Ota Sensei at Keishicho - 1980
Shortly after this photo was taken,
Ota Sensei lead the practice
through one hour of Kakari-geiko
followed by 45 minutes of
Kirikaishi - non-stop.
Ota Tadanori Sensei is Mushinkan dojo's mentor.  Ota Sensei
first came to the United States in March 1985.  The original
intent of his visit was to prepare Uchida Sensei for the 6th
World Kendo Championship in Paris, France.  However,
Uchida Sensei resigned his position on the U.S. team for
personal reasons and, instead, used Ota Sensei's visit to establish
kendo in Colorado Springs.

As a child, Ota Sensei was physically weak and very susceptible
to illness.  His father started him in kendo believing kendo
would help strengthen his son.

Ota Sensei's first teacher was Fukuoka Akira, a disciple of
Takano Sasaburo Sensei.  Fukuoka Sensei was a very nurturing
teacher with a gifted insight that allowed him to connect with
each student's character and abilities.  Under the instruction of
such a rare teacher, the young Ota was always motivated and
eager to learn more.  Fukoka Sensei always stressed the basics
and Ota Sensei worked day and night to try and achieve
perfection.  Before bed, Ota Sensei would practice his suburi,
often falling asleep with his bokkuto still secure in his grasp.
Ota Sensei's abilities eventually earned him a rare appointment to
the Keishicho Tokuren.  At first, Ota Sensei found his skills less
than those of his new teammates.  However, it was Matsuda
Teinosuke who recognized Ota's potential form his solid grasp of
the kendo fundamentals.  Under Matusda's tutelage, Ota Sensei
quickly advanced and earned his spot on the Keishicho team.

Times were difficult during Ota Sensei's early years at
Keishicho.  A police officer's pay was marginal and many of the
kendo team members had to share cramped living quarters.  The
meals provided at the police department were very basic in both
substance and portion; after a long workout, it just wasn't
enough.  "Back then, we weren't paid enough to go out and eat
like they do today", Ota Sensei explained.  To keep their health
and energy, the team members would pool their money and buy
groceries to bring back to the dojo.  There, they would cook for
themselves.  It was through this type of experience that the
group became a very close family.  In later years when Ota
Sensei was made coach of the Keishicho team, he saw this
closeness within the team start to disappear, as the team
members didn't spend much time together beyond practice.  To
bring back the close camaraderie he shared with his teammates,
Ota Sensei started preparing a meal for the team one day a week
at the dojo.  This revived the feeling of family among the
Keishicho members and institutionalized the custom of a periodic
team prepared meal.
Fukuoka sensei lived long enough
to see Ota Sensei achieve the kendo
rank of Hachi-dan, Hanshi - the
only student of Fukuoka sensei to
do so.  Fukoka sensei passed away
at the age of 95.
Ota Sensei is very fond of cooking
- an essential survival skill in his
early days at Keishicho, he has
since turned it  into a favorite
pastime.
Ota Sensei came to Colorado in 1985 to help Uchida Sensei start
kendo at the United States Air Force Academy, the program that
would eventually become the Mushinkan Kendo Dojo.  After his
stay in Colorado, he went to California where he helped train the
US national team for the world competition in Paris, France.  Ota
Sensei was made an honorary U.S. team coach and traveled with
the US delegation to Paris.

Although numerous teachers have visited the United States
before, Ota Sensei was the first instructor from Japan officially
invited and hosted by the U.S. kendo federation.  This visit
opened the lines of communication between the US and Japan
kendo federations, and propelled both organizations into a
unprecedented period of progress.  Although his modesty would
keep him form accepting any recognition, the skill level of
American kendo that has been achieved in recent years is a direct
influence of Ota Sensei's refined character and unmatched
prowess.
The late Nakamura
Takeshi Sensei (pictured
above) and Ota Sensei are
best recognized from the
kendo kata video
produced by the All
Japan Kendo Federation.  
To this day, the video
remains as the model for
kata training
March 1985
April 2001
Uchida Sensei's children consider Ota Sensei to be their third grandfather.  When Jennifer Uchida was 3
years old, she couldn't pronounce "Ota" so she called him "Oh Sensei."  The nickname has been used in
the Uchida household ever since.  The first photo of Uchida Sensei; Ota Sensei; and Uchida Sensei's
daughter, Jennifer, was taken in March 1985.  The second photo was taken 16 years later in April 2001.
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