Re: It Had To Be Felt #21: Shibata Ichiro: A Lean and Hungry Look
Shortly after first formally starting aikido in 1992 I joined the Shibata Juku at Berkeley Aikikai and trained regularly through to sankyu (this took quite a while as I mastered in failing tests). Not very long in the larger scheme of things but still a pretty important phase of ones exposure to the art.
Very interesting bunch of folks there and quite an eclectic group. Being on the mat with many yondan and godans was quite interesting as the classes were always quite large with a very diverse range of skill sets being present. Good stuff for a eager 3-4kyu knuckle-head like me.
Mostly the seniors or participants in the shidoin/fukushidoin program were used as uke but Shibata sensei would wander about on occasion and when he spotted some interesting or spirited practice he would step in and have a 'taste'. On one day I was training with a fellow (I think his name is Ron - it's been a while) we were doing tenchi nage and I was in fine form as uke and right on the edge of my abilities. Shibata sensei seemed interested and came over to give me a go and I totally bailed so he left with that certain look of dissapointment.
I didn't mean to but for some reason (now I see it was conditioned into me) I was a bit overly compliant and basically threw myself. It probably didn't help that when going to the mat I went to slap and hit his almost healed broken foot ... I slapped pretty hard back in those days, too.
On another occasion Shibata sensei got me into a funky two armed pin and just sort of played with me while I figured out to tap with my foot - honestly I was thinking of how nice a stretch it was and if I could roll over and out of it ... not likely I decided and tapped.
I even got a chance to perform technique upon Shibata sensei. Many of those dissapointed looks ensued.
Watching Shibata sensei work with the seniors one as impressionable as myself (and many others still just up and coming) could not help being a bit scared or intimidated as the energy level was very high and the techniques quite vigorously applied. In some cases it could seem over the top and indeed some remarked as such. Still, with the juniors and the big fellers like me (6'4" 235 lbs) I never had a problem with the intensity level as it was always tapered to fit as far as I could tell. If anything Shibata sensei was taking it a bit too easy on the big doofus.
To this day my favorite technique is yonkyo (4-kyo) and pretty much nobody can make me tap thanks to the fine demonstrations of the technique applied by Shibata sensei. Undoubtedly due to Prof. Goldbury encouraging Shibata sensei to furthur research methods of application by the time I came on the scene Shibata sensei might have figured a better way to apply that technique.