MASAHILO M. NAKAZONO (1918-1994)
Prepared by Jiro Nakazono for Henry Ellis Sensei
Born in Kagoshima, Japan, to a family of many generations of practitioners of Oriental Medicine (he was the 8th generation) he grew up watching and assisting his mother, Chie Fuchigami-Nakazono, in her practice.
At a very young age he began the practice of Martial Arts (his great grandfather “Kosuzume” was a regional champion of Sumo) with the Kendo at the age of 6, the Judo at the age of 12, the Karate at 19. He was a direct student of O-Sensei Morihei Ueshiba, Founder of Aikido, and he was one of the first Japanese masters to introduce Aikido in Europe.
His formal training in the Oriental Medicine (Acupuncture and Kanpo Herb Prescription) was under Dr. Juzo Motoyama, under whom he apprenticed from the age of 16 to 22.
In the 1950’s he was very close to George Sakurazawa, founder of the Macrobiotic method of dietary healing. He left for Madras, India, with him in several reprises, and directed the Oriental Medical Department in a hospital for lepers. Also in the 1950’s he studied Shugendo Healing [an ancient spiritual healing method practiced by Shugendo priests] under master Sakai, who initiated Masahilo to the worship of Jizobosatsu (a bodhisattva of healing).
In the late 1950’s to 1960 he was in Saigon, Viet Nam, and taught Judo and Aikido to the South Vietnamese Army as a combat technique instructor. He moved to France in 1961, as an official delegate of Aikikai So Hombu, and taught many students in Europe and North Africa for 11 years. The Foreign Legion in Marseilles was one of his first teaching places in France. He met two of the most famous Judo champions known to Japan in his time—Kenshiro Abbe and Haku Michigami, both of whom were in Europe at that time to teach Judo. In Judo he was ranked 5 Dan by Kodokan, and he was promoted to 6 Dan by Abbe Kenshiro Sensei.
In the early 1970’s, he received the rank of 8th Dan from Aikikai, which he declined, and left the political arena of Aikido for good. He left France and moved to the U.S., where he made Santa Fe, N.M. his new home.
In 1978, he established his school of Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture, in which the practice of Aikido was a part of the curriculum.
In 1984, he was awarded a distinctive status of “Living Treasure” by the City Of Santa Fe for his cultural and spiritual contribution to the community.
In 1985, he was presented with the award of Exceptional Achievement by the State for inspiring the passage of the Acupuncture Act by the senate.
October 8, 1994, he passed away in peace as his lifelong wife, Harue Nakazono, watched him exhale his last breath.
Prepared by Jiro Nakazono, for Henry Ellis Sensei