Thursday, 30 August 2012

Sokuichi Gibu Sensei (1941 - 2012)

Sokuichi Gibu sensei, Dec 1941 -  Aug 2012
It is with enormous sadness, and some degree of shock, that I announce the passing of Sokuichi Gibu sensei earlier this week. I'm unaware of all the details at the moment, I only know he died at home on the afternoon of Tuesday last (28th August). I am not aware of any illness or medical condition that may have lead to his untimely death.

I met Gibu sensei back in March 2011, and he left an indelible mark in my mind, for in him I recognized all the hallmarks of a sensei. A person who had transcended the role of mere instructor or teacher, and had become a role model for those wishing to understand the true nature and real value of studying karatedo: the way of karate.

We talked, drank coffee, and ate cake; I asked him many questions and he offered me his opinions thoughtfully, and with grace and humility. I'd met great karate men before, and knew from the opening moments with Gibu sensei, in the foyer of the Pacific Hotel, that I was meeting another. His warm smile and generous heart told me all I needed to know about his karate...but I asked him questions anyway. 

Gibu sensei kindly posing for a photo with Miguel Da Luz and me - Naha, 2011
The world of Shorin-ryu in Okinawa, and abroad, has been hit hard this year, with the loss of two senior sensei. But, when men such as Gibu sensei pass away, it is not only their students who suffer a sense of loss, for authentic karate is also rendered that little bit weaker. It takes time for karate to mature, it can not be rushed; so, it is a cruel irony indeed that has sensei like Sokuichi Gibu leave us when they are most needed.

During our meeting, after the interview I was conducting for Blitz magazine was over, Gibu sensei presented me with a couple of  gifts. I in return, could only offer him a presentation pen and a copy of my book on Hojo-Undo. He asked me to sign the book, and then accepted my gifts with such enthusiasm as to make me feel a little embarrassed; and later, when photos were taken, he insisted on holding the book. He didn't have to do that, but it was a measure of the man's big heart that he was aware enough of the moment to make me feel good about the gift I'd given him.

The karate world is all the poorer for the passing of Gibu sensei, and I will regret forever not having the opportunity to spend more time in his company. To all Gibu sensei's family, students, and friends, I offer my heart felt condolences for your loss.