Hi Ben,It's good to read Chris's perspective from the (Toshio?) Osaka side. I gather he was from Nihon University as was Kurobane.
Bob - regarding the 'dysfunction', it's difficult to get a perspective on this from here - its seems to be something between you and Ajari and if some of it is private is probably best left that way. I think we've got the gist that you're not exchanging Christmas and Birthday cards anymore! If you don't mind me asking though, when did you split from him and join Takagi sensei? Ajari must have have done those video's with Tsunami back in the early 90's so presumably it was around then?
I'd be very interested to hear more from Floyd Smith or Lenny Bennet if they are ameniable to joining this forum.
Perhaps people haven't heard much of Floyd Smith,until you mentioned him there. I thought he was stationed there in the 50's but if it was the late 40's then, if he ever saw Otsuka sensei in that period, he must have seen him at his peak. Suzuki Tatsuo mentioned that some foreign servicemen made it to the Tokyo dojo's but that most of them didn't stay around very long.
Exchanging Christmas cards. That is a good one. I will send him one this year. Most everyone in Japan thinks Ajari is a lunatic.
I am not the only one. He sends out nonsense letters to the everyone in Wado.
In the most recent letter he formally lodged with the Wadokai, he blasted Shimura for incorrectly teaching the 43rd movment of Kushanku at a seminar that Ajari did not even attend! Poor Shimura. He had to defend himself from the rantings of a lunatic and President Kondo told Shimura to write a rebuttal. Shimura refused. He was not going to dignify the accusations with a response. The 43rd movement of kushanku? Ajari is busting his balls for that? I don't even know what the 43rd move is quite honestly. How does Ajari know when he wasn't even there?
In the same letter he blasted Arakawa Sensei for misteaching kihon kumite number 6 at the Technical seminar in Nagoya. Minor problem. Well, two actually. One, Ajari was not at the seminar. Two, Toru Arakawa NEVER taught kihon kumite 6. Hilarious. But he sent the letter to the President of the Wadokai, the Chairman of the Wadokai. the board, the management...you can't make this stuff up. Unlike Shimura, Arakawa Sensei just shakes his head. Perhaps it has something to do with wisdom and old age? Ajari is 80 some years old, walks around with a pony tail and thinks he is the reincarnation of a samurai. He is the great karate master supreme.
Even Suzuki Sensei slammed Ajari in his autobiography. Ajari is mental. But here is the thing. Ajari may be delusional but he does not steal or cheat. Doesn't everyone have a crazy Uncle? David Chambers won't have anything to do with Ajari after their short lived business venture. David's wife who is a delightful Japanese lady, asked me if Ajari was insane and I roared with laugher. And you would let this man take over Wado in your country?
Ajari retired from karate in 1990. He quit. I had found the Otsuka/Ajari tapes in the dojo one day while I was cleaning (I took over Ajari's dojo) and I decided to hand them over to David Chambers. I found it but it obviously did not belong to me. It was Ajari's. He had just tossed them into a corner and forgot about them. I'm the first to admit I did not have the cleanest dojo storage area so odd things would pop up every now and then. David was delighted but there wasn't enough footage to make a full blown video with just Otsuka Sensei. We needed filler. So I decided that we might leverage the tape by using Ajari as part of my Ajari makeover plan. He was a 7th dan and we figured it would look better if he were 8th so he phoned up Japan and asked them to grant him an 8th dan. So they did and we were able to put 8th on the video cover. Looking back I can't believe what I did....
I was never Ajari's student. I trained in his dojo. Back in the day some of his seniors were pretty good and there was nothing else happening in the San Francisco area in terms of Wado. Back then the only thing I cared about was competition and making the US Team. I had done Wado when I was much younger in Japan. While I was in California I also trained with Hidetaka Abe who was from Meiji University and brought to the US by Ajari before Abe ran away and established his own club because he decided he had enough of Ajari's abuse. But the bottom line is that the technical level of Wado that I had seen in the US was different from what I was used to in Japan. Ajari and Abe were tough collegiate fighters in their day. That was about the extent of their knowledge. The old guys tell me that back in the 50's everyone in Tokyo feared Ajari and these are guys from other styles like Kiyoshi Yamazaki. Apparently Ajari was the best fighter in Tokyo. One day I met Osaka Sensei. I saw him do a demo and I could tell he knew something about Wado. But again coming from Nihon University all he did was kumite. But compared to the others in the US Osaka Sensei's movements were smooth and quick.
I knew Takagi Sensei before I knew Ajari. I didn't meet Ajari until I dropped in his dojo around 1982 after I graduated from the local university. I knew there was something wrong with him the minute I saw him but I needed a place to train and I needed training partners.
The old Wado dojo in Tokyo was in Shibuya. It was called the Tokyo Physical Center. Arakawa Sensei, Takagi Sensei, Maeda Sensei all taught under the same roof. TPC was evicted because of excessive noise. That was in the early 80's. So then they went their separate ways. Prior to that everyone trained together. Takagi Sensei then established his Guseikai per Eriguchi Sensei's orders and I was one of the original people members. I think my membership card has number 38 on it?
I recently saw Frank Johnson's book and he had photos of the place. Murase, Nishimura all trained there.
Nishimura was Goju. The only reason he went to TPC was because Murase was number one and Nishimura knew that the road to number one was thru number one....The first time he showed up at the dojo he promptly challenged Murase and received a serious beating. I guess that was the point. He wanted to confirm he came to the right place. Eventually he was able to turn the tables on Murase not that he ever gave Murase a beating but he eventually was able to hold his own. I wasn't there when that happened. Nishimura told me about it. But I remember being in class and no one wanting to partner with Nishimura because he only had one intensity level....high. He kicked for real. In my opinion it was a waste of time to practice with him because you were too worried about getting injured, but hey. that's just me. Nishimura was a great fighter.
I will ask Leonard to join. I doubt if Mr Smith will. Ben, you know history better than I do. Perhaps Mr Smith trained in the 50's.
I just know about the personal relationships. I saw a photo in Frank Johnson's book and I had to laugh because there were several people in the shot who seriously dislike each other and you would never know it by looking at the photo. More recently I saw a photo of your seminar in Manchester where Shimura and Sakagami were on the same floor at the same time. Brought a tear to my eye. Tears of laughter.