Dojo:   Amity Harbor   Yin yang dojo b   Mt. Kisco

In Memoriam - A Tribute to Kenneth Hutchinson

by Maryellen Lo Bosco

A Tribute to Kenneth Hutchinson, 1947-2003

Where shall I turn now
When I am in need of a friend?
At Takasago,
even aging stately pines
cannot replace lost friends.

—Fujiwara Okikaze

Kenneth (a.k.a. Ken and Kenny) Hutchinson trained with us at the Takahashi Karate Dojo, Amityville, for some eleven years and attained the rank of nidan—second degree black belt. We knew him as the not-so-young karateka who nonetheless had the boundless energy and the lean, strong body of a man in his 20s. Even better, he was the bright-eyed guy who always came bouncing into the dojo with a radiant smile on his face that matched his truly sunny disposition. If Kenny had problems, he never brought them into the dojo. Moreover, he was always ready to help out anyone struggling with a move or a kata. Not all of us knew him well, but those who counted him as a special friend remember very particular things:

Kenny was a grown man with a boy’s heart—he had a young person’s openness to the world that sometimes made the more jaded among us step back and shake our heads. But those close to him would say they wanted to live in “Kenny’s world,” a place somewhere up in the clouds where the possibilities were limitless.

Kenny’s heart was not only young; it was huge. He always had his hand open to give. Dave remembers when his car broke down and he took it to Ken’s house; Ken immediately jacked the car up and went to work for hours until it was fixed. If anything needed to be done around the dojo—cleaning, painting, refurbishing —Kenny was one of the first to volunteer. During practice, he was precise about the mechanics of movement and worked to perfect not only himself, but others. At the same time, he always encouraged fellow students. But his generosity didn’t stop there; Kenny opened his home to those in need. Dave and Myra remember how he put up a young daredevil from Texas. Ken began teaching him how to fly, and the daredevil reciprocated by taking Kenny on a number of physical escapades. True to form, he did his best to keep up and mostly did. Another time Ken put up a female friend from Colombia. Ken would help out anyone at any time, Aimee remembers. He never criticized anybody, Myra remembers; he never talked behind anyone’s back. If he got hurt at the dojo, he made light of it. If someone teased him, he took it in stride. He could laugh at himself, but he never made anyone feel small.

Kenny was both exuberant and serious. Matt took flying lessons with him and saw that other facet: focused, professional, and in control. He was an excellent pilot and instructor. On July 4th, Kenny took Matt up over Jones Beach to watch the fireworks. Flying was Ken’s great passion, but he also loved karate. Earlier in his training life, he was part of a special group of karatekas who dubbed themselves the “purple people eaters” (after they had advanced to purple belt). This crew (all of them younger than Ken) went through a period of macho marathon Saturdays: two karate classes; eat lunch; play basketball; take a third fighting class; and sometimes go running. Back at the dojo, Kenny produced his own handmade bow. He would closely question Sensei about some obscure aspect of karate movement or he’d work on his stretches before class, often making odd sounds that would make us laugh. His persistence paid off, though, as he became more flexible and skilled.

Kenny was smart and quirky. He was funny, and he was fun to be around. Myra and Dave remember winter training at the beach in the middle of February: everyone in their gis punching and kicking in the freezing surf. At the end, everyone posed for a picture in their soaking uniforms. Except Kenny. He whipped off his gi and posed atop a snow mound in his Speedos. Kenny was fond of baseball caps, and he would invariably leave his hats behind in various places in the dojo. He also loved garlic—lots of it, on his Italian food. Sometimes his friends came close to ejecting him from the dojo when he’d come to train right after eating a vampire-proof lunch or dinner. He made the dojo fun, Aimee says, and if you were in a bad mood, he would pick you up.

Kenny liked anything that included movement: snowboarding, roller blading, motorcycle riding, boating, flying—you name it. He was an adventurer who could be talked into dabbling in any new experience, whether it be a new extreme sport, a new exotic food, or a new idea. If he broke or injured something, he would still show up for class. Recently he had undergone major surgery, but it wasn’t long before he was back training. Most of all, Ken lived by the dojo kun: seek perfection of character; be faithful; endeavor; respect others; refrain from violent behavior.

Today we sadly say farewell to our friend and fellow karateka. We will remember your generous nature, your open attitude toward life, your sense of humor, and your dedication to karate. Your sunshine smile lives on in our hearts.

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