that it didn’t work. He told us stories of training and how much he enjoyed teaching foreigners. When I asked him why he enjoyed teaching frontiers so much, he replied in this low deep voice “Because they have much kokoro”.
He then wanted to see our swords and I showed him my Howard Clark 1086M.
I have a picture holding it and and his eyes got nice and big. I started laughing so much at this point as I handed him my sword all of the nurses and his daughter as well as Roberto san got this really scared look on their faces as if all hell might break loose. Anyway, he made a few gestures with it in the motion of cutting and smiled really big saying that he really liked the sword a lot. The only thing that he said against it was that the large O-Choji hamon that was on it wasn’t good for fighting and that Suguha or Ko-Suguha was better for cutting. I was thinking oh great. He like my sword so much that I might have to give it to him which I would have done. Thank god he gave it back

Anyway, we were able to take a few pictures with him and thank him for his contribution to kenjutsu and tameshigiri as well as many other things that because of him we are all benefiting from today.

I was fortunate enough to have been given his permission to study a set of yari kata that he had attached to Nakamura ryu at some point. Though I’m not a student of Nakamura Ryu he was very happy and impressed that I would ask his permission to do this as none was really studying it anymore. He then told me that he looked forward to when I came back in 6mos. To see me perform them for him. He gave something that day that I will never forget . Thank you sensei.

Sorry for the long winded memories as there are people that are more closely related to him within Nakamura Ryu. I just felt like sharing something with all of and especially Guy that meant so much to me.

Our thought are with Guy and all of Nakamura sensei's family.

Big Tony
Senpokan Dojo
Bugei Trading Co.

Ric Flinn
13th May 2003, 23:13
I'm very sorry to hear this news. His amazing spirit will continue to be felt throughout the budo community for generations to come. My sympathies to Nakamura Sensei's family and extended family.

13th May 2003, 23:41
I'm so sorry Guy, I know how you felt about Nakamura Sensei. My sympathy and prayers also to his family and to the rest of the Nakamura and Toyama Ryu folks whose lives he influenced.

Paul Smith

Eric Montes
14th May 2003, 00:16
My deepest sympathies to you and to all the Nakamura ryu family. Nakamura Sensei was such an immovable personage in the sword world, it will be difficult to think of him being gone.


Carlos Estrella
14th May 2003, 00:38
Power Sensei,

I've sent you a note privately, but I wanted to say in public what a loss this is to our budo family. After speaking to you both in class and out, I discovered both your respect and admiration for this great man, but also how importantly vital his knowledge and experience was for the development of arts which many here practice.

The upcoming Tai Kai in Orlando will take on special meaning for many of us reading this who attend, as seeing you perform the techniques of Nakamura Ryu will have added significance with Nakamura Sensei's passing. The loss is great, but knowing that his art lives on in you is comforting to me and I am sure many others.

My condolances on your personal loss, and condolances to us all for our collective loss. Domo Arigato Gozaimashita, Nakamura Sensei.

Warmest Regards to All,


14th May 2003, 01:03
Truly a sad event.
Nakamura’s name has meaning for many across the budo world. A great influence on modern budo.

14th May 2003, 02:32
my condolences......great loss.....

14th May 2003, 03:16
So sorry to hear it, sensei. Few will contribute in the future as much as Nakamura sensei did in his lifetime.


-Will Graves

Dan Harden
14th May 2003, 03:42
Its late I just got in.
Look...I'm sorry man....just sorry.

Let him live
through you
Tommorrow morning pick up a sword-don't wait bud!!!
Take a big breath
and cut.
Celebrate his gift to you

He will smile and thank you
You have become
the future


Cady Goldfield
14th May 2003, 04:10
My condolences, Guy. At 92, Mr. Nakamura had a good, long run, a peaceful death, a surfeit of honors, and a legacy of well-trained students to perpetuate the ryu. Even so, it is the sad loss of a living treasure.

14th May 2003, 14:59
Hello Mr. Power.
As has been said already...Condolences to all those who knew him or studied under him...A huge loss...My deepest sympathy to both his own family and his extended one..

Brently Keen
14th May 2003, 17:33

My heartfelt condolences to you, and all who were touched by the life of this great swordsman, and teacher. My prayer is that God will grant comfort and peace especially to all those who were close to him at this time of loss.

I never met Nakamura sensei personally, but was fortunate to observe him on two occasions while I was living in Japan. A living legend has truly passed.

I like what Dan H. said,

"Let him live through you ...

Celebrate his gift to you..."

And make him proud. I'm sure he is anyway.


Brently Keen

Nathan Scott
14th May 2003, 21:53
Those of us in the Shinkendo & Toyama ryu families are greatly saddened by the news of Nakamura Sensei's passing. Upon being informed, Obata Sensei spent some time before O-geiko last night to explain to us his early relationship with Nakamura Sensei, and the impact Nakamura Sensei had on the Japanese post-war sword society and on his own path in swordsmanship.

