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Old 06-23-2019, 09:59 PM   #1
gezznz
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Re: It Had to Be Felt #24: Chiba Kazuo: "There We Were, Two Handsome Young Men"

[Note: this post was taken from the "It Had to Be Felt" thread It Had to Be Felt #24: Chiba Kazuo: "There We Were, Two Handsome Young Men"]

Hmmm, a teacher who has to apologise to his students forty years later. Sensei Ken Williams (the one whose wrist was broken by Chiba) broke my forearm in nikkyo, but it was not done in violence, and he was visibly remorseful. It was my fault any way, as I did not yield to the pain, and we were doing an exercise in taking more of the stretch. But pure violence by the teacher is now called by its true name - abuse.

Last edited by akiy : 06-24-2019 at 12:32 AM.

Best regards,
Gerald
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Old 06-24-2019, 05:37 AM   #2
MRoh
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Re: It Had to Be Felt #24: Chiba Kazuo: "There We Were, Two Handsome Young Men"

Quote:
Gerald Lopez wrote: View Post

Sensei Ken Williams (the one whose wrist was broken by Chiba)
As Henry has explained, the wrist was not broken, it was a misunderstanding.
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Old 06-24-2019, 12:25 PM   #3
Alex Megann
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

I know of two people, now quite senior in the aikido world, who can't straighten their arms, two or three decades after their last exposure to this teacher...

Alex
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Old 06-26-2019, 06:57 PM   #4
mathewjgano
 
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

FWIW...I suspect anyone who broke someone's anything in training made a mistake. Feeling is as important as doing I believe. I could have been broken so many ways if not for the awareness of my partners. Thank you to them for not assuming I was good enough to avoid it.
However, sometimes mistakes are made. I once broke my own bone. I know well-meaning people who accidentally got broken too.

Last edited by mathewjgano : 06-26-2019 at 07:04 PM.

Gambarimashyo!
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Old 06-27-2019, 01:16 AM   #5
Alex Megann
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
FWIW...I suspect anyone who broke someone's anything in training made a mistake. Feeling is as important as doing I believe. I could have been broken so many ways if not for the awareness of my partners. Thank you to them for not assuming I was good enough to avoid it.
However, sometimes mistakes are made. I once broke my own bone. I know well-meaning people who accidentally got broken too.
Ellis Amdur has some thought-provoking observations on intention to harm, versus mistake:

IHTBF on Kazuo Chiba

Alex
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Old 07-04-2019, 11:28 AM   #6
ninjaqutie
 
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

It's easy to pass judgement on a dead man that you have zero personal experience with.

~Look into the eyes of your opponent & steal his spirit.
~To be a good martial artist is to be good thief; if you want my knowledge, you must take it from me.
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Old 07-04-2019, 12:35 PM   #7
Hellis
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

To Gerald Lopez:

I am replying to your comment for the benefit of those that may/ or have been misled by your statement.

I note, you quote my article on the early UK Aikido days with K Chiba Sensei.
I was most surprised that you mistakenly state " Sensei Ken Williams ( the one whose wrist was broken by Chiba ).
I wrote this article almost ten years ago (?) so, I re-read the article, to try to understand how you were able to make such a ridiculous statement.
It is quite clear from the article that Chiba Sensei assumed he had broken KW wrist from the letter that KW wrote to M Nakazono Sensei ( AikiKai European Representative ) who then reported the alleged incident to OSensei Ueshiba.

We ( H Ellis - H Foster - D Eastman ) were not aware of the letter to Nakazono Sensei, the three of us informed Chiba Sensei that the day after his visit, KW was on the mat teaching and practising Aikido and not a band aid in sight.
With regard to a misunderstanding, K Chiba never saw the letter, nor did he ever receive a copy.
I actually asked Jei Nakazono if he has the said letter in his fathers files, he replied he knew nothing of the letter.

Henry Ellis
Co-author ` Positive Aikido`
http://britishaikido.blogspot.com

Last edited by Hellis : 07-04-2019 at 12:37 PM. Reason: mistake
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Old 07-04-2019, 12:47 PM   #8
Alex Megann
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Quote:
Ashley Carter wrote: View Post
It's easy to pass judgement on a dead man that you have zero personal experience with.
Are you accusing someone in particular of passing judgement?

