Zenko N. Okimura was born in post-World War Two Japan. His foundations were set from the beginning. He was "born in the house" of three extraordinary lineages braided together. The stories of these three lineages are told here for the first time. The three lineages are his life as a Shingon Buddhist priest, as a descendant of samurai, and his rare achievement (7th degree black belt) as a Master Teacher in Aikido, the martial art of peace.
Reverend Zenko N. Okimura has been a Buddhist priest for over forty years, a descendent of generations of Shingon Buddhist temple priests. In 1980, he was ordained at the prestigious Mount Koya Monastery in the Kii Mountain Range. With a cohort of seventy-six other monks, he immersed himself in rigorous physical and mental challenges, and in a course of secret study and ritual that taught him Buddhism's wisdom dharmas and doctrines on the great matters of life and death.
Zenko N. Okimura Shihan, as a Master Teacher, holds a seventh-degree black belt in Aikido. He has practiced for over six decades and trained for many years at the Aikikai headquarters in Tokyo. Okimura's federation has member dojos throughout the United States and Europe.
Catherine Stenzel Sensei is a third-degree black belt and chief instructor in Aikido, and she is a ranked practitioner in the katana sword art, Iaido. She has been Okimura Shihan's student since 1999. She began Aikido practice in 1990 with Akira Tohei Shihan in Chicago. She has directed Young People's Aikido Programs and started an Aikido dojo under Okimura Shihan's federation. She has practiced Buddhism for over thirty years in the Theravadan and Soto Zen traditions. Stenzel Sensei lives with her husband and two dogs, in a small log cabin in far Northwestern Minnesota in an old-growth forest.
Stenzel's participation in the martial arts world, her combined academic achievements, her wide range of experience, and most of all her lifelong devotion to writing, plus her accomplishments in the corporate world, and her entrepreneurial spirit in later life make her the ideal writer to bring Zenko N. Okimura, his teachings, and his tales to life in Tears for the Samurai: Drawing the Sword of Centuries.
Catherine Stenzel lives in a log cabin in Beltrami Island Forest in far Northern Minnesota. She has published several books with John Wiley & Sons. Her academic credentials include MST, MBA, and CPA from the University of Wisconsin and the University of San Diego. She is a practicing Buddhist in the Theravada tradition. Stenzel Sensei's martial arts experience includes a third degree black belt in Aikido; she is ranked in Iaido, a Japanese long-sword art. She has been an Aikido chief instructor for fifteen years. Her teacher is Rev. Zenko N. Okimura Shihan with whom she has studied and practiced for over twenty years. He is a seventh-degree black belt in Aikido, a Shingon Buddhist priest, and a samurai descendant. Stenzel and Okimura are coauthors of "Tears for the Samurai: Drawing the Sword of Centuries"