Silly Sensei Stories

Date: Mon, 15 May 1995 17:03:01 -0400
From: Dennis Hooker <>
Subject: That old obi

Several years ago at a dojo in the frozen north we were presented with a peculiar problem. One day sensei showed up wearing a white obi. We in our heightened state of enlightenment quickly deduced there was some special meaning to this action. We spent a good deal of time discussing the possible ramifications if we failed to understand this action. Sensei (being Japanese) had a few peculiar ways about him and we did not wish to make a mistake. After much time and finding no one answer that satisfied all we decided to ask sensei why he wore the white obi. His answer was. Oh, I lost the other one.

Date: Sun, 13 Aug 1995 12:49:40 PDT
From: "Julian M. Frost" <>
Subject: Shuriken-jutsu... the story!

I've been asked by a number of people to tell the story about why Shuriken-jutsu was stopped at Hombu Dojo. It's easier if I just post the story... so here it is:

O Sensei used to teach Shuriken Jutsu to the uchi deshi. After a lesson, they would practise on their own. Practise usually consisted of standing about two feet away from a piece of tatami and throwing from there so that they could learn how much effort to put into it to avoid the Shuriken from spinning. Gradually they would move back further from the tatami.

Well, there was one uchi deshi, who was pretty good at this. "I won't tell you who it was," Chiba Sensei said, "but it wasn't me!!". There was a big grin on his face when he said this! This uchi deshi talked the very young Waka Sensei to stand with his back to the tatami, arms and legs spread apart, just like a knife-thrower's assistant!!

So Waka Sensei stood there, and this young uchi deshi proceeded to throw Shuriken all around his body... Except for one, which went straight into Waka Sensei's leg.

It came as quite a shock to the uchi deshi to see this happen... what would O Sensei say!!

The uchi deshi responsible for the accident talked Waka Sensei into agreeing not to tell O Sensei or "the great madam" (O Sensei's wife). In exchange he would get some chocolate. Chocolate was very expensive and quite rare at that time in Japan.

Everything went well, and Waka Sensei was able to keep the wound hidden for a week or more, but then it became infected. Eventually of course, the great madam found out, and all hell broke loose!

O Sensei was, apparently, extremely angry and demanded to be told who threw the Shuriken into Waka Sensei's leg. He pressured Waka Sensei until he eventually told who the uchi deshi was. The study of Shuriken Jutsu was banned from that point on.

Since that time, Chiba Sensei, though he loved Waka Sensei dearly, always had a twinge an ill-feeling about this event. Waka Sensei had given his word of honor that he wouldn't tell who threw the Shuriken... but he broke his word.

In 1989, as the USAF Western Region Summer Camp in San Diego, Waka Sensei and Chiba Sensei were having a few drinks together, when they started to talk about this event and consequently the ill feeling that Chiba Sensei held for Waka Sensei vanished. It turned out that Waka Sensei never received the chocolate!!!! :-)

Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 08:29:05 -0700
From: Krystal Locke <>
Subject: Re: Perceptive Differences

My Sensei, Michael Friedl, was teaching a seminar somewhere, he wouldn't tell me where, a few years ago. He discovered that he forgot his belt, black of course, back at where he was staying, but he always has extra white belts in his bag. He was just starting to put on his spare white belt, alone in the dressing room, when someone walked in, brand new stiff gi, himself, saw some stranger putting on an obviously stiff new white belt, and proceded to tell Michael how to tie his belt! DOH! Michael, being _such_ a nice guy, let him finish his instructions, said thanks, and waited for the guy to leave the dressing room to put on his hakama and come out to start class. He said the look on the guy's face as he saw the newbie he helped dress come out of the dressing room, everyone stop and bow to him, and clap to get the class to line up. Wish I'd been there!

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 09:26:49 -0500
From: Terry Roberts <TerRoberts@AOL.COM>
Subject: Re: catching/embarassing your teacher

On the thread of senseis being human:

Last night after we bowed in, Homma Sensei told us to sit comfortably (the sign that he was going to talk for a while -- this was at the monthly class for 3rd kyus and above, where he catches us up on dojo business and talks about whatever). While we sat comfortably, he remained in seiza as he talked. After about a half hour of this, we did a few roll-backs, and then Sensei called someone up for a demonstration. Partway through the demonstration, he stopped it and started staggering around the mat with a funny look on his face. Turns out his feet were starting to tingle from having been asleep. So it even happens to Japanese senseis, too!

Homma Sensei's phrase for when he flubs a technique is "Sometimes even monkeys fall from trees."

