O'Sensei Takahashi was born in the Meiji period in the year 1900 at Hiroshima Prefecture, which is part of the Chūgoku region situated in the western part of Japan, we knew little about his family, although he did mention that he had never married and his father, mother and older sister, had perished during the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945.

We can only respectfully translate his personal life’s journey by what he shared with us over past decades. He began his kenjutsu training at the age of 15 years becoming a disciple of Katori Shinto Ryu, a most comprehensive art and this was the foundation in his budo studies. He then began his training in Ryukyu Shuri-Te in 1920 under Kentsu Yabu from Okinawa; there are no records how long Takahashi trained under Yabu Sensei, however this would be his Ryukyu inauguration.

His second Ryukyu teacher was Chibana Chōshin at the Shuri Dojo. After training with Chibana Chōshin for several years Takahashi made his way back to the land of his birth; Japan, although he always mentioned that Okinawa was his “second homeland.” When arriving back on the mainland he visited his friend Mochizuki Minoru Sensei, since they had both shared and trained in Katori Shinto Ryu in the early days.

After the end of the Second World War, Japan and its people would now face allied occupation from 1945 to 1952, several of the original Dojo's of budo, had been destroyed, and many surviving teachers went underground to teach small groups of students, away from public view.

In the year 1953, one year after the founding of the Nippon Seibukan by Suzuki Masafumi Sensei in Kyoto, O'Sensei Takahashi founded his own organization and here he began teaching to small groups of selected senior students, where he concentrated teaching and emphasizing on the traditional ideology of the spirituality of Koryū bujutsu (old style martial arts).

O'Sensei Takahashi Kentsu image

O'Sensei Takahashi Kentsu

During the years from 1958, O'Sensei began travelling outside of mainland Japan and Okinawa, his travels would take him to China, Tibet and down through Italy, Belgium and across to England, from England he ventured southward to New Zealand.

It would be late in 1962 whilst in New Zealand, he would embark on teaching his New Zealand student, Garry O’Connor, and this would be the start of a long association and friendship. Just like the cultural meaning of his family name “Takahashi” meaning “High Bridge,” he joined and shared with others his wealth of knowledge. One of his most notable students was Ito Ichirou Sensei (1947 – 2006) who achieved the senior Shihan level of 8th Dan – Hachi Dan under O'Sensei Takahashi.

O'Sensei would return to Japan where he would continue teaching. He became unwell in 1990 and this would situate the decline in his well-being for the next approaching three and a half years. Ito Ichirou Shihan mentioned that O'Sensei was suffering from cancer of the liver.

O'Sensei Takahashi Kentsu passed away in 1994. He was of the Shinto faith and was cremated. I asked him once; "excuse me Sensei, may I ask what religion are you of"?, his reply was; “what religion would you want me to be?”. His legacy lives on in those he taught. Ito Ichirou Shihan believed the ashes of O'Sensei were laid to rest in one of the Shinto Temples in the Chūgoku region. May your spirit be at rest Sensei, 'domo arigato' for what you have shared with us, your wisdom shared will live in us all.

NOTE: The term O'Sensei refers to the senior sensei in an organization, and is also commonly used to refer to certain founders of martial arts schools. The character for "O" (in O'Sensei) is another pronunciation for the character meaning "Okina" which means "old man," or "venerable."

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Information provided by Garry O'Connor Hanshi 10th dan

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