Alex

Last edited by Alex Megann : 07-04-2019 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 07-11-2019, 04:51 PM   #9
gezznz
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Dear Henry Ellis,

Thank you for clarifying the issue. I apologise for the "misquote" which may have resulted from reading too quickly (while also fielding numerous emails etc.).

I appreciate the enormous value you may have gained from Chiba Sensei, and I do not wish to disparage the experience you had with him.

My main point was that negligent or intentional injury of students is no longer acceptable within the modern context.

Best regards,
Gerald
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Old 07-22-2019, 05:16 AM   #10
philipsmith
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

I feel |I must add my observations here.I began my training with Chiba Sensei at the age of 12 (in 1970) and did so for the remainder of his active Aikido life. Yes he was a severe teacher and his Aikido reflected that but my personal experience was that he was also a compassionate individual who cared deeply for his students. Any injuries I received from him were not deliberate but you always "lived on the edge" during ukeme. i cherish my time with him and miss him both as an Aikdoka and a person.As is often the case the reputation does not fully reflect the reality
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Old 05-07-2020, 01:53 AM   #11
Rupert Atkinson
 
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

I experienced a Chiba UK seminar (summer school). I loved the way he chastised the seniors for their mistakes. Certainly kept me awake. When I first got my 2nd Dan I was pretty sharp at ukemi. He threw me about a bit at some point and I could handle it (I was young and energetic and sharp). On that seminar (1991 or 92) he did injure a couple of people, but only seniors that he knew (more senior than me), and from my vantage point, they were just not able to make the ukemi. He held nothing back and then chastised them for not training hard enough. It was a week long seminar and he did likewise every day. I like to think I was lithe enough to do good ukemi, but to be sure, he did not know me so may have been a bit more careful. Certainly, from my eyes, you had better be good at ukemi if he used you as uke. To this day, when I hear 'so and so' got hurt by him, it translates to me that 'so and so' could not take the ukemi. That might sound mean, but that's the way I saw it then and that's the way I see it now. I would never act that way myself though. When throwing, at the point of throw, it is really quite easy to know whether or not the uke will be OK. Years of Judo taught me that if you throw well, and have total control, I mean total control (not expecting uke to jump), you will never hurt your opponent. That point is completely lost on many Aikidoka, I think (due to all the jumping/expectation to fall/lack of kuzushi/lack of real throwing) - if I throw (I mean throw - when I have total control) someone it scares them half to death (last year, one Yudansha let out a huge scream, sumi-otoshi head over heels, but smiled when he got up ... refreshing). I enjoyed my Chiba experience. When I went to Japan (late 80's onwards) I sought out and trained with a few Uchi-deshi and they were all totally different.

Last edited by Rupert Atkinson : 05-07-2020 at 02:02 AM.

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Old 05-09-2020, 05:39 AM   #12
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Hello Rupert,

I have marked my Facebook page with two shots of ukemi from koshinage, thrown by Chiba Sensei. The location was the Tenpukan Dojo in London. I think it was before I came to Japan.

Best wishes,

Peter G.

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Old 05-09-2020, 05:50 PM   #13
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

A question to people who trained with Chiba, got injured and observed others getting injured by him - what purpose did this serve?

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Old 05-10-2020, 06:15 AM   #14
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
A question to people who trained with Chiba, got injured and observed others getting injured by him - what purpose did this serve?
He was very passionate and quite obviously, on a high mission.
When he felt challenged, he could sometimes go wild for seconds.
But on the other hand, if you behaved properly and asked him politely, he'd explain to you everything logically and go with you through every waza, including several matching atemi, in a wonderfully patient, detailed and powerful manner. He then would take you on the edge of the knife, almost lovingly ensuring that you understood.
It might have depended on what he saw in you and you might have been hurt at moments like this, if you weren't made for it or still not up to his expectation.