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 08:12:41 PST
From: "Joshua Stein (Volt Comp)" <a-joshs@MICROSOFT.COM>
Subject: Re: catching/embarassing your teacher

Sensei was demonstrating kasa with jo. He was saying to make it a large movement like you were trying to throw the jo away. Jo slipped out of his hands rotating and spinning and bounced across both the mats in our dojo and embedded itself in the opposite wall. We had a Sensei Memorial Hole on the Wall until we repaired and repainted this summer.

Date: Fri, 8 Dec 1995 11:36:28 -0800
From: Jeff Frane <>
Subject: Re: catching/embarassing your teacher

We had a somewhat similar accident (although Sensei was striking tsuki to the rear when it happened), but Sensei insisted we not patch the hole. Punched right into a cinder block, too. Makes a nice effect, kind of like bullet holes.

Date: Tue, 12 Dec 1995 19:00:23 +0000
From: "Tim G. Griffiths" <t.griffiths@IC.AC.UK>
Subject: Re: catching/embarassing your teacher

In days of yore I remember...

During a big multi-art demo, Sensei has been doing an iai kata, but we notice that as he finishes he doesn't bring his left hand away from the sword, but leaves it cupped under the tsuka. He then walks to the mike and says something like "Now /name/ will demonstrate /blah/", which wasn't in the plan, still apparently holding onto the sword. Then he bows and leaves the mat, just as the pool of blood in his hand overflows and starts dripping down his hakima.
Sheathing the blade /without/ cutting through the web of your hand was something we practiced regularly from then on..

Date: Thu, 9 May 1996 12:07:16 -0700
From: "Joshua Stein (Volt Comp)" <>
Subject: Re: Bokken and Jo Question

>From: Jeff Frane[SMTP:jfrane@TELEPORT.COM] >Sent: Thursday, May 09, 1996 8:28 AM
>To: Multiple recipients of list Aikido-L >Subject: Re: Bokken and Jo Question >
>>but I
>>heard a great story about Chiba Sensei's Iaido teacher, whose name >>escapes me (he's the fellow in the photographs in the Japanese >>Swordsmanship book). At any rate, he's getting up there, probably in >>his late 60s or early 70s, little bitty guy. During an iaido demonstration, >>he placed the katana on his right, then while still in seiza, hopped over >>the sword (still in seiza), picked it up, drew and cut in the space of > >a few seconds.
>>--Jeff Frane

If Chiba Sensei's Iaido teacher is the same as my Sensei's
(Bookman Sensei) then his name is Mitsazuke(sp?) Sensei.
My iaido teacher, Patrick Johnson, told us a riotous tale
gained from Bookman Sensei. Apparently he and the rest of
the students showed up one day for class and were waved
off the mat by Mitsazuke Sensei. He then proceeded to do
the Omori Ryu Shoden kata of our school, Muso Shinden Ryo.
It was about 10 minutes into the kata before it dawned on
Bookman Sensei (and the other students, I suspect) that
Mitsazuke Sensei was doing them perfectly IN MIRROR
IMAGE with the LEFT hand!

As regards "hopped over the sword" Mitsazuke Sensei has said
that 'Batto', the last kata in the above, in which the sword in
drawn and immediately cut shomen is a cut of the person
BEHIND iaite whom one has to go OVER (from suwari waza).
This is equivalent to jumping over someone from your knees
while drawing and cutting. He has demonstrated this. And
he is in his early eighties if my memory serves me (being in
my mid forties ;->).

Date: Mon, 4 Nov 1996 22:58:01 -0600
From: Crazy <>

Subject: Re: A little review of a big seminar

>Having been publicly humiliated by Shibata Sensei and having finally achieved >"Huh. Much better." I can offer the following suggestions: <snip>
>Fourthly: When sitting in line at seminars, hide behind large people in the >hopes that Shibata Sensei won't call on you. :-))) Actually, two distinct schools of thought developed on that point.

The first one was of the opinion that it was better to sit behind large people. The other group contented that the safest approach would be to sit as far away as possible. Only the truly wise realized that the best solution to "being called for ukemi by Shibata Sensei" is to sit behind large people as far away as possible! Unfortunately, that old saying that you can run but you can't hide is very true. If he wanted you, he found you! The trick is not to be wanted. Yet, it seemed that Shibata Sensei wanted Peter very badly, since he called on him all the time.