The passing of Nakamura Sensei and Guy's post reminds me that an important generation of instructors has come - or almost come - to an end. In the last decade, we have lost other famous instructors like Shioda Gozo Sensei in 1994 (one of the last pre-war students of Ueshiba Morihei), Sagawa Yukiyoshi Sensei in 1998 (the last remaining student of Takeda Sokaku), Sugino Yoshio Sensei also in 1998 (acclaimed swordsman from TSKSR), Saito Morihiro Sensei in 2002 (senior uchi-deshi of Ueshiba Morihei; also passed on the same day - May 13th - exactly one year ago), and others. Many of their direct students, the next generation, are now in their late 40's or early 50's.

We all have large shoes to (try) to fill, as well as a large responsibility to preserve and, if possible, advance the teachings of "those who have lived before us". Perhaps hard, sincere training is the best way to respect the memories and contributions of such important instructors.

With condolences,

Andy Watson
15th May 2003, 11:38
Mr Powers

Sincere condolences to you and all who knew him. The messages and feelings this news has generated is a clear tribute to the effect the man had on so many peoples lives.

I am sure he would be proud to see his life's work passed on through yourself and the rest of his students.


17th May 2003, 22:23
Mr. Powers,

The Sun has set on a great teacher.
The Sun rises on his followers and students.
May we all have a long and as adventurous a life as Sensei Nakamura Taizaburo.

Most humblest regards,

17th May 2003, 22:43
This is a great loss to the budo world. Many people have been influenced by Mr. Nakamura and his teachings, and I hope everyone who has been influenced by him, carries with them what they have gained. I only hope that I, my family, and all of us can enjoy such a long and full life as Mr. Nakamura did. He will be missed. My prayers go out to him in the next world, and his family and students here in this one.

Even at 92, life is short; Keiko!

19th May 2003, 02:50
I have hesitated to post anything here, as I knew Nakamura-sensei only briefly. I hope others will take a moment to share their impressions of this man. I will not recount his history or philosophy, as that is available to those of us who do not speak Japanese primarily through the efforts of Guy Power sensei. He has had several articles published in Dragon Times and has many of sensei’s thoughts on his excellent website here (http://www.webdiva4hire.com/kenshinkan/) .

As for personal impressions, to me he was very generous, with ‘big hara’. He was passionate about the sword, yet had a great sense of humor. Two observations. First, I was observing a tai kai held at in Tsurumi, in Yokohama. Nakamura-sensei was one of those presiding over the event. Ron Zediker, a good friend and excellent swordsman, who spent over ten years training with Nakamura-sensei, was doing his form for competition. In the middle of his form, I hear laughter and a string of Japanese, with ‘Amerika-jin’ in it. Sensei was so pleased with Ron’s performance and spirit that he couldn’t resist pointing it out to the other judges and seniors.

Second, sensei’s health was up and down during the time I knew him. Sometimes he would come in to class in almost a hobble, bent over and walking with a cane. He would sit in a chair in front of class and watch practice, occasionally giving guidance or making a correction. But when it came time for the class to cut, he always personally demonstrated the cuts he wanted us to work on. As soon as he had a sword in his hand, the years would fall away, he would stand straight and tall like a completely different man. So much of his spirit came from the sword and went into the sword.

The following was recented posted, with permission, on the va_kendo@yahoo.com list. I hope the author will not mind that I repost in here, since he did give permission to post it on another public forum. It shows an important side of sensei that many of us never saw. I especially like the idea that sensei was ‘enlightened’. Thanks, Tom.

Here Tom Bolling of Seattle relates another side to Nakamura sensei--
[with his permission:]

[re: Manchuria and China period:]

Yes, there is certainly a heavy history there. Absolutely.

Perhaps one mitigating thing you could say about Nakamura Sensei is
that he was very open and candid -- and (I believe, from his own
personal conversations with me) sincerely contrite -- in contrast to
others from that period who have chosen to downplay what they did.

[re: personal recollections:]

Nakamura Sensei's visit to Seattle was in 1987...

Our Kendo Federation had no part in inviting him.... rather it was the
Cherry Blossom Festival who had engaged him as one of several artists
and crafts people coming from Japan for the Festival.

However, he specifically asked the Cherry Blossom Festival organizers
to put him in touch with whatever Kenshi there were in Seattle, and
this word was relayed to us in advance of his visit.

So we met him the first night when he arrived, and immediately took him
from the airport directly to University of Washington Kendo Club's
regularly scheduled practice. He watched our whole normal program of
Iai, Kendo Kata, and Keiko, and then offered his suggestions and
observations.... which astonished everyone with their specificity, and
their personalized insights into each of the many individuals' own

Then we repaired to pizza and beer as usual, with him included of
course. He ended up staying not in the deluxe hotel room the Cherry
Blossom people had for him, but in Murosako Sensei's own home.

