Re: It Had To Be Felt #21: Shibata Ichiro: A Lean and Hungry Look
Caius Cassius Longinus would definitely not be the first person who comes to mind when I think of Ichiro Shibata, especially in view of what Caesar says about him in the speech that follows his expressed preference for the plump.
I had an interesting encounter with Mr Shibata one Friday evening at the Hombu Dojo. As far as I remember, the encounter was set up by the present Doshu. I was on one of my visits to Tokyo and the then Waka Sensei informed me that Shibata Sensei wanted me to practice with him during Doshu's class. It was an offer I could not refuse.
The class was taught by Kisshomaru Doshu, but this did not mean a great deal, for we practiced a range of waza that Shibata-san decided. We occupied a space in a corner of the dojo, into which no one else trespassed. I remember that Frank Noel was practicing right next to us and Doshu occasionally wandered over and gave me a look of bemusement, perhaps tinged with sympathy, before wandering off again.
Well, it is fair to say that I was put through the ringer and I was not allowed to throw Mr Shibata very much. He was solid, well planted, and very difficult to move. I also suspect that he was also upholding the reputations of the Hombu instructors, as Ellis suggested in his article. One small consolation I had, however, was that he could not put the 4-kyo pin on my wrists and this caused him some concern: try as he may, I refused to tap until the last moment and he also saw that I was tapping because it was time to move on to the next waza, not because he had successfully applied the pin.
My hour with Mr Shibata reminded me of a similar training session with his senior at the Hombu Dojo, K Chiba.