...Which reminds me of a story I recently heard, supposedely told by Peter Bernath. It was back in the old days, when they were bunch of 20 year old fools, all of 'em uchideshi at New York Aikikai to Yamada Sensei. They were in a constant state of excitement and tried to aggrevate the hell out of each other any way they could. All of 'em st00pid pranks, practical jokes, like firecrackers exploding, buckets of water falling on your head, fake phone calls ...all this stuff. So, one day someone calls at the dojo and in a broken English tries to explain that he is at the airport with Doshu and he needs somone to come by and pick them up. The guy who answered the call (Peter's friend, supposedely) thought that this is another one of their jokes, that somone was pulling his leg, so he answered: "Oh yeah?!? Well, lemme tell you something, I'm right now with O Sensei drinking my coffee and we can't be bothered with Doshu. Take a hike!" :-)))) Turns out, Doshu *was* at the airport! Turns out, the person that had called was Shibata Sensei! Ooops!!! or, as they say around here, holy shit! Hehe. Now, when I watch Shibata demonstrating on Peter all kinds of nasty nikyo variations... well, it just makes me wonder if he ever bought that "friend" story and if 20 years is long enough time to forget. Hehehe.

The moral of that story is: don't ever answer the dojo phone!!

Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 17:59:51 -0500
From: Darrell Tangman <>
Subject: Re: Behavior when taking ukemi from Sensei...

> Has anyone ever outright CLOCKED their Sensei or a visiting Sensei?

A friend who came to Aikido with a black belt in karate told me about accidentally hitting one of the shihan, who turned to explain something to the class just as my friend launched a punch. He was fairly sure he had just killed his first shihan, but the shihan just turned to him and said, in essence, "No fair punching while I'm talking to the class," and went on with his explanation.

Date: Mon, 25 Nov 1996 22:46:05 -0600
From: Crazy <>
Subject: Re: Behavior when taking ukemi from Sensei...

Funny thing how we get concerned with things that were a serious concern to people who were doing Aikido 30 years ago. It reminds me of the story Terry Dobson used to tell about his own doubts if O Sensei could handle an earnest attack. His thinking was something along the line that if push came to shove, he'd just clean the clock of that ol' fool and that's all there is to it. None of that mystical mumbo-jumbo shit would help any. So one day, I guess he was in the wrong mood, he went: "fuck it, I'm going for it" (in his own words), with the decision that once he knocks the ol' man down, he'd just give up Aikido and go away. So Terry goes all out for it, thinking he's gonna kill O Sensei with that first punch and ...well, lands real hard and real fast. O Sensei never knew it. He was, like, good attack... whatever. :-))) But everybody who had ever taken ukemi for O Sensei tells pretty much the same story. You 're scared not to give him your best, yet you're scared at the same time cleaning his clock. At one point you just learned to go for broke and hope for the best. Apparently, it worked.

> Has anyone ever outright CLOCKED their Sensei or a visiting Sensei?

I haven't. I have seen shihan taking a lot of grief on grips though. See, if you wanna test a shihan, the safest way to do is by a grab. Well, aparently a lot of people are in the business of testing them shihan all the time. And typically they are 220 lbs and up, over 6 feet monsters, and they aren't that uncommon. I see at least two of those on every seminar I go.

I saw Shibata somehow having a problem with one of 'em monsters, doing ushiro katatetori technique. Obviously, he's had enough of a technique to make it work every single time with just a bit of extra movement, starting a bit early, but he wanted to do it from a very static position, when uke is truly centered and settled. The guy was huge and you could see by the expression on his face that he was holding on for dear life. The only way to let him losen his grip is to position a half a dozen people with bats in their hands behind him and have them beat the living shit outa him. He just wasn't gonna let go. So Shibata worked with him for awhile, twisted here, twisted there, finally he got him. Then, he looked at him with a rather soft expression on his face, obviously pleased, and had him grab again. That guy was too exhausted to give the same effort, but he went for it again. This time Shibata did it off the first try. He never bothered with a technique. Just the first move - unlocking the hands, the kokyu part. Then he left, very calm and ...well, kinda happy looking. :-))

I've seen Ikeda do practially the very same thing, with a very similar type of uke.

I suppose, they really enjoy picking on them huge people, fully knowing they're gonna get grief, yet wanting to improve their own technique. At least, that's the way I read it. I'd say that it takes a lot of balls and a lot of sincerety to be doing this in front in few hundred people who think you're God reincarnated. It's good to see this sort of practice, it really is.

...Actually, it may be that they don't have a problem at all doing those things. It maybe that they're looking for something, trying to do stuff that we just ain't getting, watching from the outside. It's really hard to know.

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 09:37:45 -0600
From: Crazy <>
Subject: Re: Behavior when taking ukemi from Sensei...

I remember a friend of mine being a complete pain in the ass with Shibata. He is a beginner in Aikido, but he's been doing boxing for awhile and currently is still working through the typical "Is this Aikido shit for real? I mean, if I really, really give grief to someone, would they be able to handle it?" and this sort of nonesense. So Shibata points to him, Kevin latches on and suddenly gets very red in the face. The guy put his whole being into holding on. He almost had a vain pop out on him - so much effort did he put into it. He ain't that big either. He's just as stubborn as a mule :-)) Well, the fall wasn't pretty and Kevin was rubbing his wrist for weeks afterwards, but he was happy. He had at least one question answered for him. :-)) Shibata told him something like "Don't resist with your head. Resist with your center!" I guess, as straining to hold on, Kevin was sticking his head out or something of that nature. The guy was always running around, checking different dojo, talking about Wing Chun, Jiujitsu this, Judo that... trying to make his mind if he wanted to stay with Aikido. Well, he ain't going any place now. :-))

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 17:27:42 -5
From: Susan Shapiro <>

Subject: Re: Behavior when taking ukemi from Sensei...

> Has anyone ever outright CLOCKED their Sensei or a visiting Sensei?

No...but I saw it happen...with a bokken, no Chiba Sensei, no less.

Interestingly enough, it was also an issue of how do you know how hard to attack a sensei...

I was at a seminar about years ago at Paul Sylvain's dojo (rest in peace, Paul) in Northampton, MA. Chiba Sensei was the visiting sensei. He was using a new black belt as uke. No names, but you know who you are C****e!!!:-).

At one point, Chiba Sensei was demonstrating defense from a shomen cut on ukes' part. When uke strikes down at your head, slide to the side, raise bokken to cover your head (hilt up/ point down) and let ukes' blade strike and slide down yours. He was going at a good clip and apparently decided to demo it slowly.

He turned to his uke and told her "OK, not so fast." Which she heard as "OK, go fast."

Welllll, she gathered all her internal resources and came in like a freight train....

Chiba sensei was moseying through the techinique - so we could all see exactly what was what - and had just gotten through the slide to side part when he saw the train...

Oh boy! Get to see the man go REALLY FAST through the raise bokken to cover head part!

Get to see sensei not quite make it! Her bokken slid down his covering blade OK but it gave his shoulder a nasty crack on the way down 'cause he hadn't the time to swing his blade over to cover his shoulder as well as his head.

Uke hit the mat in seiza in a bow so low I thought she was going to melt through the mat.

She stayed there, too, face flat on the mat while Chiba Sensei lowered his bokken, clapped his smarting shoulder, turned around in a complete circle and announced to the ceiling in a resigned voice: "Ohhhh.... I really HATE it when that happens....."

We then got a lecture on using restraint with a bokken so that "your knuckles don't end up like mine!" as Chiba Sensei put it.

My guess is that most senseis have had the experience of getting clocked. Chiba Sensei certainly has.

By the way, no lasting damage.....

Date: Tue, 26 Nov 1996 21:27:17 -0500
From: John Glinatsis <JG1040@AOL.COM>

Subject: Re: Behavior when taking ukemi from Sensei...

Long ago in a galaxy far far away there was a 5th kyu who was the highest ranking Aikidoka in this area. This fellow was uke for the visiting shihan in this area when that particular shihan came around (not the only uke but one of the only instructors of Aikido here. This would be about 1972-73, and one night at a semminar this particular uke stepped on the Shihans hakama by mistake while taking ukemi and the shihan fell flat on his ass!!!!!! The story goes that the visitng shihan went out side and smoked a couple of cigaretes and came back in and started bouncing this poor 5th kyu off the floor so hard that the guy was almost sure he was going to die.

The moral of the story is that although these guys are supposed to be full of love and all that other crap that some people have made themselves believe they also have bad days where they get pissed off and I for one don't want to be the one that bonks them on the head and is the object of their wrath.

On the other side of the story several people who train here and were around in the old days wittnessed Saotome sensei get hit in the head by a jo once and he just smiled and said thanks to the uke for pointing out the hole in his tecnique.

Date: Mon, 2 Dec 1996 14:10:49 -0600
From: Crazy <>
Subject: Re: Names

>The sensei's point (I do believe there was one) was, of course, the >inverse-pretension that Ivan's original post suggested - the kamiza >calligraphy (if it ever gets done) will no-doubt look beautiful to the >illiterate eye... But then this sensei has for as long as I have known >him told us that the calligraphy on his hakama (arranged as a gift from >a "friend") might actually say "this way up" rather than his name.

This reminds me of a J.J. story. (J.J. is one of our prolific and more ...interesting, read "strange" members. Of course, we have so many of them 'interesting' members that ...well, that's a different story.) Anyway, after tattooing the Mortal Combat dragons on his chest (two beatiful tattooes, 2 inch radius each), J. J. decided to commemorate his Aikido training with a tattoo. So he went ahead and put a big three kanji Aikido sign right on his belly. Now, since he's got a big belly, his gi never closes enough in front, so his hairy belly with that Aikido tattoo is on prominent display every time he trains.

