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Old 12-18-2007, 04:13 PM   #1
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Chris Hein brought this up in the thread about his training video. I thought I'd post it up as a separate thread, since it's an object of curiosity in its own right.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvJ3bI-VyDg

What, if anything, does this say about aikido? Is it purely a historical curiosity, or does it represent an enduring issue?
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:41 PM   #2
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

I think Tohei is Awesome, here are my reasons:

1. Tohei tried his stuff against someone who was honestly attempting to mess him up.

2. Tohei had the guts to allow a completely unknown person to "challenge" him.

3. Tohei allowed it to be filmed.

Now I guess it's arguable that O-sensei might take some of the credit for making this happen. However Tohei actually did it so kudos to him!

Last edited by ChrisHein : 12-18-2007 at 05:52 PM.

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Old 12-18-2007, 06:59 PM   #3
Michael Hackett
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

That clip comes from an old TV show called "Rendevous with Adventure" and I think it was filmed in 1953. The two Americans travelled all over the world and participated in various activities. In this particular segement, they visited O Sensei to explore the art of Aikido and both "trained" at the dojo for part of the show. As I recall, Herman (or whatever his name actually was) was a former wrestler or football player and a pretty big and strong guy. What impressed me the most was that Tohei Sensei dealt with him in a spirit of fun and took care not to injure him during the filming. I don't think "Herman" was giving it his all and I'm sure that Tohei Sensei was holding back as well. This was probably one of the first mainstream films of Aikido that had broad circulation in the west in those days.

Michael
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Old 12-18-2007, 08:46 PM   #4
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

I must say, Tohei sure looked good.
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:12 AM   #5
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Tohei should have dropped the hakama. Not only was it tactically unsound, but as a result he ripped a perfectly good hakama.

Whenever I watch it, I feel that Tohei's judo instincts came to the fore. Perhaps a point in favor of Shodokan-style randori?

Josh Reyer

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Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 12-19-2007, 08:37 AM   #6
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Joshua Reyer wrote: View Post
Whenever I watch it, I feel that Tohei's judo instincts came to the fore. Perhaps a point in favor of Shodokan-style randori?
I really believe there is a fine line between what is 'judo' and what is 'aikido'. I realize a lot of folks will disagree with this, but if you close distance and start offering a lot of resistance, even keeping aiki principles it will begin to look like judo. On the other side, you have people like Mifune who were obviously doing aiki in judo randori. Absolutely beautiful to watch.

Tomiki wrote and excellent piece, "On Modern Jujutsu" that relates to this thread a bit.

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Old 12-19-2007, 08:56 AM   #7
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Great article. I think it talks about a lot of the things that have been on my mind for a while.

As for the clip, well. I think it's an interesting historical curiosity, but I don't see a lot that can be ascertained from it. I suppose it speaks well of Tohei's ability.
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Old 12-23-2007, 02:18 AM   #8
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I really believe there is a fine line between what is 'judo' and what is 'aikido'
...
Tomiki wrote and excellent piece, "On Modern Jujutsu" that relates to this thread a bit.
Thanks for the link Christian. Tomiki seems to aknowledge many problems in redeveloping his idea of budo for competitive training. I don't think he really solved any of them though, but that's a huge other topic. Interesting that he alludes to an undeveloped plan to train atemiwaza within the Judo system.

Yes, Mifune was very very skillful, fantastic to get a feel of what Judo can be like without obvious forceing. Imagine being that good, THEN doing Aikido. All of a sudden a lot of things would work against active resistance.
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Old 12-23-2007, 11:57 AM   #9
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

With the very recent ending of the official military occupation of Japan in 1952, it's really hard to say what constraints Tohei Sensei felt in this match filmed for American television.

I think it says very little. Tohei Sensei is doing his best not to harm a untrained guest who is working more on holding back to stay up than to attempt anything much (in the film they say they trained for 7 days before this). There have been some Aikikai seniors in the past that have tried to smear Tohei Sensei using this film, so it's a bit of sore point with those of us who happen to remember some obnoxious articles that conveniently ignored the circumstances surrounding this film.

I personally think he comes off quite well if you remember the context. Toward the end, he makes a quick strong quick irimi and enters behind "Herman" and makes a kokyunage move much like we still practice dropping "Herman" on his butt. The pin is not unlike one of the Hawaiian teachers (now passed away) showed at a seminar over 10 years ago.

Unfortunately, the 16mm reel to reel amateur film of Tohei Sensei when he first went to Hawaii in '53-54 and got set up unexpectedly with a challenge off against 4 or 5 black belt judoka at once who were not invested in anyway of making him look good and in which he said he doesn't remember much, he was just trying to survive. That episode apparently wowed the audience and started his reputation in Hawaii that brought a lot of Judo students to become Aikido students at the time, that film seems to be lost. Instead, we are stuck with a wacky early TV show.

Last edited by kironin : 12-23-2007 at 12:12 PM.

