The classes were held at a local secondary school numbered around twenty students, and were of a mixture of men and women and ages – ‘all of whom appeared to be beginners regardless of their rank’. They came from an Aikido section of a dojo in town called Sunderland Martial Arts Academy which taught Aikido, Judo and Karatedo. Sometime later the Sunderland Academy invited Chiba Sensei to teach at their dojo three times a week on a regular basis. It was a small group of about ten, and again seemingly beginners. However, there were a group of young students, 18–20 years old who were physically fit and eager to learn.
The dojo became the center of Chiba Sensei teaching activity in the Northeast of England until 1968. At the same time the SPE gave him a daytime class once a week at the Monkwearmouth Technical College. As a result, after a long period of inactivity since arriving in May 1966, Chiba Sensei was fully engaged in teaching Aikido six days a week and began to report back positively to Hombu Dojo after a long silence.
In mid-October 1966 a demonstration sponsored by the local television station was held in the gymnasium of the secondary school where Chiba Sensei was conducting classes. Chiba Sensei used the student who had been leading the classes before his arrival as the uke, unfortunately he landed badly and hit his head hard enough to cause a severe concussion and was taken to hospital, successfully treated for intracranial bleeding, losing some sight in one of his eyes. Another demonstration was arranged a few weeks later by the school principal, who was a member of the evening classes. The exhibition took place at a garden house near the beach and the audience was composed entirely of elderly British ladies.
Chiba Sensei took issue with martial arts being used as entertainment at a tea party, but concluded ‘Well, this is England, not Japan.’ and began the demonstration against his better judgement. Towards the end he demonstrated jodori, and during kotegaeshi the uke lost control of his jo which smashed the cup a lady was drinking from and caused general chaos in the crowd. As a result, there was a public outcry about the uncivilized behavior of the foreigner (Chiba Sensei) who offended the delicate ways of English Society
To be continued…