On one of them seminars, Yamada sees the tattoo and goes: "Yo, J. J., what is THAT??" And J. J. proudly exclaims: "Why, sensei, this is Aikido!" And Yamada says: "Yeah, but why do you have them kanji turned around? They are all backwards!" At this point J. J. completely panicks. He's like: "Oh my God, that sonofabitch had turned them all around and now I have mispelled kanji on myself. I'll go back and kill the dumbass!!" Well, Yamada can't keep it up and starts laughing and to J. J.'s great relief, it turns out that it was one of them "shihan jokes" and everything is spelled just right.

Kanji can be tricky. And so can shihan.

Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 12:59:49 -0500
From: Gene McGloin <Yapburg@WORLDNET.ATT.NET>
Subject: Re: Aikido = S&M (Re: Eleph

This thread reminds me of one fun night practicving after class with Ken Nisson sensei. There's an S&M club next to the Bond St. Dojo and one night this timid guy opens the door just a little bit, sticks his head inside and asks "Is this the S&M club?" to which Nisson replys, without missing a beat, "No, but come on in. We'll beat you up & give ya a drink!" Guy promptly runs away!

Date: Thu, 13 Mar 1997 18:50:15 -0600
From: Crazy <>

Subject: Re: Illegal ?

>On Thu, 13 Mar 1997, Mike [insert quote here] Bartman wrote: >
>> OK, George, how about the time the security lady wouldn't let a guy through >> the checkpoint because he had a pocket knife? I know, I know, this is less >> questionable, usually, but this guy was the PILOT! What was he going to >> do? Hijack *himself*?!?

That reminds me of a "Chiba story".
Chiba Sensei is about to fly off to a seminar and yes - I think it was Canada. He's got an entourage of five or six deshi, omoto, and so forth. They're carrying all the luggage and he's carrying a sword. So they come to the check point and he marches straight through, not even looking at the cops. They, however, want to know what's the "thing" he's carrying. He curtly says "a sword" and keeps marching forward. Cops say "wow, can't take it on the plane - we need to have it". Chiba Sensei answers "Come and take it then!" Cops panick, bunch of 'em pile up, form a cordon in front of him, whistles are blowing and so forth. Major emergency. Chiba Sensei assumes a low, relaxed stance with sword ready and murder in his eyes. (You see, it's the family jewel - can't let some pukie cops handle the family sword.) The deshi freak out, get between the two quarreling parties and say "Hold! Someone WILL get killed. We need to talk!" So they ask to see a high level supervisor. Cops are not too eager to mix it up with Chiba Sensei so they relent. Deshis explain situation: it's a treasure he's holding in his hands, he won't let you have it, he'd kill someone for sure if you try to take it by force, he's crazy, trust us on this!... just let him through. Supervisor is not stupid - he agrees. Chiba Sensei walks on plane with his sword. End of story. :-))

Don't know how factual this is, but I tell it as I heard it.

Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 12:04:11 GMT0BST
From: Jonathan Diesch <cvsjpd@SOUTH-01.NOVELL.LEEDS.AC.UK>
Subject: Re: Kihon, strength, and idealism

> >     3)  How much strength is required in "ideal Aikido?"
> >     4)  How much strength should you try to develop?

Some years ago (before my time) when Chiba sensei was the head of the British Aikido Federation he had a little question and answer session after training at the summer school.

From the back pipes-up a quiet (slightly nervous) voice "Errr...Sensei, we are always hearing how Aikido should not use any physical strength, but I have, errrr..., noticed that you seem to be quite errm .... ...vigorous when you throw people.... so do you think we should be using perhaps a little more strength, erm possibly.... ?"

Sensei replies "Why not!?"

Date: Fri, 11 Apr 1997 12:48:19 -0700
From: Julian Frost <>
Subject: Re: Kihon, strength, and idealism

Absolutely! Chiba Sensei is constantly telling beginners not to use strength. Later, he has been heard saying that you should not "deny" your strength... meaning, I believe, exactly what Johnathon says above: You should not rely on it to get the techniques to work.

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 1997 14:42:26 EDT
From: Patrick Lynch <>
Subject: Killing Shihan Rumors

While this may be an entertaining thread, much like the story of Chiba and his sword a while back, I simply do not believe the rumors about Fujita Shihan.

There is a certain concept of accountability, even in Japan. If an uke were to die during a demonstration, the high ranking instructor who is expected to have both skill and control, would be held responsible. Reasonably, someone might get away with it - once, by calling it a fluke accident, but by the second time, you would have a Shihan in jail for murder.

