In Memory of Ahti Kaend
Our mentor Ahti Kaend left us on August 7, 2001. He will live on in our hearts and in
our practice. He was a great kareteka, and he earned worldwide respect of all that
took the time to listen to him and understand him. His practice was as meticulous and
as sharp as he kept his dojo and everything else in his life, and he demanded that
same level of excellence from those that trained with him. A visit to Ahti and Olga’s
dojo in Garden Grove is an experience in itself, and attendance in a class with Ahti’s
attention to detail was unforgettable. Ahti had a way of stimulating everyone’s
attention to detail with a technique that was masterful. At times he seemed hard and
unreasonable, but this was an attribute that lead to his success as a great sensei.
Everyone that really listened with an open mind was led to success. I remember a time
when Ahti was critiquing my Sanchin Kata. After each performance he would pick a
point for me to pay attention to and say, “do it again.” I did, at least 15 times. He
demanded maximum effort, and I was beat, but I remembered a lot, and it was one of
my most memorable experiences with him. Ahti traveled for training in Okinawa often.
He felt that in order to really teach authentic Uechi-Ryu, he needed to maintain close
contact with the roots of the system, and he passed on his Okinawa training to us.
Training in Ahti’s dojo is like a trip to Okinawa.
Ahti had several other pursuits. He was a member of the Pantera Club for 20 plus
years. He had a beautiful Pantera that he kept as neat and clean as he did the dojo. It
wasn’t just something to drive around in on weekends. Ahti often entered races at the
Riverside Race Track. He competed with some of the best. He used to enjoy showing
videos from inside the car during a race.
Ahti enjoyed competition, and he had an array of karate trophies. With these, he also
displayed an equally impressive collection of table tennis trophies. I had occasion to
watch Ahti play table tennis a few times in the 1970’s. He played table tennis the same
way he practiced karate. He was relaxed and always on target. When a ball came his
way, it always went back, and usually was difficult to get to. He wasn’t a slam-bang
type of player. He made it look remarkably simple. No matter what his opponent would
do, or how fast they hit that ball, it always got back. Ahti seldom missed.
We will always miss Ahti, but be assured his name will be spoken often, and his
examples and advice will live on in the practice of all of his students and in their
students as well.