He simply hung out with Kendo people for every minute of his week or
ten days in Seattle, attended every practice in as many area Dojo as
met during his stay, and taught us and encouraged us freely, including
a remarkable session with Team PNKF which was gearing up for the US

He insisted to the Festival organizers that our Kendo and Iaido demos
be adjacent to his demonstrations of his Ryu's Kata, soaked his straw
in Murosako Sensei's bathtub, and asked ME to serve as narrator/
interpreter at the microphone for each performance. Since I was
Murosako Sensei's deshi, I was also assigned to trail around after
Nakamura Sensei and make sure he had things to eat (he always asked for
either ice cream or yakisoba!) throughout the days there on the
Festival grounds, and so on.

Nakamura Sensei made no bones about having been an officer in the
Japanese Army's Kirikomeitai in Manchuria. This special "psywar" unit
simply attacked the Chinese with drawn swords, and terrorized them

Well, Nakamura Sensei's direct words to us were that he had had an
enlightenment experience, and renounced the use of swords to hurt
others. He said that's why he had named his system "Happogiri Batto-
Do" and not "Batto-Jutsu".... because he intended that it should only
be used to cultivate the "Katsujin-Ken" and never again the "Satsujin-
Ken" as in his previous, deeply mistaken, period.

Of course there is no way for me to evaluate the sincerity of a
person's reported enlightenment experience (although perhaps zen
masters might have a way of checking on it). However, Nakamura Sensei
may very well be an enlightened man. Once when we pulled up near the
door of the Seattle Center House to unload all our makiwara, etc,
Nakamura Sensei climbed down from Murosako Sensei's van right into the
face of a tiny, snarling and terrified high strung little dog who had
been locked by himself in another vehicle right next to us. The window
was open enough that the little dog could get his nose --AND TEETH--
right out there, and boy was he barking, yipping, growling, and
carrying on, defending his territory!

With a big chuckle of delight, Nakamura Sensei walked right up and
stuck his hand right in the top of the window and started scratching
and petting that dog's head! The dog instantly began sobbing and
squeaking and LICKING Nakamura Sensei's hand! I'm not making this
up... I was climbing out of the van right behind him, and saw the
whole thing!

Another time, we had a couple hours between performances, and Murosako
Sensei (who was actually quite ill as it turned out) was feeling
exhausted and wanted to take a nap in his van, so he ordered me to walk
around and do whatever Nakamura Sensei wanted for the couple hours.
Nakamura Sensei decided to stroll over to a kind of small plaza where
there were some newly-forced bulbs like daffodils and tulips in
planters (this was April in Seattle... still half-way in winter mode).

He wanted to smell the flowers and look at a lot of scruffy little
urchin-type kids with snotty noses who were horsing around with
skateboards and other "toys of mayhem." As soon as we entered the
small plaza area, several of these little kids actually came over and
started hugging Sensei's legs, rubbing their dirty faces on his
beautiful hakama, and yelling greetings at him, reaching up to pat his
big "hara." I was a nervous wreck, but Sensei merely laughed and
chuckled and proceeded to a bench where he sat down and basically held
court for two hours! Some of the kids climbed up on his lap, and lots
of ladies with toddlers brought them nearby for a kind of blessing or
something. It was the most remarkable thing I've ever seen... this
jolly man in outlandish brown robe-like attire was speaking NOT ONE
WORD OF ENGLISH! It was amazing!

Another similar incident occurred on the Sunday morning of the Team
practice. The Team was waiting for Nakamura Sensei to arrive in one of
the gyms at Kent Commons. Across the hall, all kinds ladies with
corsages were getting ready for a huge cat show. There was a big
sign..."Admission $5.00" and here came Nakamura Sensei down the hall.
As soon as he saw the cats, to heck with Kendo! With a big chuckle
this grand old man in the lovely BIG three piece wool suit headed
straight for the entrance of the show. Again, not a word of
English.... and certainly no five dollar bill!! ... only a huge smile
and marvelous chuckles. Two or three of these beautifully turned-out
ladies immediately took his arms and escorted him all over the whole
cat show, talking to him, pointing out this or that rare breed, opening
cages and putting cats in his arms! Why did they do that? Who could
they have imagined he was? And why did he spend 30 minutes petting all
kinds of cats when he could've been "enjoying" a hammer-and-tongs Team
practice?!? This guy not only had his priorities straight, but had
ladies, kids, AND CATS utterly charmed... again, all without one
single word of English.