I have been in a Fujita class only ONCE - about 5 years ago. Fujita came to Hombu (he doesn't usually teach there, although he is considered a "Hombu Shihan) as a substitute for Tada who was off in Italy.

We were doing shihonage (I can't remember the attack), and I was deliberately giving my partner a hard time. I was being hard on him because a) he was my friend and b) he wasn't unbalancing me.

Well, Fujita sees me not taking ukemi as readily as I might, so he comes over to "help". He takes my partner and begins to demonstrate the technique on him. Once he had the shihonage completed to just before the take down, he goes: "If you are having trouble at this point, do this...". With those words, he plows his shoulder into my unsuspecting partners face. My partner goes down hard - blood shooting from his nose and mouth, and Fujita calmly goes off to "Help" someone else.

I would also like to point out that Mr. Ikeda, a current uchi-deshi not to be confused with Ikeda Shihan of Boulder fame, is a primary uke for Fujita when he teaches in and around Tokyo. In the last five years Mr. Ikeda has had his front tooth knocked out, two fingers broken, and all to frequently spots a black eye. If he wasn't so big, I'd say he looks like a battered women. Of course Ikeda just shrugs it off as "part of the job". To each his own.

On other non-classroom occasions when I've run into Fujita, he's always acted like a nice, polite gentleman.

Based on my experiences, as illustrated above, I have chosen not to seek out further instruction by Fujita. However, that is my personal decision. I know several people who both like him and enjoy his classes. So I would conclude that he is not a killer, but his technique tends to be harsher than that of most.

As for Yamaguchi (9th Dan) being a killer, Yamaguchi Shihan (R.I.P.) was famous for his very soft but effective style, and, in my opinion, one of the least likely candidates for a bad reputation.

As for Arikawa (9th Dan) being a killer, I don't believe that one either. He his well known for his hard techniques, and gives his favorite uke (a 6'3" Englishman) quite a workout, but I've never seen him go to the point of injuring anyone. Arikawa is a very serious teacher and student of Budo. If you go to a martial arts demonstration in the Tokyo area, it's very likely that you'll see him sitting somewhere in the background quietly videotaping the proceedings. You could almost say that if he doesn't show up - it wasn't an event worth going to. Anyhow, all this "cross-studying" makes for an interesting class, since on occasion he will mix in some special non-standard moves into his demonstration.

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 1997 20:38:30 EDT
From: Charles D Hauk <hauk@JUNO.COM>
Subject: Re: Favorite Stories (was Re: Fujita Sensei)

There's been a thread exploring the idea of anyone being killed during Aikido practice. One of my favorite (Aikido legends?) stories follows: (This one's for you, J.)

Supposedly, one of Saotome Sensei's students once asked him, "Sensei, has anyone ever been killed in Aikido training?"

Saotome Sensei says convincingly, "Kill? Die? Oh no, no, never die!"

The student then replies, "Oh?... because I heard that Abe Sensei killed someone doing shiho-nage..."

Sensei looks at the student, thinks about it, and says, " time!"

Date: Sun, 13 Apr 1997 18:12:35 -0700
From: Jun Akiyama <>
Subject: Re: Favorite Stories (was Re: Fujita Sensei)

On Sun, 13 Apr 1997, Charles D Hauk wrote: > There's been a thread exploring the idea of anyone being killed during > Aikido practice. One of my favorite (Aikido legends?) stories follows: > (This one's for you, J.)

A story about Saotome sensei that I just heard last Friday from one of his senior students went like this:

Saotome sensei, along with a few of his senior students, goes out after practice one evening. During dinner, one of his students asks sensei whether or not some of the stories about him during his younger days were true.

Sensei asks, "Which stories?"

The students then asks, as an example, whether he and Chiba sensei really went out after practice to bars and other places where ruffians hung out to fight and, basically, test their mettle.

Saotome sensei turns, shakes his head, and says, "No, no. I'm afraid that isn't true at all."

As the student turns away to join another conversation, Saotome sensei slyly looks up toward the ceiling and whispers, "That was Kanai and me."

Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 00:51:55 EDT
From: Patrick Lynch <>
Subject: "Piston" Horiguchi

I believe it was spring of 1988 when Shioda Sensei did a demo on Japanese TV. After flipping 4 uke for a while, he stopped to exchange a few words with the announcer. The announcer proceeded to grab Shioda and ask what he would do if attacked like this. Without hesitation, Shidoa put an atemi into the announcer's face that sent him flying :-))

Date: Wed, 9 Jul 1997 13:24:54 -0700
From: Jun Akiyama <>
Subject: Re: Kote-gaeshi & Breakfall

A story I heard at the ASU camp last week from a pretty high ranking instructor:

"One of my sensei was recalling a time when he was uke for his sensei during a three person randori. He said that the randori was very, very short -- only three attacks, one from each uke. After the randori, one uke couldn't talk, another couldn't lift, and the other was 'asleep.' In other words, the first uke had his jaw dislocated, the second had his elbow dislocated, and the third was knocked out. My sensei was the third person -- the one that was knocked out; that was Ikeda sensei. The person doing the randori was Saotome sensei."