So, not on purpose.. as fare as I can say.
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Old 05-10-2020, 08:29 AM   #15
sorokod
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

I wasn't asking if Chiba was hurting students on purpose. Given his experience and skill level, the answer is obvious.

My question was about his students, especially the long time students - what purpose did they see in this sort of teaching? How did this benefited them?

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Old 05-10-2020, 06:08 PM   #16
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Quote:
David Soroko wrote: View Post
I wasn't asking if Chiba was hurting students on purpose. Given his experience and skill level, the answer is obvious.

My question was about his students, especially the long time students - what purpose did they see in this sort of teaching? How did this benefited them?
Hello David,

I discussed this question obliquely I'n my review of Liese Klein's biography. Whenever I mentioned Chiba to the more senior Shihan in the Hombu, they always used the word 'samurai.' Yamaguchi Seigo, especially, considered that Chiba had been born in the wrong era. There is no point in being a samurai unless you have a lord, to whom you pledge unquestioned allegiance, and the problem for Chiba was that his lord (Morihei Ueshiba) died rather soon and the family were not a very personal substitute. He was a rebel and exhibited his rebelliousness in the dojo by taking his ukes to the very edge. The result was either unquestioned hero worship coupled with a struggle to find deep meaning in everything the man did, or dismissal of the man as mentally unbalanced, or acceptance of the man, but on one's own terms. I think the Jesuit Fr Oshida tried to do this and I think I did the same. But I never trusted him enough to surrender myself completely.

I have been following the controversy in the UK press about Prince Harry and Megan Markle. She is thought by some to be a narcissist, and the parallels with Chiba are uncomfortably close (for me). Bernd's response is sound and reasonable, but I think it is possible to find a more sinister picture -- and one that other shihans exhibited. After all, if you are O Sensei and have a potential homicidal maniac as one of your students, what are you to do? Chiba once recommended to me to train with Arikawa and he took you just as close to the edge, but in a different way. Arikawa seemed to do it thoughtfully and deliberately, but with Chiba, it was all part of the samurai package.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-10-2020 at 06:15 PM.

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Old 05-11-2020, 07:41 AM   #17
sorokod
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Hi Peter

I have a second hand story:

Some years ago, the head of my dojo went to train in nearby Birankai place. In the background, there was a vague idea that if all goes well,
the two dojos could do something together (cross invite teachers, maybe a seminar - that kind of thing). During the training, my teacher
got punched in the face. The way I remember it, it was a purley educational "let me show an an opening in your waza" thing.

We had no further contact with the Birankai people again.



I hesitate to extrapolate too much from a single data point, and interested in what Chiba's students did in their own training given the violence their teacher exhibited.

About "taking the uke to the edge" - this is a euphemism in my opinion. Edge is not a problem, it is when the uke "falls off the edge" that is the problem.

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Old 05-11-2020, 06:43 PM   #18
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Hello David,

To my knowledge, we do not have any Birankai dojos in Japan; if there are any dojos that Chiba bequeathed, they are most likely variations on the usual Hombu shade of grey. There was a dojo in Nagoya, to which I was invited, but travelling there was frankly not worth the effort, especially when there was a dojo in Hiroshima run by a senior yudansha who did not do imitations.

However, I do believe that Birankai dojos outside Japan do try to be replicas of real Chiba dojos -- and this is what happened in London after he left and went back to Japan. He left behind a dojo in London, where the yudansha strove to practice exactly as he did, even though there was also a dojo nearby run by one of his closest students: a Japanese named Kanetsuka. Some of us went to both -- and the yudansha would have preferred that I chose their dojo, because it was more 'authentically' aikido and I knew K Chiba.

I did not agree with this, since I saw aikido largely in terms of substance, which remained the same, no matter what form the substance took. So I suspect that someone coming to my own dojo here would not know from my own training what teachers I have had.

As for edges, think of the various ways you can do Shiho-nage, especially what I will call the Saito way and the Fujita way. In both cases you can injure your uke quite severely.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-11-2020 at 06:46 PM.

