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Old 11-28-2013, 12:55 AM   #1
Guillaume Erard
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It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Hi everyone, here is the latest entry in Ellis Amdur's series "It Ain't Nescessarily So". This time, he discusses one of Aikido's great stories: Koichi Tohei defeating 5 judo champions.
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Old 11-28-2013, 08:06 AM   #2
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Clicking the link opens a page where it says:

Quote:
Table './guilla8_gsedb/gse25_session' is marked as crashed and should be repaired SQL=INSERT INTO `gse25_session` (`session_id`, `client_id`, `time`) VALUES ('1c723148bf28e43994b8471bc5a97c43', 0, '1385651096')

Last edited by Demetrio Cereijo : 11-28-2013 at 08:10 AM.

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Old 11-28-2013, 08:39 AM   #3
Alex Megann
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Clicking the link opens a page where it says:
Same for me.

The Ki no Kenkyukai's IT department must have got its best hackers working day and night on that…

Alex
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Old 11-28-2013, 10:42 AM   #4
Demetrio Cereijo
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

French version works

http://www.guillaumeerard.fr/aikido/...with-adventure

Quote:
The Ki no Kenkyukai's IT department must have got its best hackers working day and night on that…
LOL

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Old 11-28-2013, 12:44 PM   #5
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Demetrio Cereijo wrote: View Post
Well,
I've just read it in french on G.E.'s website and, like always, Ellis does make a good point.

If I remember rightly, somewhere in an interview Chiba sensei brought up how surprised he had been that he was able to throw the Aikidoka at hombu so easily with his judo when he first started to learn the art. Then Tamura had come to hit him in the stomach and only this had made him rethink his attitude towards the whole thing. And that, years later when in danger, his body still had automatically reacted with judo, which he found regrettable because it should have been aikido by then.

Best,

Bernd

Last edited by Bernd Lehnen : 11-28-2013 at 12:50 PM.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:06 PM   #6
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Alex Megann wrote: View Post
Same for me.

The Ki no Kenkyukai's IT department must have got its best hackers working day and night on that�

Alex
I was able to read the English version last night. I'm getting the same error message now though.

Carl
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:32 PM   #7
Bernd Lehnen
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

For the time being, in short( Ellis may correct me) and incomplete:

Tohei was a strong man. He defeated 5 Judo champions one after the other. Tohei was a former judoka himself. There is no evidence that he accomplished his feat on the ground of the ( as claimed by Kishomaru Ueshiba) invincibility/superiority of aikido. On the other hand, Tohei had trouble with a heavy man who (probably like Tohei) didn't really know how to fight and didn't react in a predictable way.

So what is left is a big discrepancy. Lore versus fact.

Best,
Bernd

Last edited by Bernd Lehnen : 11-28-2013 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 11-28-2013, 02:51 PM   #8
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Interestingly enough TVGuide.com states that the episode of Rendezvous With Adventure following the Aikido one was a visit to a judo training school.

http://www.tvguide.com/detail/tv-sho...isodeid=748358

I wonder how Herman "The Pot Roast King" Jensen fared against seasoned 1950s era judoka. From what I've been able to turn up the show was produced by a South African company (Sjambok Productions), and is exceedingly difficult to come by. But then again, someone did just find a bunch of lost Dr. Who episodes so we may yet see more of the legend of Herman, the man who went toe to toe with Tohei (I like that!) and lived to tell the tale.
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Old 11-28-2013, 03:09 PM   #9
Ellis Amdur
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

The last one on the list is: "The ancient skills of Japan's samurai warriors. Lee Green narrates."

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Old 11-28-2013, 04:07 PM   #10
Guillaume Erard
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

The problem has been fixed. Sorry about that.
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Old 11-29-2013, 01:26 AM   #11
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Guillaume Erard wrote: View Post
The problem has been fixed. Sorry about that.
Well,
how come that now there's a little difference of emphasis/de-emphasis in the French and English version:

Quote:
L'hagiographie de l'aïkido a fait grand cas de la rencontre entre Tohei et les judoka en Californie. Je me souviens d'Ueshiba Kisshomaru citant cet évènement dans un de ses premiers livres comme une preuve de l'invincibilité de l'aïkido. « Rendez-vous with Adventure » a rendu cela tout à fait impossible à croire pour beaucoup d'observateurs extérieurs. Même si les judoka qui l'ont observé à l'époque de la manifestation à San Jose ont été profondément convaincus de sa puissance, l'aura presque mystique est venue de la déclaration de Tohei concernant Ueshiba : « C'est parce qu'il était relâché, en fait, qu'il pouvait générer autant de puissance. »

Aikidō hagiography once made much of Tohei's encounter with the judōka in California. "Rendez-vous with Adventure" made that utterly unbelievable to many outside observers. But the judōka who observed him at the time of the San Jose demonstration were utterly convinced of his power. The awe, however, came from his manifesting, in Tohei's statement regarding Ueshiba: "[…] because he was relaxed, in fact, that he could generate so much power."
Best,
Bernd
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Old 11-29-2013, 01:37 AM   #12
Ellis Amdur
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Bernd - It's an editorial error that needs to be fixed. I wanted the line "Je me souviens d'Ueshiba Kisshomaru citant cet évènement dans un de ses premiers livres comme une preuve de l'invincibilité de l'aïkido" cut because when I originally wrote the essay, I didn't recall where I'd read it. And just by chance, I found the quote literally hours before the essay was to go up. I asked Guillaume to take that sentence out. Apparently, he took out the English but not the French. I wanted it removed only because it reads like I didn't know where I read the quote, yet there it is above. Just style, that 's all.

The passage it refers to is quoted in its entirety earlier in the essay, the one where Ueshiba K. refers to Tohei in these terms: "This event was announced to all the world and the fact he defeated the five main players without any trouble—the giants whom he had not yet met—made him a hero in the United States and showed the true value of Aikido."

I doubt very much that the Aikikai received the newsletter of the Budokawi Quarterly Bulletin, an English newsletter. So this suggests that someone - Tohei himself or one of his partisans - recounted the story in such heroic terms.
Best
Ellis Amdur

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Old 11-29-2013, 01:37 AM   #13
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Apologies that this thread has (temporarily I hope) become one about whether or not the link to the original article is working, but ... FWIW, for my part, I'm getting it normally again:

http://www.guillaumeerard.com/aikido...with-adventure

Thank you to Guillaume for your efforts (I'll have to actually speak to you next time I see you rather than just exchange the "gaijin nod" - always so busy these days but \‚µ--󂠂è‚Ü‚¹‚ñ)

Carl
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Old 11-29-2013, 06:26 AM   #14
Dazaifoo
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Just to introduce an additional perspective on Tohei's prowess vs Hawaiian judoka, here's an excerpt from Roy Suenaka's biography/training text Complete Aikido. Suenaka was a student of both Ueshiba and Tohei and Okinawan karate, jiujitsu, boxing, etc... The following is in regards to Tohei's first visit to Hawaii in February, 1953.

"Tohei Sensei's first Hawaiian aikido demonstration took place at the Nishi Kai and was attended by the Nishi Kai membership and invited guests, which included many of the area's prominent martials artists, among them Yukiso Yamamoto; karateka "Koa" Kimura (who would later shift his study to aikido and ally himself with Tohei's Ki no Kenkyukai before breaking away to found his own organization); judoka Kazuto Sugimoto; noted kendoka and respected local business-man Isao Takahashi; and judoka and Okinawan Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler Oki Shikina. Suenka has vivid memories of this important event:
"[The demonstration observers] took part in the demonstration and, naturally, they resisted, they tried to really, really overthrow [Tohei Sensei], and they couldn't do it; he threw those guys around like nothing. Tohei Sensei was a bear. He was about five-feet three-inches tall, and at that time probably weighed about 180 pounds, so he was a bear-a big, little man- extremely powerful, and these guys could not hold him down. Even… Oki Shikina… he was thrown around, and said, 'My, this guy is phenomenal.' His demonstration was very impressive. But, at the same time, everyone who stepped onto the mat with him was very respectful of who he was, and why he was there. They tried hard to throw him, but they didn't come at him full-force, as in a street-fighting situation. It was a very controlled situation." (Emphasis mine)

Now, I no longer have my hard copy of the book, (I had to copy this excerpt from Google books) but I do recall that Suenaka addresses the Tohei vs Herman fiasco, and that Suenaka excuses the performance due to the considerations mentioned (lack of ukemi know-how, not wanting to injure a foreign guest, etc.). That last bit from above though, "they didn't come at him full-force, as in a street-fighting situation. It was a very controlled situation." That makes one wonder, was Tohei was demonstrating ki (or aiki?) against set waza or engaging in a light randori? What was the blind spot that allowed him to get taken down by Herman? Or was it all just performance anxiety in front of a camera crew with the Doshu watching.

On the other hand, what did Herman know? (I'm really starting to love that guy!)

In any case I will definitely have to pick up another copy of the book, if only to read his recollections about Ueshiba vibrating the dojo late at night with his chanting and other IHTBF nuggets.
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Old 11-29-2013, 10:46 AM   #15
Ellis Amdur
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Scott - thanks for the reference. It is always funny when Tohei or Ueshiba are described as small and frail.
BTW - this calls for a Terry Dobson story. I'd tell it in his voice:
Quote:
For a couple years, I was Tohei's guy. He actually offered to 'give' me America. I had only been studying a couple of years, but he said that I should go home and he'd make me the head of American aikido. I told him I didn't think I was ready. . . or maybe I thought America wasn't ready (heh heh). Anyway, there was this one time, Tohei took me along to a presentation he was giving to some ladies society--I don't know, flower arranging or something. So there I was, and Tohei, he had a little spiel.
"With the power of ki, I am undefeatable. Even a giant foreigner like this one is helpless against the power of ki. Stand up. Stand up. Shomen-uchi! Don't hold back. Nothing you could do could harm me."
And I was thinking, "You are my teacher, and I love you more than anyone but O-sensei, and I know you are invincible, and I won't hold back" and I came charging off the floor and I hit him right between the eyes. He stiffened like a poleaxed steer and fell over. Out. Eyes rolled back in his head.
I was just standing there, wringing my hands, thinking, "I just killed my teacher." and the ladies were all whispering and staring at me. I think he was out for thirty seconds.
Then he woke up, got to his feet, and he yells, "You idiot. Don't you know anything? You did it wrong. Hit me again!." So I tried, and this time, he threw me some way or other. Tohei was great that way. Just acted like nothing happened at all.

Last edited by Ellis Amdur : 11-29-2013 at 10:48 AM.

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Old 11-29-2013, 11:02 AM   #16
Chris Li
 
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Scott - thanks for the reference. It is always funny when Tohei or Ueshiba are described as small and frail.
Quite a few of the old Hawaii guys were surprised by how small, and how young, Tohei was when he first arrived.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2013, 03:03 PM   #17
Ellis Amdur
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Short, I'll agree - small? ---not really.

Like fighting a fireplug

E

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Old 11-29-2013, 03:29 PM   #18
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Short, I'll agree - small? ---not really.

Like fighting a fireplug

E
Next to our Samoan boys - still small. According to Kozo Kaku - only 143 pounds (65 kg) when he came to Hawaii, even in proportion to his height (5' 3") that's not very big.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2013, 03:33 PM   #19
Dazaifoo
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

I remember one of the new students watching Suenaka throw his deshi saying something like "Wow, that's a small hakama!" Good eyes there son.
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Old 11-29-2013, 03:36 PM   #20
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Well, just to be totally pedantic, Hawaiian boys, mostly (same size , though), so your point is taken.

Quote:
Samoans
The Samoan migration to Hawaii was unique in that the Samoans did not come as plantation workers and they were the only significant group of Polynesian migrants to Hawaii. The first large group of Samoans came to Hawaii in 1919 when the Mormon temple was built in Laie on Oahu's northeastern shore. In 1952 about 1,000 Samoans arrived in Hawaii. It is estimated that in the 1970s that there were more than 13,000 Samoans and part-Samoans resident in Hawaii, the majority of them on Oahu.
Still, that man is perfectly built to be a bench-press champion (short arms, barrel chest).

E

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Old 11-29-2013, 04:02 PM   #21
Dan Rubin
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

For what it's worth, at http://www.aikidojournal.com/article?articleID=640

Excerpt from "My Aikido Interlude," by Robert W. Smith,
Aikido Journal #115 (1998) (I believe that it's also in Smith's book, Martial Musings):

Despite my analytical problems with aikido, I have to assume that Ueshiba was a singular figure. The evidence for this is his top student Koichi Tohei. I first heard of Tohei at the First U.S. Judo Tournament in San Jose, California, in 1953. Some of us were chatting about the judo and one veered off with the information that an expert in something called aikido was present from Hawaii and would demonstrate his art. Rumor had it that this Tohei had defeated the top fighters of Hawaii before securing a teaching niche there.

Later, in a lull in the program, here came Tohei, a little man with a smile bigger than he was. He took the stage and submitted to varieties of insult to his person. Three big judoka simultaneously put locks on his neck and both arms. He tossed them airward with abandon. Next he demonstrated rare proficiency in stick work (bojutsu). All this was interesting and pleasant to watch. The main course, next up, left us flabbergasted. Tohei stood and invited five black belt judokas to have at him simultaneously. Fifteen lined up and five fanned out and jumped him. This was no multiple attack choreographed so that the defender had enough time and space to deal with each attacker singly. The meretricious stuff that bores and stultifies. Not a bit. The surrounding circle hit Tohei almost in unison. He moved amongst them throwing them in all directions, even into each other. Up they got, tried again, and down they went. Three were greedy and tried thrice only to hit the mat again. After that enthusiasm waned and the group desisted.

Though Tohei was said to have a high judo rank, his throws didn't resemble judo techniques. He seemed to do things like tewaza (throws using only one's hands) and wrist twists with such élan that murmurs of ki spread through the awed audience. Everything dissolved in front of his gentle rapid applications. Big Jim Nisby, a giant judoka and former California All-State footballer, one of the five attackers, attempted a driving tackle from fifteen feet. Tohei put out a light hand and stopped Jim dead in his tracks, then, in almost the same movement, pushed him into the pile of bodies. It was all marvelous.

Last edited by Dan Rubin : 11-29-2013 at 04:06 PM.
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Old 11-29-2013, 05:48 PM   #22
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Dan - thanks. I'd hope to contact Jim Nisby (he played for the Pgh Steelers in the Big Daddy Lipscomb era, and hearing stories about that was even more interesting), but sadly, he's already died.
It's yet another, fuller perspective from Smith.

But even here, I wonder how reliable is his "eye" - He writes:
Quote:
rare proficiency in stick work (bojutsu).
Tohei did not have "rare proficiency in stick work" he twirled a jo. Any majorette at any college could do far better than that, and if twirling was proficiency at bojutsu, then how about this?

Anyway, lest there be any confusion, I've no doubt whatsoever that Tohei did something marvelous - witness the accounts of those who were there, in addition to Smith.

But it all leads back to the question. Given that this was so, what about Herman??????

Best
Ellis

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Old 11-29-2013, 09:18 PM   #23
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
But it all leads back to the question. Given that this was so, what about Herman??????
Ya know... maybe Tohei was just having a bad day.

Ron

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Old 11-29-2013, 09:43 PM   #24
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post

But it all leads back to the question. Given that this was so, what about Herman??????

Best
Ellis
He could have (as was noted elsewhere) been having a bad day.

More likely, it shows how hard it really is to control someone who has no idea what they're doing without hurting them (or being willing to hurt them). All the Judo guys were used to this stuff - they knew how to protect themselves, knew when to bail, and Tohei knew that they knew, so he could just do whatever. With Herman, not so much.

If anything, it gives lie to the myth of controlling an attacker without causing injury more than it says anything about Tohei's skill level, IMO.

Best,

Chris

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Old 11-29-2013, 10:20 PM   #25
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Re: It Aint Necessarily So: Rendez-vous with Adventure by Ellis Amdur

Rare video of Herman vs a Hawaiian wrestler.
Happy Black Friday y'all!
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