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Old 05-21-2009, 03:03 AM   #76
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
Location: Hiroshima, Japan
Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 2,218
Re: O sensei and 'correct ukemi'

Hello Shaun,


Shaun Ravens wrote: View Post
Here is a rather long, but personal anecdote to illustrate my point - that being that going to the source of confusion does little to alleviate confusion. I find it quite ironic all these years later given how much of a corollary, albeit a metaphoric one there is between what occurred to me then and what is, in my opinion, occurring in our art now. I hope that someone sees this correlation or at the very least one person finds a story about autofocus cameras interesting on its own merits.

My first introduction in the mysteries of Japan and its wonderful people came through my relationship with a certain Japanese company that made autofocus cameras for which I did subcontractor work. There were two specific models on which I worked, one being the next generation of the other. The repair manuals we were given were considered bibles. The Japanese technicians who wrote them were actually dispatched to train me on how to tear down and rebuild each model. These individuals were presented as gods by their company and were treated as such by all other repair technicians.

At some point in my tenure I discovered a mistake in the manual, one that was important enough to forward it up the chain of command to the parties responsible - the all seeing all knowing, repair-bible writing technician-gods, themselves. See, in actuality, no one would have ever found the mistake because it wasn't an obvious one like 2+2=5. The manual simply stated as fact that two things (the method to set the focus between a set of lens pairs making up the primary lens group on each of these two models) was the same. I had decided to dismantle the lens group which was typically not done as the parts were replaced as a whole. However because of a back-order of lenses lasting months and months, I decided to expedite customer repairs and build the part from scratch. In doing so I discovered that two things that I was told were the same, were documented as being the same and interchanged as if they were the same, were (so sorry to have to report) not the same at all...

I quickly realized that all practicing technicians were using the documented method to calibrate the lenses before sending them back to the customer. However these two things which by all accounts were supposed to be the same were in fact not the same at all. How unfortunate it was that these cameras would eventually all come back, only to be re-repaired at no cost. You see, It really didn't matter how many people said these two things were the same. It also didn't matter how many people in practice operated as if they were the same. The simple fact is, they were and always had been different all along.

Being that I was at the time the world-wide leading repair technician in terms of the sheer number of completed repairs of these two models, I just wouldn't let it go. I continued to make a stink about it until the company was forced to send one of the repair bible toting "technician-gods" out to our shop.

He came all the way over from Japan to tell me to my face how wrong I was. He pointed at the repair bible he had written. He told me that everyone did it this way and that to do it any other way was wrong. I let him go on and on about how he wrote the manual and was the very engineer who actually designed the camera. I then smiled and said okay. I then proceeded to do it exactly as he had instructed. I then proceeded to show him that doing it that way produced an out of focus image each and every time because the two lens groups were in practical fact - different.

This was because, in spite of what he thought, what he said or what he did, that no matter who or how many people agreed with him and that no matter what materials he read out loud or pointed to to show me how right he, they and it all were, he was, wrong, plain and simple. I worked for three or four other Japanese camera companies repairing their cameras. Wouldn't you know it, I found most all the lead engineers just about the same. One could say it was part of the Japanese cultural enigma. One might also have other, less polite names for this, too...

Years later I found myself working for another Japanese camera company. I had (temporarily) been assigned to replace a Japanese QC inspector who had fallen ill. I did the quality control inspection of all cameras that had been repaired under warranty both by outside subcontractors, such as I had been, and by the in-house Japanese repair technicians who worked at the manufacturing plant along side of me. Upon settling in, I found that there was a minefield of politics when it came to rejecting a repair done by one of the in-house Japanese technicians. I was told that if there was any problem upon inspecting their repair that I was to politely put the unit back on the technicians desk for them to review my findings after which they would return it to me for re-inspection. The point of all of this is that of course they would re-repair the problem I had found and then give it back to me with a note indicating that they couldn't find anything wrong with the unit. This was so that their re-do percentage rate would remain under the required 6%, typically more than half even the best outside repair technicians who averaged a 12% to 20% re-do rate - a point they would more than casually throw into the faces of many of their non-Japanese counterparts. I found it appalling that they used an accepted method of faking these statistics, while requiring me to track the exact count of the repair-state of every single unit in terms of if it passed or failed inspection. I mean an outside subcontractor company's contract could be terminated at will based upon these statistics, resulting in the loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars and more, but in-house technicians were never reprimanded, retrained nor (gasp) terminated no matter what their actual abilities or inabilities were.

Well, having maintained a world-class repair technician status (with a record-setting 2% re-do rate after the unit was 1year back in the field) I chose to make a stink about this hypocracy. Needless to say, the company found some reason to let me go rather than implement an actual accounting method I had devised which would facilitate the training and development of their core, know-it-all, Japanese technicians... You know, the same ones who would be dispatched to all of the outside subcontractors stations to train the "non-Japanese" technicians in hand, of course. You do the math.

Try Japanese banks, or the Immigration Office, or Japanese coaches teaching foreigners Japanese baseball, or even Japanese professors of English teaching Japanese students English.

Best wishes,


Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-21-2009 at 03:10 AM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan