By Liese Klein, Biran Editor
Who was Chiba Sensei?
What does it mean to practice his Aikido?
What is his significance in the larger history of the art?
Many of us have our own answers to these questions, but with our community spread out across the world, now seems like a good time to bring our stories together.
Toward that goal, we have started a book-length biography project on the subject of Chiba Sensei and his Aikido. Our aim is to gather oral history and documents from as many of his family members, colleagues and students as possible. This book will tell both Chiba Sensei’s personal story and the story of the Japanese, U.K.,U.S. and other dojos and organizations that he inspired. Proceeds from the book will benefit Chiba Sensei’s family. (Our budget is the barest of bare-bones, so help with incidentals like buying your interviewer lunch is greatly appreciated!)
The main building block of the book will be interviews – my list is already hundreds of names long. I am trying to talk at length with everyone I can, inside and outside of Birankai, at summer camp, by phone, by email, at seminars, wherever and whenever. Don’t worry if I haven’t contacted you yet – I’ll get to you soon! I will be traveling to Japan (later this month) and the U.K. in the coming year to visit important locations and conduct interviews.
What you can do right now is send me videos, photos and any other material you might have that might be of interest. Especially early video and photos of Aikido and other events in Japan, the U.K. and San Diego. Also vitally important to this history are letters from Chiba Sensei that contain material that may be of interest to the larger community. For example, the incredible letter from Chiba Sensei that we published in Biran a few years ago on the subject of failing a test. (Names and personal details in letters can be redacted.) Please scan original photos and letters and send them to me with your contact information. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org; I can set up or share Dropbox folders for larger files.
A sincere thank-you to the Birankai North America Senior Council and officers who have helped get this project off the ground. My hope is that the book will be an important link from our past to our future, a resource for students of Aikido in the decades and centuries to come.