Iwata Norikazu Sensei
Iwata Norikazu Sensei was born in Kagawa Ken on 16th September 1913 and begun learning kendo in 1927 at high school. In 1933 he joined the Japanese Army in Manchuria and became a military policeman in 1935. He went on to teach the military police starting in 1936 and ending in 1945 when he became a prisoner of war in Russia. He returned to Japan in 1949.
Iwata Sensei continued studying kendo upon returning to Japan and wanted to learn Iaido too. He began studying Iaido under Koda Morio Sensei. Koda Sensei gave permission to Iwata Sensei to study Iai under the Kochi Senseis but they continued to practice Iai together.
Iwata Sensei attended the Kyoto Taikai in 1957 and chanced to meet Fukui Harumasa Sensei (19th MJER Soke), Yamamoto Takuji Sensei and Taoka Tsutau on the way home. Soon after this meeting Iwata Sensei asked Yamamoto Takuji Sensei to teach him and began visiting Kochi in August 1957 at age 43. He studied at Kochi for 5 and a half years and then studied under Mori Shigeki Sensei. Mori Sensei began learning from Oe Masamichi when he was a high school student right up until Oe Sensei passed away in 1927. Iwata Sensei studied under Mori Sensei until he passed away in 1988.
Iwata Sensei says that the initial teaching he received was very strict with the Kochi Senseis demonstrating waza and then Iwata Sensei imitating them. Again and again they would demonstrate good waza and Iwata Sensei would follow. Fuki Harumasa Sensei, Taoka Tsutau Sensei and Shimazaki Teruyuki San would be present at these lessons and, while Yamaoto Takuji Sensei was taking a break, they would call Iwata Sensei aside and give him additional lessons.
After learning in Kochi Iwata Sensei begun visiting Mori Shigeki Sensei in Matsuyama for guidance and comments on his Iaido. Mori Shigeki Sensei respected Yamamoto Takuji Sensei's teachings. Iwata Sensei said that he did not correct his Iaido but added his Iaido to his own. He told Iwata Sensei: "You have learnt the most dynamic Tosa (Kochi) gihou (technique). You have attained the dynamic Iaido sufficiently well. However, Oe Sensei's Iaido was half dynamic and half graceful."
Mori Shigeki Sensei learnt from Oe Sensei for 20 years and Yamamoto Takuji Sensei learnt from Oe Sensei for the last 6 years so both had direct teaching from him. Iwata Sensei received Menkyo Kaiden from Yamamoto Takuji Sensei and Mori Shigeki Sensei. He also holds the Kyoshi Nanadan rank in kendo. He was awarded Hachidan in 1976 and Hanshi status in 1983 as specified by the Zen Nippon Kendo Renmei.
Sadly Iwata Sensei passed away on 1st January 2011. It was very important to Iwata Sensei that the old techniques are retained and passed on to future generations. This continues through his many students in Japan and throughout the world. Iwata Sensei was a great teacher, practitioner and scholar of Iai and published many articles and several books about Iai.