Finally, why was he late in the first place? Mrs. Murosako had made
him WAFFLES for Sunday breakfast. He informed the Murosakos that he
had never had waffles before, and he would like some MORE! Murosako
Sensei told him "Sensei we'll be late." Nakamura Sensei looked at
Susie (Mrs. M.)... and again politely but firmly insisted that she
make some more waffles! Which of course she was absolutely delighted
to do.

Later that day, when my friend Ken Ogami heard about the waffles, he
said to me: "You know, Tom, Nakamura Sensei may very well be an
enlightened man!" I told Ken that I wouldn't be the least bit

For myself, I don't know that much about Nakamura Taizaburo's
followers, or exactly why he was more or less an outsider with the Zen
Nippon Kendo Renmei (although all the same, he was nevertheless Kyoshi
7th Dan in the ZenKenRen).

But I know that he sent me several nice letters and gifts of books
after returning home to Yokohama, and gave Murosako Sensei masters of
his instructional tapes, with permission to freely make copies for the
Kenshi he had met...

He was a very NICE Kendo sensei, whom we always remember as undoubtedly
one of our good friends.

We don't know about the "commercial" aspects of his own Dojo which some
people mumble about, but at least he certainly recognized us as people
who never charge money for sharing the art of Kendo, and shared his own
awesome level of development with us very freely and unselfishly...
exactly like any other real Kendo sensei.

I can also report that he liked Seattle beer, clams, spaghetti, pizza,
yakisoba, ice cream, and waffles.... same as any "normal" Kenshi!

I'm more than willing to be objective about everyone's good points and
bad points, because that is the "Kendo way" too... seeing things as
they are. But I must tell you that there are a hundred some kenshi in
Seattle who recall Nakamura Sensei with their heartfelt "whoever holds
a shinai is a friend of mine" affection. We know from our own direct
experience that he was certainly the genuine article as far as great
Kendo/Iaido sensei
are concerned...

robin mcclaffer
31st May 2003, 18:08
Guy, I regret not having taken one last trip to Japan to see Nakaurma before he passed. His eyes always lit up when I came to see him. In my mind I see him riding his scooter some where watching over us of course with a sword at his side. His legacy will live forever. To know him was to love him. Later, Robin

R A Sosnowski
7th June 2003, 14:31
A memorial Embu in honor of the late Nakamura-sensei was held before the evening Kendo practice at Cherrydale Volunteer Fire Department's Dance Hall in Arlington, VA, on Friday night, June 6, by various instructors and members of the Northern Virginia (NoVA) Budokai (http://www.geocities.com/nvbudokai/ ).

The Embusha included:

+ Kyudo Makiwara Sharei: William Reid with Ernie Lissabet as Kaizoe (assistant)

+ Tendo Ryu Naginata-jutsu (Shoden-level Kata): Raymond Sosnowski

+ Nakamura Ryu Batto-do: (Instructor and members of the NoVA Kenshinkai)
+++ Toyama Ryu Kata: Ernie Lissabet, Raymond Sosnowski, Joshua Badgley
+++ Seitei Gata: David Drawdy, Ernie Lissabet
+++ Nakamura Ryu Kata: David Drawdy
+++ Tameshigiri: David Drawdy

Afterwards there was a Kendo practice of Kirikaeshi and Uchi-komi Geiko lead by Jim Burns as a final preparation for the local Kendo Shiai on Saturday. Their practice was dedicated to the memory of the late Nakamura-s., who was also Nana-dan Kyoshi in Kendo.

David Drawdy had on display a Tenugui presented to him by the late Nakamura-s. which was a calligraphy of the name of the sword style by Sensei.

Special thanks go to Ernie Lissabet for making the memorial display board with pictures and write-ups of Nakamura-s. and the associated hand-out.

We also wish to thank the NoVA Kendokai for the use of the time and space for this memorial Embu.

Finally, thanks to all those who participated in the memorial Embu.

Raymond Sosnowski
Northern Virginia Budokai Executive Vice President

7th June 2003, 20:32
The tenugui was a gift from Guy Power sensei, although I believe is is Nakamura-sensei's shodo. I am grateful for the spirit shown by those who participated in the embu. Special thanks to Reid-sensei, who performed a kyudo sharei ceremony.

Several of our kendoka are competing in a tai kai today and a shinsa tomorrow. The spirit that you showed in practice can only result in success.
Best wishes,


M.W. Jones
8th June 2003, 23:36
To all those on the forum, my condolenses on the loss of Nakamura sensei. A man with vast and colorful experiences who willingly shared his knowledge with the East and the West. Cherish your memories of the times you spent with him, and remember how fragile the web created by those at the long end of the martial path can be. Train all you can. Share.

Yours in bujutsu.

23rd June 2003, 00:45
Another of the remaining samurai has returned to the source. Ipray for him and his family and wish you guys the best in carrying on his profound legacy.