Rick Beal

Rick Beal began training in Japanese Budo at a young age in 1966. But his real revelation came in the early 80’s with his sword teacher Hirotaka Okubo (Okubo-sensei). Okubo-sensei had studied kyudo with Kosaka-sensei and Mishima-sensei in Los Angeles; so Okubo-sensei incorporated the basic movements of kyudo into his warm up exercises for the sword classes. When asked why, Okubo-sensei replied, “If you lay down your sword and practice kyudo for ten years, then pick up the sword again, your sword will also be ten years better. No other martial art will do that, only kyudo.”

Prior to meeting Okubo-sensei, Rick had owned and operated a small karate/kobudo school. Okubo-sensei and insisted that if Rick wanted to train with him, he must close his school. Rick closed the school and traveled around the area to find places for each of his senior students to train. One of those students (one of Rick’s top students) couldn’t find any other instructor he wanted to train with, or any other art that he would rather study. So Rick took him to meet Okubo-sensei in hopes that they could train together. The student had no interest in the sword, and really didn’t bond with Okubo-sensei; but upon seeing the kyudo warm up he exclaimed, “What is that? I want to do that!”

Okubo-sensei wrote a letter of introduction for the young man to Mishima-sensei and sent him to the Higashi Hongwanji temple to begin kyudo. Being one of Rick’s previous karate students, he asked Rick to come along for moral support.

Rick came and the two of them were told to sit down and watch (it was customary at that time in the class to have prospective students watch for three classes before they could begin instruction). But for some reason, Mishima-sensei approached them and asked them to join the other beginning students that he was teaching to walk. Although Rick’s friend stood up immediately, Rick explained that he had no interest in training in kyudo, but he had only come to offer support to his friend. Mishima-sensei insisted that Rick should also train, but Rick demurred, saying that he did not want to waste the-sensei’s time and that he would only be there for one day and then be gone. Mishima-sensei said, “One day of practice is one day of practice.” Rick practiced with the group that day, and has practiced with them ever since.