Remembering Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei

I was deeply moved to learn that there was going to be a memorial for Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei at Neath, England, this coming OCtober 2007, for he was my teacher 47 years ago.

Mutsuro Nakazono Sensei visited Vietnam in mid 1960 and stayed there until 1962. Within that period of time, he would become one of the two most meritorious persons, being responsible for the training of future instructors and the forming of a strong Aikido foundation in that country. The other one was Sensei Dang Thong Tri, the first person ever to introduce Aikido to Vietnam.

Although Nakazono Sensei’s sojourn in Vietnam was of rather short duration, he left an everlasting image in the heart of every Vietnamese Aikidoka, one of whom was me. Master Nakazono at Saigon, 1961 Back then, he often went outside the Central Dojo to teach, places such as the (ARVN) Parachutist Brigade headquarters, the office of the Metropolitan Police, the Thu-Duc Military Martial Art and Physical Education Academy, etc. I happened to be his favorite uke and received the honor of accompanying him every time he went.

Before relocating to the U.S. in 1964, Master Dang Thong Tri, the father of Viet Nam Aikido, relegated to me the responsibility to oversee the local Aikido activities. In 1967 I traveled to Hombu Dojo to further my training and was promoted to sandan. Upon returning to Vietnam I founded the Aikido Tenshinkai Federation, which I managed until 1975, when the war ended with the communist’s complete victory over South Vietnam.

I moved to the U.S. in 1986. The following year, to my great surprise I learned that Nakazono Sensei was now living in San Diego, California, where he had a medical clinic. Our reunion was an especially moving experience for me. Afterwards, he came to congratulate me and expressed Master Nakazono and Sensei Phong at great pride that he still had in me one single Vietnamese Westminster Aikikai,Orange County 1989 student who was still propagating Aikido to this day, despite all the trials and tribulations of life in a country embroiled in an incessant war. In 1988, on the first anniversary of my Westminster Aikikai Dojo, Nakazono Sensei prayed for me and my school in accordance with his traditional Shinto religion.

It is my hope that all members who were once Nakazono Sensei’s students will be able to attend the memorial in his honor. It is also my wish that the ceremony will meet with great success.

Dang Thong Phong,
Mutsuro Nakazono’s student, 1960-1962

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