Re: Your "big break" in Aikido
To answer Mr. Beebe's question----Working with Tomiki Shihan was watching poetry in motion. He was about 6'4" tall and no nonsense. Before class and after class he was very congenial. On the mat was all business and he was a perfectionist. If your toenail wasn't right, he'd correct you. He was extremely smooth in all his movements and the smoothness came from the way he'd move his hips. His tenkan, irimi and tenkai were all with the hips but not a forceful move. He was very fluid and you could see that in his circular movements. He was a ballroom dancer and used the ballroom steps in his movements. He never used, to my recollection, any predetermined stance. It was all natural but at all times your hands were in front between you and your "enemy". That to him was a barrier the "enemy" had to cross to get to you. As he tried to get to you, you should already be around him, or to his side etc effecting your technique. He was also an 8th dan in judo so we went to the mat also. He was untouchable on the ground and we were drilled on many ways to take someone down and to finish him/her on the mat (or ground). His favorite tachi waza was Irimi Nage and Juji Nage. He would throw very hard (except beginners of course) but no one ever had any fear because he would always throw correctly. Fabulous instructor.
Hideo Ohba Shihan and Tomiki Shihan were life long friends. 2 peas in a pod so to speak. Ohba Shihan had great movements in his hips too but he stressed hand movement a little more as he would demonstrate with Ikkyo, yonkyo etc. He would love to get behind people and do chokes like Hadaka Jime (naked Choke) and Kata ha jime. Ohba shihan also had judo training. When Tomiki shihan died in December, 1979, Ohba shihan took over. He was also a perfectionist. Neither shihan would go for anyone if they didn't throw correctly. If you threw them, it's because you threw them. They just didn't go because they were "nice". They're feeling was that to see if you were doing a technique correctly, you would have to do it to them so they could "feel" it.
I am glad I had the opportunity wioth both of them and they certainly knew how to teach.
Shodokan Aikido (Tomiki Aikido is what I will always call it) was formed because Tomiki Shihan wanted a "test" to see if techniques worked. That's why he "invented" tournaments so the waza could be applied in a real like situation. O-sensei didn't like it because he thought Tomiki shihan was turning Aikido into a sport and not a martial art so that's where the split was. Tomiki aikido is off the beaten path since we also still do matwork (shimi waza and kansetsu waza), reversals and counters, etc.
I hope that answers your question(s) and probably opened the oor to many others.