My feelings are that there's a fine line between practicing with uke and being abusive. If I'm working with someone who is obviously inexperienced with taking certain kinds of ukemi, I will be gentle with them and only "push" their ukemi to what I would call "healthy discomfort." With people whom I know can really take ukemi, I would make sure first they're doing OK that night (no injuries, no feeling tired, no jet lag from flying in from Washington DC) and then work appropriately.

Richard Moon sensei up in Marin has said that he works with _everyone_ in the same manner. He just works more slowly with beginners...

Date: Fri, 11 Jul 1997 13:47:53 -0400
From: "Chiappetta, Mark" <>
Subject: Re: Pain

Reminds me of a seminar with Chiba Sensei about a month or so ago. During the mudansha only class, Chiba Sensei asked, "OK, what would you like to work on?" Some overzealous beginner said, "Uhh.....Sensei, how about nikyo!" Those with a little more experience cringed and Chiba Sensei laughed and said, "You haven't been doing this long....have you?" :)

Date: Tue, 22 Jul 1997 13:21:37 -0600
Subject: Notes on Ukemi and teaching technique via e-mail...

Homma Sensei recently had Stanley Pranin talk on O Sensei at Aikido Nippon Kan. He prefaced Mr. Pranin's remarks with a story about some zen priests... This is basically the general gist as best I can remeber it... Two young initiates of zen had recently finished at seminary and were celebrating by drinking sake. They had forgotten that the Master of the temple would be coming by to congratulate them and when he arived they were drunk. The master asked what they had been doing. The young priest replied "We have studied the way of zen and had many great discussions and to celbrate our new found understanding of zen we are drinking sake." "No" replied the master "you have been eating sake cusk" (sake cusk is the left over rice mash that make one drunk but is pretty vile, not real sake) "NO, NO, no master! Here, see this is sake just like our zen, it is pure sake!" "No" relpied the master, "It is sake cusk, just like you do not understand the real zen"

Homma Sensei went on to say that all of the chatter on the internet is sake cusk, not real Aikido. To have the real heart, flavor, substance of something you have to experience it. To him Mr. Pranin and his research on O Sensei was indeed sake just like being on the mat is sake. Discussions can be helpful and enlightening but all of this prattle about how to fall, how to throw... etc. is best done on the mat with a qualified instructor. IMHO it too often becomes sake cusk.

And just to set the record straight, I am not a member of Nippon Kan and this is just as I remeber it. If Emily is still on the list perhaps she can correct my errors. However I will say that Homma Sensei is a very good teacher and wonderful Aikidoist and I think we should all at least think about his opinion. I, for one, agree with him.

Date: Wed, 24 Dec 1997 14:12:33 -0500
From: Dennis Hooker <>
Subject: Re: little did we know...(off-topic)Sorry Krystal

Several years ago when I lived in Pensacola Fl. A TKD teacher, (old school one of the first martial arts teachers in west Florida) Mr. Jack Motley was sitting in his dojo when a bad guy came in with a knife. He wanted Mr. Matley's money. When the News Paper interviewed Jack about this they ask. "So Mr. Motley what was the first thing you did when the robber came in" Jack said "I looked up to heaven and said thank you god".

Date: Sat, 7 Feb 1998 10:20:49 -0500
From: "George N. Simcox" <kimas@EROLS.COM>
Subject: Tohei Moved a Glass

In 1977 I was THERE when Tohei picked up a glass of beer in a small Japanese Restaurant in New York City and drank it down during the course of a conversation with Yamada. Of course I have seen him move glasses at other times but this was the most memorable.

Back to the case in point: During his many lectures one of the stories he likes to tell is one about when he went to see a Japanese Master and found him sitting in a chair, glowering (my word for the expression on Tohei's face during the story telling) at a glass which was setting on the table. When Tohei asked the master what he was dong he replied that he was trying to move the glass with his mind. Tohei replied that that was easy so the master asked him to demonstrate. Tohei reached out and moved the glass with his hand. The master commented: "You used your hand!" to which Tohei replied: "Mind moves the body so mind moved the glass, using the body to do so." Every body chuckles and the class moves along to a discussion of mind-body coordination for maximum efficiency of motion.

