With all due respect to several writers who have posted follow up to some of the long essays, I agree with Mark Murray.
The validity of the follow up writer's experience is not the crux of the issue, it is that what they have chosen to write is lacking in detail for us as readers to have a sense of "what it was like."
I cannot speak for the others but putting it simply it was at times gruelling.My body was always aching after a session with Chiba Sensei.Sensei pushed you to your limit.The atmosphere was electric.I remember a Summer School when Chiba Sensei arrived late after the opening of the class .I felt his presence before I saw him,when he entered the dojo.Another time was at the opening of a dojo ceremony..Chiba Sensei in his capacity as a Zen monk chanted out sutras .He then did basic Kihon waza.Later after the ceremony he indicated he had called down the spirit of O Sensei.All Ii can say is this the atmosphere in the dojo was electric.
There was always a sense of danger when you acted as Uke for Chiba Sensei.You had to be really up for it.At times when I made any movement to establish contact with him,Chiba Sensei seemed to disappear and the next thing I knew i was biting the dust or being pinned down.
Fortunately I was much younger then , and I was always anxious to practice with him.In sitting Kokyu Ho for example I could not budge him.His movements in the 70s were like a panther, fast and he could cover a considerable distance on his knees quicker than anybody I have ever seen.
Weekend courses were hard, very little sleep, no hotel beds like today.I slept in hedges, tatami and outside the Chiswick dojo in the rain, trying to sleep inside a paper sack.Driving down to overnight to London ,one time,with my training partner, fell asleep, I also fell asleep at the wheel .I was rudely awakened by my car bouncing off the central road barrier.We were nearly at our destination.Tiredness and night driving got to us.That was before the Aikido session even started.This incident was a log time ago.Nowadays the guys of today get hotels, showers, big dinners.Chiba Sensei and his wife had a hard time , living in rented flats etc.While in Sunderland he barely managed to pay the rent for his room at the Y.M.C.A. As Henry Ellis said the it was hard times for Sensei..To this day Chiba Sensei hates the place.He was also possibly the only Japanese person in Sunderland at the time.Things improved when he moved to London.The dojo in Earls Court was always lively,During this period Chiba Sensei invited other Shihan to train his group.Sure was exciting training with people like Tamura, Saito, Kanai ,Sugano, Shibata, Sekiya Senseis to name but a few.
Nowadays Chiba Sensei has mellowed .His classes are excellent.Chiba Sensei can be very funny at times There is a lot of humour in his classes nowadays..As most people are aware he was subject of a stroke a few years ago and of course he is over 70 now.Although he has mellowed, now and again the 'young Chiba Sensei' reappears .Although he can give you a real talking to/and when required a quiet slap on the wrist, my own view is this, his bark is worse than his bite.What we have here is a man who imo has a complex character,partly old time Samurai, with a warriors mentality, yet at the same time a man who can be generous,humourous,self sacrificing, intense, deeply philosophical [his writings on Aikido are profound].All in all he is one of a kind. I am very fortunate to be one of his oldest students .Forty years + has passed and I can say that it has never been boring when Chiba Sensei is around.Cheers, Joe.
Ps Off to meet Chiba Sensei at University of Worcester on Thurs.Also meeting with Miyamoto Sensei from Hombu dojo.