At a farewell dinner hosted by the Sugimura ‘ohana, the evening concluded with a wonderfully insightful, philosophical discussion about the Grand Master’s thoughts on Iaijutsu, the school’s history, in-depth analysis of the meaning of words we utilize, and the importance of world peace through swordsmanship.
However, the evening was not without its more lighthearted moments. Prior to (a huge) dinner (of steak, giant shrimp, salad and more), local pupus were bountiful. Sekiguchi–who eats sparingly (mostly noodles, fruit and tea… and little at that)–ate Maui potato chips with chopsticks; delicately, one by one, with long pauses between each bite.
Robert “Bob Sensei” Montgomery told me of their (rare) breakfast that morning at Ruby’s at the Queen Kaahumanu Shopping Center (read more about Ruby’s in this year’s Taste of Maui edition, and more still with this review by Starr Begley), where Sekiguchi received a little recognition, thanks to this week’s edition:
“We had an adventure this morning! We’d gone to Ruby’s for breakfast and when we went to pay, there was a big stack of the papers there. The girl looked [at the photo], then looked at Sekiguchi… You could hear her [excitement] from across the restaurant!”
Back to the deep discussion, round-table style, over green tea: Everyone was enraptured by his voice (whether we understood him or not), and listened attentively to Eddie Maiwa’s translations–heartfelt and done with great effort. But, the hour grew late, and at the most appropriate lull, Sekiguchi rose and began the process of goodbyes.
However, gift-exchanging/presentations still needed to be made, and many fine items were exchanged (a koa clock, an exquisite wooden paddle, photographs of his stay, books on Hawaiian warfare, fine Hawaiian jewelry; plus he presented lovely fabric bags to the female students, the drawstring closures adorned with stylized fabric petals, that can be worn tied to the obi).
Maiwa, a dedicated student, our essential translator, and Sekiguchi’s scuba instructor, presented the Grand Master with a diving mask and photos taken underwater during his weekend scuba excursion (this was the first time Sekiguchi had ever swam in the ocean, and he is undoubtedly the first Grand Master to ever have scuba dived), which he posed with jovially–showing that this serious swordsman has a soft side.