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 1998 15:40:43 -0500
From: Jill/Jilda Green <Aikido@VICON.NET>
Subject: Re: Atemi...vulnerable areas

ON this same line of thought/humor:

Once in S. Maruyama's original dojo in downtown Philly - somewhat rough neighborhood, bus station, porno stores (the usual ) tough -lookingh character same up with Nunchukai (sp?). He was swinging them around in the visitors area and when Sensei got off the mat to talk with him, he asked the proverbial "Do you teach weapons here?". Sensei smiled and feigned confusion, asking what the nunchukai were (Sensei was allegedly also a sandan in shotokan so this was a little funny for starters) and if he could look at them. He then launched into a riff about chopsticks , asking the guy how he managed to eat with them when they were so thick and mimicking trying to do so. He commmented that they were very strange for chopsticks and not very practical as such. he pointed out that in Japan they had "much pointier" chopsticks that were far better for picking up rice. The visitor thanked Sensei and left shaking his head. covinced I am sure that Sensei was really ignorant of weapons or crazy. For those of us practicing on that end of the mat , we had all we could manage keeping up the workout and not ROTFL. This was back in the 70's and not a lot of us who were there that night remain but boy the memory of that did-priceless and much more so actually overhearing the whole exchange.

Date: Tue, 5 May 1998 10:04:43 +0800
From: Cito Maramba <idcm@lagundi.CPH.UPM.EDU.PH>
Subject: Re: No Touch-Aikido (fwd)

On Mon, 4 May 1998, Brian Baquiran <brianbaquiran@USA.NET> wrote

> I recently saw a tape of what seemed to be an Aikido convention in the > budokan. Moriteru Ueshiba was there, as was this old bald japanese > fellow who would stare at his ukes and they'd fall as if he'd hit them. > Didn't perform a single technique, just sort of glared at his attacking > ukes in randori.
> I don't doubt it's BS. But I'm just sort of shocked that some people do > this and get away with it.
> --
> Brian Baquiran // Linux hacker for hire > "I want an Internet. Can I have one of those?" -- Spice Girl Mel B., > aka Scary Spice, pointing to a monitor during an AOL press conference

The sensei in question was Watanabe Sensei, from Aikikai Hombu Dojo.

Another Bill (Thomas, I believe) wrote to Aikido-L a while bach about his experience taking uke from Watanabe Sensei. To make a long story short, Bill decided not to fall for Watanabe Sensei's "no-touch" throws. He was determined to connect with his yokomen-uchi to "cueball sensei's" head, any glaring looks notwithstanding. Watanabe sensei stepped to the side and gave a swift, powerful right cross to Bill's jaw! While Bill saw stars, Watanabe sensei then gave the softest shiho-nage you could imagine, cackling all the while.

I guess Watanabe sensei saves the no-touch stuff for "trained" uke who have been hit before and don't wish to repeat the experience.

Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 13:19:09 -0500
From: Wendy Gunther <>
Subject: Re: Swish, Swish

(From Wendy's Jim)
This must be "Old Book Day". Tohei Sensei's first book in English was titled something like "Aikido: The Fifty Arts of Self Defense", or some such. Yokomanuchi Shihonage was a different "art" from Shomenuchi Shihonage. I believe the intent was to distinguish between "art" and "technique" in the same way that "Do" is distinguished from "Jutsu". Some schools keep the term "art".

Kuroiwa Sensei use to say that when he started Aikido some 50 years ago, there were 100 arts; after 20 years he realized that there were only 10 arts, the others being variations. After 30 years, he realized that there were only 3 arts, so he really worked on them. Now, he knows that there is only *one* art in Aikido, so he does that one all the time. It only looks different to us.

JIM, the wolves have as many "arts" as teeth, beneath my window in Memphis.

Date: Fri, 30 Oct 1998 09:04:05 -0700
From: Neil McKellar <mckellar@CS.UALBERTA.CA>
Subject: Re: Another war story/ Why's it work wrong?

Rob writes:
> He stood up (3 inches taller than me - ooops) and grabbed my wrist, > I looked at him, looked down at my wrist and burst out > laughing... it just seemed funny that someone had actually done > this. He got confused and let go.

I remember once going for lunch with a group of people when I was training with Bob Zimmerman in Toronto. We ordered our food and, when it came out, they brought Zimmerman Sensei the wrong item. He insisted it would be okay, but the waitress wanted very much to replace it.

He reached for the plate and she grabbed his wrist to keep him from taking it. The *whole* table went completely quiet. He looked up at her with an expression very similar to what I have seen him use when working with beginners (and I had less than a year's experience when I trained with him so I saw it a lot). I still wonder what she thought as she let go. And I wonder what he would have done if she *hadn't* let go.