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Old 05-12-2020, 07:24 AM   #19
Alex Megann
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

I should start by saying that I have had little direct experience of taking ukemi from Chiba Sensei -- although he was a regular visitor to our family home in the 1970s, by the time I started aikido in 1977-78 he had moved back to Japan. I did go to a seminar with him in 2003, and my experience of ukemi from him on that occasion was (perhaps surprisingly) quite unremarkable, although I wasn't comfortable with the way he treated some of the seniors in the class. I have studied many YouTube clips of him, though, and what he expected of his partners raises a whole host of questions.

On the subject of ukemi "on the edge", though, I can comment more constructively. The shihan I had the most experience with over the years were my own teacher, Minoru Kanetsuka, and Masatake Fujita, and both tested my ukemi to the limit in their individual ways. Peter has described colourfully the experience of Fujita's throws, and I think my own experience is very similar. He was in complete control of his uke from beginning to end, and the acceleration during each technique was quite awe-inspiring. Despite this, he judged the intensity precisely according to his uke's ability, and I never felt any real risk of injury, despite the adrenaline rush. Taking ukemi from Kanetsuka in the 1980s and 1990s was along the same lines, if maybe slightly less hair-raising -- decisive control from beginning to end, with no sense of muscular force. I particularly remember his shihonage: your ability to avoid knocking yourself out on the tatami at the end of the downward spiral was crucial to survival, but again he never injured me. His aiki skills seriously improved in his last 20 years, and in the last ten years or so you had almost no sensation of what was happening to your balance, apart from the feeling that it was just gone completely. His technique became very free and soft, but he still maintained complete control over his partner. Both these teachers had high enough skill that they could decide whether or not to injure, and chose not to. The only instances I am aware of when people were injured by Kanetsuka were (as I understand) when a couple of "outsiders" who perhaps unwisely decided to test his technique by being deliberately obstructive. I will not comment on whether or not that was justified.

I have had less pleasant exposure to one or two other shihan, though. There is one particular member of the Aikikai Hombu teaching staff whose teaching skills and demeanour in the class I respect deeply, but whose aikido itself I have mixed feelings about. His technique is sharp, powerful and snappy, and you really need to be constantly alert. He expects very specific forms of ukemi when he demonstrates, and if you don't do what he wants there is a definite risk of injury. An example of this involves sankyo -- I have been used to a very spiral and three-dimensional form of control with this technique, which I think of as a more old-fashioned (and, in my opinion, more effective) way of taking your partner down into to the shoulder pin without any real stress to the wrist, elbow or shoulder. This shihan, though, teaches the more common form, in which tori holds uke's wrist in the sankyo grip, and rotates away on a horizontal plane so you have to move backward sharply to avoid your wrist being broken, with little real kuzushi occurring. On one occasion about five years ago I was his demonstration uke and my fifty-something year old frame couldn't react fast enough -- as a result my wrist was sprained and I couldn't lift anything much heavier than a pen with that hand for over a month afterwards. Despite this, I doubt he intended to harm me, though I don't know whether he meant for me to learn something in particular from the experience. No doubt he expected that I, as a relatively experienced yudansha, would have good enough ukemi skills, but he didn't have the control of my structure to make the technique work convincingly on me.

Coming back to the topic of the thread, the biggest question for me is one I alluded to earlier on in my reference to Ellis Amdur's article. What can we say about a teacher who has the skill to choose between injuring and not injuring, but goes down the latter path? What is the lesson? Does this reflect on the morality of the teacher? As it happens, Ellis has reflected at length and with great honesty about this in "Duelling with O-Sensei", a book I strongly recommend.

A final thought. Most of us don't have the skill to have completely control every partner we come across from start to end of an interaction in the dojo. Even for seasoned veterans, there will be times when we may feel that our partner is starting to escape, and has the skill to be able to reverse the technique and take dominance. What happens in that fraction of a second says a whole volume about the kind of person we are, and the maturity of our spirit.

Alex
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Old 05-12-2020, 09:40 AM   #20
sorokod
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Re: On Chiba Kazuo

Peter and Alex

Thank you for your thoughtful replies.

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