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Old 12-23-2007, 12:59 PM   #10
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post

Unfortunately, the 16mm reel to reel amateur film of Tohei Sensei when he first went to Hawaii in '53-54 and got set up unexpectedly with a challenge off against 4 or 5 black belt judoka at once who were not invested in anyway of making him look good and in which he said he doesn't remember much, he was just trying to survive. That episode apparently wowed the audience and started his reputation in Hawaii that brought a lot of Judo students to become Aikido students at the time, that film seems to be lost. Instead, we are stuck with a wacky early TV show.
You started off talking about this 16mm film but got side tracked. What happend to this film, has anyone seen it?

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Old 12-30-2007, 04:04 PM   #11
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Actually I don't see what you mean by side tracked. That whole paragraph was about the 16 mm film except for the last sentence.

I think it's been lost. I'll dig up a reference.

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Old 01-06-2008, 08:36 PM   #12
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Michael Douglas wrote: View Post
Yes, Mifune was very very skillful, fantastic to get a feel of what Judo can be like without obvious forceing. Imagine being that good, THEN doing Aikido. All of a sudden a lot of things would work against active resistance.
A lot of what people know of Mifune is from watching some black/white clips of him back in the the 50's/60's (correct me if I am wrong). Nothing against Mifune's skill level at all but he looks so stinkin smooth and crisp in his movements partly because of his uke who was (if I am not mistaken) an 8th dan himself at the time of the filming. Sorry to burst anyones bubble but Mifune would look crappy in comparison if he had me as his uke as I am rather clumsy. He was, however, the best technician of his time and gives everone something to work toward.
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:48 AM   #13
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Craig Hocker wrote: View Post
I personally think he comes off quite well if you remember the context.
You know, you're right. It is easy to look at this at face value without any knowledge of the background surrounding the filming of this.

Also, I think Tohei Sensei is the only person I have ever seen wear a grey Gi and Hakama. (from his other videos)

Last edited by roadster : 01-07-2008 at 07:51 AM.
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Old 01-07-2008, 08:36 AM   #14
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Steve Wright wrote: View Post
A lot of what people know of Mifune is from watching some black/white clips of him back in the the 50's/60's (correct me if I am wrong). Nothing against Mifune's skill level at all but he looks so stinkin smooth and crisp in his movements partly because of his uke who was (if I am not mistaken) an 8th dan himself at the time of the filming. Sorry to burst anyones bubble but Mifune would look crappy in comparison if he had me as his uke as I am rather clumsy. He was, however, the best technician of his time and gives everone something to work toward.
I don't judge someone by how their uke looks. One should be able to see past that. I have the compilation DVD that you're probably talking about and it has a lot more than demo material. It also has a decent amount of randori video with various folks trying to throw him. Not every throw looks textbook perfect, but it is all amazing and inspiring, even when it's just a much larger opponent stumbling and collapsing as they try to throw the old man. Brilliant stuff.

Chris Moses
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Old 01-07-2008, 09:53 AM   #15
ramenboy
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Michael Hackett wrote: View Post
...As I recall, Herman (or whatever his name actually was) was a former wrestler or football player and a pretty big and strong guy...
yeah that is a cool clip.

but i thought 'herman' was actually a young terry dobson. i'm sure i'm wrong, but in the clip from aikido journal's dvd of prewar students, tohei sensei is teaching some basic movement to a smaller japanese lady, and mr dobson is the uke. there is a strong resemblance between that uke and 'herman'

i'm sure i'll be corrected if i'm wrong. :P
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Old 01-07-2008, 10:10 AM   #16
ramenboy
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

ok, i was wrong. i was talking about the wrong clip. sorry guys. i assumed i knew what you guys were talking about before going to youtube!!!!! anyways, you know what they say when you assume...
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Old 01-07-2008, 05:33 PM   #17
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Christian Moses wrote: View Post
I don't judge someone by how their uke looks. One should be able to see past that. I have the compilation DVD that you're probably talking about and it has a lot more than demo material. It also has a decent amount of randori video with various folks trying to throw him. Not every throw looks textbook perfect, but it is all amazing and inspiring, even when it's just a much larger opponent stumbling and collapsing as they try to throw the old man. Brilliant stuff.
Oh, don't get me wrong... his movement, posture, technique is beautiful. But... is it effective. It is truely inspiring to watch someone of that age move so gracefully. He was like in his mid 60's when those films were made (I think). Even the film of him doing randori isn't really an honest representation of his abilities. Do you honestly think that in Japan a young 20-25 year old brute would be left breathing if were to go out and throw Mifune? All those guys in the background would have killed him -literally. You just don't do that to a living legend. I have heard stories of young brown belts here in the states going out and trying to prove something against 60-70 year old 6-8th dan's and end up breaking the old guys finger. They literally had the crap kicked out of them by every single person in the dojo and were left crawling off the mat in tears. Nope, sorry. I don't buy the effectiveness of a 60-70 year old man -be it Mifune, Kano, Ueshiba, Shioda, or whoever when compared to a well trained younger person. It is just not physically possible once the body starts to break down.

