All Japan Demonstration (1) – Kobayashi shihan

Part 1

In May 1960, for the first time as the Aikikai, the first demonstration was held at Yamano Hall in Shinjuku, thoroughly featuring shihan and members from all over Japan. As this was the first demonstration including primarily members from dojos from every region, we uchideshi were roaring with enthusiasm, as discussed below.

Tohei Koichi shihan wrote about the demonstration on page 170 of his book, “Nakaumura Tempu and Ueshiba Morihei – The Establishment of Ki”: ‘Once, some young deshi, Kobayashi Yasuno and Kuroiwa Yoshio, tried to take me down. It happened at a venue called Yamano Hall. Tamura (currently teaching in France) asked me, how many ukes shall he prepare for me, to which I answered, however many you want. It turned out he brought 10 ukes. Yamano Hall was a small place, so I asked, “So, they’re all going to come at me, eh?”, to which Tamura replied, “Yes, that’s right”.
By then it was too late to change anything, so we started the demonstration, and at the end commenced the multiple attack (in which one handles multiple opponents at the same time). The place was so small, that anywhere I went, there were 5 or 6 of them. There was nowhere to go. Anyway, as I’m throwing them around, ultimately one of them yelled, “Got him!”. It was like hunting prey. I was taken down and flipped on my back, held down, and everyone jumped on top. It seemed that everyone thought I was squashed underneath.
However, while everyone was piled on top of each other, I was speaking into the microphone, saying thank you to the audience. When the person had said, “Got him!”, I was already out of there. And there they were in a pile, unable to quickly get up. Right next to them, there’s Tamura standing by himself, all calm and leisurely. I grabbed his collar, said “Don’t be impudent”, and threw him on to the pile.’

At the time at Hombu Dojo, there were about 10 uchideshi living there and commuting to university or work. We uchideshi were about 20 – 25 years old, and naive and young, and at times rebellious toward our seniors.

When Tohei shihan went to the U.S. mainland to introduce aikido at a judo tournament, the announcer told everyone that aikido has multiple attacks. They had the 1st through 4th place competitors come at Tohei shihan all at once. Tohei sensei threw all of them and in one big leap made aikido famous.

For us uchideshi, Tohei sensei’s stories, in routine life or when we were drinking, were fun, and he would pay for everyone, so he was a good teacher. It was the time when one dollar was 360 yen. He would earn money in America, so he was really rich. However, in his keiko, if you didn’t do techniques and movements exactly as he taught, he would get very angry at you. At one point, we uchideshi reacted against that and searched for an opportunity to embarrass him.

The one who’d said, “Got him!” was Kuroiwa senpai, when he grabbed Tohei shihan from behind and toppled him. I was one of the people who jumped on top of them, but we were no match Tohei Koichi shihan’s ability. He was truly a strong teacher. After that, I came to be in charge of taking care of Tohei shihan, and for the next 10 years or so carried his bag, went with him to various dojos, and received his teaching. Unfortunately, on March 31, 1974, having created the new group, “Ki no kenkyukai”, he separated from Aikikai. Based on the thinking that I wanted to protect the lineage of aikido as started by Ueshiba Morihei sensei, I remained at the Aikikai. However, from having spent many years receiving Tohei shihan’s teaching, I’m coming to digest his techniques and teachings in my own way. Those teachings are even now absorbed into my mind and body.

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