I often screw up the process of articulating what i am trying to say. it certainly does look like I was criticizing the type of practice Joe was describing, but ultimately I have not trained with Chiba Sensei and I don't know much about what he was describing. I suspect his characterization of that type of training was tilted towards his own badassness.
But still: once again, if you are training how to use a tsuba in some way, then you need a tsuba. I am talking about techniques where you use the tsuba to deflect or catch the striking sword's blade, perhaps as a means of taking them off balance and throwing them or something like that.
However, I do think there is something wrong with your training if you are relying on your bokken's tsuba to protect your hands from sloppy or imprecise technique that is not supposed to involve the tsuba.
A general example is where your maai is too small, or your cut is too shallow, and somebody's fingers get tapped. Somebody screwed something up, so do you want to ignore the mistake, or fix it? If you go "whatever!" and keep hacking away at each other, I think that really is lazy.
The description of Chiba Sensei's kiri otoshi is interesting because it doesn't sound like you are supposed to strike your partner on the tsuba, you are trying to hit their wrist. So in this case, it sounds like you want the tsuba there so you learn how to hit the wrist instead. But Joe implied that the tsuba prevents your hand from getting injured by the technique, which is confusing.
If you want to learn how to hit someone's wrist, kote seem to be indicated. But they are not really protective enough for use with bokken.
Its difficult to put into written form what kiri otoshi is within the ryu of Chiba Sensei.I can assure you that in no way is it trying to be a bad ass.In fact care and attention is the key factor .However if one
decides by mutual consent to raise the level of the game[usually experienced guys do this] as a safety precaution tsuba are used.We also use a padded shinai which does the same job as a bokuto ,but needless to say does not cause so much potential for
sustaining a hit on the knuckle.If you look carefully at Chiba Sensei you will note he cuts well down on the hilt of ukes bokuto .Watch the vid when he does this slowly.You will see he takes ukes wrist area.By using a hip twist ,hamni , full extension and with a forward motion in the cut Tori in effect controls uke.