I will gaurantee that my son will be able to beat the legendary Carl Lewis in the 100 meter dash when Lewis is 65 years old. My son will be around 25 then. Lewis will have bad knees, ankles, and lower back problems. In his prime though... no contest. The same for Mifune and the others.

Sorry. I am sure that will make me a lot of enemies here but even in the Randori video's of Mifune... his partner was a major lightweight in his abilities or he was, in a manner of speaking, pulling his punches (as he should have working with a legend at that age). We can all still learn a great deal from Mifune though by watching those video's. I would watch them over film of Ueshiba any day. So, so smooth...

Ok, let the hate mail begin.
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Old 01-08-2008, 07:38 AM   #18
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Steve Wright wrote: View Post
A lot of what people know of Mifune is from watching some black/white clips of him back in the the 50's/60's (correct me if I am wrong). Nothing against Mifune's skill level at all but he looks so stinkin smooth and crisp in his movements partly because of his uke who was (if I am not mistaken) an 8th dan himself at the time of the filming. Sorry to burst anyones bubble but Mifune would look crappy in comparison if he had me as his uke as I am rather clumsy. He was, however, the best technician of his time and gives everone something to work toward.
I'll agree with Steve Wright here: obviously, yes, if you're saying the demo would suck if you didn't cooperate, that's true. You could almost certainly do the same with Ueshiba, Helio Gracie, or any number of other legends once they became old enough. The point is not to prove his skill - it was already by that point thoroughly proven from real competition - but rather to let future generations get a look at his style and technique.

Now, if you're saying you could take Mifune in his prime, or even do anything besides get immediately inverted and slammed, I'm pretty skeptical.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kyuzo_M...nician_of_judo

Because if that's what you mean to imply, there's a whole crowd of judoka who lost national tournaments to him year after year who might have taken offense at your implication!
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:49 AM   #19
Upyu
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Steve Wright wrote: View Post
Mifune, Kano, Ueshiba, Shioda, or whoever when compared to a well trained younger person. It is just not physically possible once the body starts to break down.
I...just...couldn't resist the bait

Dunno, maybe you just haven't met anyone competent yet.
There's a certain facet of the body that grows stronger with age and doesn't deteriorate as easily as muscle...IF you know how to train a certain way.

Anyways, there's plenty of stories here in Japan of guys (several olympic gold medalist judoka come to mind) going to Sagawa's dojo when he was in his 80's and got knocked unconscious by him.

Sounds like poppycock...but I think if more people could actually do rudimentary internal mechanics and understand the logic behind the training, then this kind of debate wouldn't happen so easily...

Then again, that also assumes that more high rankers could demonstrate these kind of skills with ease ^^;
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Old 01-17-2008, 07:55 AM   #20
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Quote:
Steve Wright wrote: View Post

I will gaurantee that my son will be able to beat the legendary Carl Lewis in the 100 meter dash when Lewis is 65 years old. My son will be around 25 then. Lewis will have bad knees, ankles, and lower back problems. In his prime though... no contest. The same for Mifune and the others.
Common misperception, comparing apples and oranges really.

Carl Lewis uses "one way" to train the body to achieve his goal, which is mainly to train the body to go as fast as possible over a set length.
The point of bujutsu/MAs, is to down the person in the most effective way possible, and for this, there are, when you get down to it, two different systems of using the body to accomplish this goal.
One way degrades in large part over time.
The other way hits its peak around mid 70's or so (depending on how the person trains)
Course, there are physical limits...even Sagawa threw out his back from over training, in his early nineties
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Old 01-17-2008, 09:23 AM   #21
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

LOL! Thanks for those posts Rob. I hope I can throw out my back like that when I'm in my nineties.
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Old 01-17-2008, 10:27 AM   #22
ChrisMoses
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

I'll chime in too.

I know a few very good grapplers. I have heard stories from them about deciding to show up the 'old man' so to speak. Most find that even if they catch them off guard, they are dumped pretty hard. It's not that the old timer can go all out all day, but they still have the ability to do it (granted we're talking about really good people, maybe not Mifune's level, but not your average dude either). Yes certainly folks train differently with them, but it would be foolish to think that someone of Mifune's caliber couldn't actually hold his own in his old age. I'm sure if that were the case, people like Jon Bluming would have had no problem dumping him and moving on. Instead he stayed and trained.

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Old 01-25-2008, 10:14 PM   #23
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

Just to give a little perspective to the OP clip, I have found the original clip on Youtube. The whole documentary is seperated into three parts:

Part 1 of 3

Part 2 of 3

Part 3 of 3

Enjoy.

Boon.

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Old 01-25-2008, 10:30 PM   #24
xuzen
 
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Re: Video Clip - Koichi Tohei and "Herman"

With regards to the above clip, I want to draw attention to M. Ueshiba's version of tenkan irimi nage... do you guys notice he shift the direction of throw so slightly? I notice a very subtle neck twist as he throw his uke.

Boon.

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