Milwaukee Aikido Club

A Traditional Martial Arts Dojo


Norio “Mike” Mamura 6th Dan, Shidoin

Mamura Sensei was born on June 1, 1918, in Koolau, Kauai, Hawaii. His father, Tokutaro and mother, Owari, had moved to Hawaii from Kumamoto, Japan, prior to his birth.

While Mamura Sensei had many interests including raising orchids and gardening, his greatest passion and joy was that for aikido. He was first introduced to aikido in Hawaii by his family. In 1965, he began studying aikido in Chicago, Illinois. In 1967, he became one of the founders of the Milwaukee Aikido Club Inc. where he trained with C. Sasaki, Sensei, Y. Hirata Sensei, C. Takeguchi, Sensei, L. Takahashi, Sensei, K. Tohei, Sensei and A. Tohei, Sensei. His life was dedicated to the study of aikido and he took every opportunity he could to learn from others and continue to grow in his aikido practice.

Mamura Sensei was the Chief Instructor of the Milwaukee Aikido Club Inc. He held the rank of 6th dan and was honored to be appointed to the teaching position of Shidoin in the Midwest Aikido Federation of the United States Aikido Federation.

Mamura Sensei was beloved by many Aikidoists throughout the years. He was known to have a profound influence on both the practice and lives of many of his students. He taught his students to use aikido practice as a means to strive to become better persons. With this philosophy, he had a far reaching extended family of practitioners who would "stop in to catch a class" with him from across the country.

In Aikido Today magazine (February 2004) Harry Fu of Hawaii said, “...Norio Mamura Sensei said, ‘It is far more important what sort of character you possess than how strong and fast your Aikido techniques may be’”.

Always a Sensei

The following is a tribute to Mamura Sensei written by one of his students.

Sensei Norio Mamura did more than teach the principles of Aikido he embodied them. He had a sense of caring that one rarely encountered, about his students, fellow Aikidoka, and everyone he met. No person came into the dojo during one of his classes without Sensei Mamura taking time to talk with them. He enjoyed meeting new people and prospective students.

His caring for his students was boundless. He made each of his students feel special and he accepted them for themselves. He welcomed their uniqueness to the dojo with open arms, and helped his students use their talents and passions to receive the most from Aikido. He only expected that you be true to yourself and try "to be better than you were last month, last week, yesterday or even the last second."

His passion for teaching and learning Aikido never stopped. He often viewed tapes of instructors from all over the world; always looking for another perspective on Aikido, another new technique, and another way to learn.

To have known Sensei Mamura was to be truly blessed. To feel his love and caring for you was a feeling too great for words. He wholeheartedly believed that Aikido was the path to peace within oneself and the world in which we live.

The students of the Milwaukee Aikido Club Inc. and many throughout the Aikido world celebrate the chance to have known such a great man, to have been touched by greatness, and to have known his love.

Sensei Mamura we love you!

Aikido’s artful instructor by Priscilla Ahlgren

This article appeared in the Milwaukee Journal’s We the People section on 01/31/88.

Twenty-three years ago, a 12-year-old nephew brought aikido into Norio Mamura’s life in an unforgettable way, Mamura, now 69, still gets red-faced thinking about it.

“He told me, “Uncle, bend my arm,”” remembers Mamura, the son of Japanese parents who immigrated to Hawaii. “Much to my embarrassment, I was using a lot of effort and I couldn’t do it.”

That was enough of a catalyst. Today, despite a heart condition, hearing loss and diabetes, Mamura rates as Mr. Aikido among his colleagues and students. He holds a black belt in this, one of the oldest of the Japanese martial arts.

It’s based on the concept of harmonizing one’s mind, body and spirit.

“You train your body to be a good conductor of ki, the living energy that surrounds us,” says Mamura, a grandfather whose second hobby is a gentler calling: raising orchids.

On a recent Saturday at the non-profit Milwaukee Aikido Club on W. Center St., where Mamura serves as chief instructor, he demonstrated a series of aikido’s precisely choreographed, flowing movements. Despite its almost dancelike quality, each routine ended with Mamura effortlessly throwing his student opponent to the floor by exerting a subtle but effective twit of an arm or wrist.

“The idea is to turn your attacker’s movement and power against him,” says Mamura, a trim, distinguished looking man with an outward calm that belies his physical capabilities.

“You get maximum results with minimum effort,” he says.

Aikido is one of the most difficult of the martial arts to master, Mamura says, but as far as he’s concerned, that’s part of its appeal.

“Aikido is not a destination; it’s a journey,” he says. “The learning never stops. You have to have a very open mind...or, as we say in Japan, you must never have your teacup completely filled.”