Tribute to Hiroaki (Rocky) Izumi Sensei

(His early Aikido years)

Rocky began his Aikido training in Saskatoon in 1978. Makoto Ohtsu Sensei, a Commerce professor, started the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) Aikido Club. Rocky was one of his early students and the first secretary of the (U of S) Aikido Club.

Hiroaki Izumi

Hiroaki Izumi

In the early eighties, Ohtsu Sensei invited Kawahara Shihan to Saskatoon to teach yearly seminars. Rocky was graded by Kawahara Shihan and became the first Aikido Shodan from Saskatoon.
Ohtsu Sensei had returned to Japan on sabbatical and Rocky became the Saskatoon instructor in his absence. I remember this, since Rocky thought it would be a good idea to practice ukemi on the hardwood floors. The dojo was on a balcony overlooking the gymnasium, a walk down the stairs, and practice rolling on the basketball court would be good for the new students. This is only one of many ideas Rocky had about what would be good for new Aikido students. With all respect, Rocky would do whatever he asked others to do.
Rocky had invited Kawahara Shihan for an extended stay at his house in Saskatoon. I remember and appreciate the week long instruction that Rocky had arranged with Kawahara Shihan.
Rocky moved to Texas in 1985 to study Business Administration. He formed the Lubbock Aikido Dojo and developed connections with Akira Tohei Shihan from Chicago.
He moved to Hong Kong in 1991 to 1994 and instructed Aikido there. In 1994 he moved to Regina, Saskatchewan and started the Regina Aikido Dojo. He hosted the largest Aikido seminar ever in Saskatchewan, to this date, with Akira Tohei Shihan and Kawahara Shihan.
From there he taught Aikido in Barbados, other Caribbean dojos, Dubai, Romania and several cities in Canada. Others are more familiar with these later travels.
Izumi Sensei was responsible for introducing Aikido to many people around the world. He was a colorful individual with many stories to tell. And he followed the advice of, Canadian Novelist, Farley Mowat, “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”.
I respect Rocky for the contribution he made to aikido in Saskatoon and in Saskatchewan. Never did a Japanese Canadian wear a cowboy hat as well as Rocky or smoke a pipe with more class. He lived life to the fullest. He enjoyed teaching new students as much as he enjoyed teaching experienced students. He was approachable to all and would provide instruction to anyone interested. These were very admirable traits. I feel fortunate to have been able to practice with Rocky and learn from him. I will remember him fondly. We are proud that Izumi Sensei started his Aikido journey in Saskatoon and shared his knowledge and joy in the art with many people around the world.
Thank you Rocky. You live on in those you taught.

Don Ragush
Saskatoon Aikikai

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