Sayonara to Michael M. Ferreira Sensei

When I heard of Michael M. Ferreira’s passing, I was so sad and a bit shocked to hear the news. Ferreira Sensei shined as a beacon for martial artists to look up to. I am so grateful that I knew him and got to spend time training in martial arts with him.

Ferreira Sensei brightened up any training session. He was a very strong man. He consistently showed what a good sport he was as well as his perseverance as he worked hard in classes and seminars. I enjoyed his sense of humor. One such example included his one-liner, “My only fault is my crippling sense of humility.” (I tried to quote him word-for-word but that may be paraphrasing.)

How I Got to Know Ferreira Sensei

When Mr. Ferreira trained with us at East Valley Martial Arts, I taught most of the weekday morning classes. So I got to spend a lot of time with him in very small classes (usually one other student).

Ferreira Sensei (left) working on nunchaku

In one of our larger (evening or weekend) special training sessions which I led, I wanted to do something a little different. These were all intermediate and advanced students, and mostly teens or adults. We did an active shooter situation drill. One student stood in as the perpetrator with a fake gun, most of the students acted as the innocent-bystander-crowd victims, and a few heroes had the task of stopping the shooter.

Well, I remember this next part of the class very clearly. I assigned Ferreira Sensei to be one of the heroes. The assigned perpetrator was an older teen black belt who was taller. When I said, “Go,” Mr. Ferreira quickly rushed the teen and took him out singlehandedly, and thoroughly, pinning him to the ground. If you had blinked, you would have missed what happened.

Thankfully, the young man knew how to take a hit and how to fall and nobody got hurt. I have not had the nerve to repeat that same drill since that day, for fear of our liability. But it was a great response on Mr. Ferreira’s part, and it was to be admired.

Ferreira Sensei did One More for the Corps

Ferreira Sensei was a Vietnam Vet, one of the younger ones, in the Marine Corps. In our small daytime karate classes, we would often do 20 pushups or more. At the end of the last set Mr. Ferreira always said and did, “one more for the Corps.” I have been training personally in doing 20 push-ups and decided after hearing of Mr. Ferreira’s passing to do 21, one more for the Corps, in his honor.

Ferreira Sensei in the middle of a group kata training session.

I am very saddened to know we will not train together or joke together again in this lifetime. But I do believe that Mr. Ferreira has now rejoined his mother who passed a couple years ago.  Ferreira Sensei once told me about how he felt a connection to his ancestors when he visited Hawaii. I believe he is in a good place with those and other ancestors. I know that here, Ferreira Sensei’s loss is deeply felt by the martial arts community. That includes his scores of martial artist friends and training partners, in addition to his family and friends. The Japanese word sayonara is translated as “travel safely until we meet again.”

-Jenifer Tull-Gauger

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