View Full Version : Terry Dobson: Sex, Drugs, and Lock & Throw

John Lindsey
26th October 2000, 16:05
Rumor has it that after the publishing of this book, the Catholic Church will no longer seek sainthood for Terry Dobson.

I remember reading about Terry over the past 20 years in various aikido magazines. Granted, aikido is kind of low on my “budo information food group pyramid” but I have always tried to follow all the Japanese martial arts.

I never met Terry, but had a general impression about him based on what I had read. When he passed away, I read the usual media eulogies about how great a martial artists and human being he was and so on and so on….. Then I read Ellis Amdur’s story about Terry in Aikido Journal (reprinted in this book) and I came away from it with a chuckle and a better understanding of who Terry really was. Thinking of him getting stoned on pot and teaching a class seemed slightly humorous at the time (I too fondly remember the 1970’s). But reading the story again last night, I had problems with the drug use in conjunction with martial arts training. Sure, the 1970’s were a different time and society was still rocking from the 60’s, but it did make me think about how this would have gone over in today’s society. I think it might have to do with aikido and its perceived mystical/new age qualities that might have made it seem appropriate for use while in an altered state of consciousness.

I am sure these events were more of a case of youthful indiscretions, and like the book, this chapter has ended for all those involved.

Lastly, I think I would have liked Terry had I ever met him.

Anyone have any similar experiences or feelings on the issue of drug use and martial arts?

Richard A Tolson
26th October 2000, 17:31
I had an interesting experience a few weeks ago upon meeting Lovret Sensei. Mr. Lovret, Robert Wolfe and myself were sitting in Mr. Lovret's RV before I began teaching a class for my students at the Itten/Oroshi dojo. Mr. Lovret offered Robert a beer, then looked me square in the eye and said that he would offer me one, but that I was about to step on the mat and it would be inaapropriate to drink before teaching. This impressed me! In response I just smiled and said that I am a tea-tottler anyways.

27th October 2000, 11:33

It goes without saying that one should not get wrecked as a fruitbat prior to training for obvious reasons, and yet maybe it should be said, at least in that it promotes inspection.
i.e. how about supplementing training (with competant and consenting students) with a once a week/fortnight/month festival of abandon followed by a training session. Am I mad? Well, obviously, but hear me out!
I am thinking this because all the situations I have encoutered which have involved serious violence have all been connected to people being off their heads on summink or other. I don't think it would work for everyone but for myself I think it works on one level or another, ie if you are used to being hit, thrown and generally assaulted whilst out of it, then the chances are you'll be better off then a martial artist who has only trained sober should a situation develop whilst you are drunk.

Any Excuse :-)

Richard A Tolson
29th October 2000, 02:01
Perhaps this is too novel of an idea, but here I go. How about controlling one's drinking so they do not get drunk and have to worry about the dangers of drinking and violence? Here's another great stretch. Don't go places that put you in a position where you might have to react to drunken idiots. Just an idea :).

29th October 2000, 04:41
Don't forget. It wasn't supposed to be an "altered state," but an expanded state of consciousness.:smokin:

I think you a wee bit young to remember or even know what part drugs played in the sixties, but Bill Cosby once faced his demons.

He was at a "Hollywood" party, and saw someone snorting a white powder up his nose. He went over and asked: "What is that you're putting up your nose there?" The guy said "Cocaine." Bill: "OOOh. That's what it looks like. What does it do to you?" The snorter said: "It enhances your personality." Bill thought about it for a while, and then asked "What if you're an a$$hole?"

Well, anyway, the seventies was Madison Ave. idea of what the sixties looked like through rose-colored dollar $igns. Even in the late sixties, you could always find those who put on their store-bought hippie outfit for the week-end. It really only lasted for five or six years. Who do you think made up the "Summer of Love" in 1968? Just before that, a song came out called "If your going to San Francisco," Earth shoes were becoming the rage, and most hair salons were training to cut hair long. It really didn't take long.

Oh, and the link to MA? Sensei Ueshiba was the oldest hippy or didn't ya'll know that?:karatekid


Ellis Amdur
29th October 2000, 16:37
John -

Thanks for picking up one of my bits of mischief in the book. Drug use and abuse (I'm making a distinction - the question is one's relationship with the substance, not the substance use per se) has been a part of human history and therefore martial history forever. We have shamans snorting hallucinogenic snuff in the Amazon to figure out the best time to go to war, soldiers of many nationalities (including America) getting amphetamines doled out before battles or missions, people getting stoned or drunk before, during and after battles to disinhibit aggression, and to tolerate terror. We have gangbangers smoking sherms or sniffing glue before drive-byes so they won't care about who or what they shoot, and incredibly raucous parties after dignified koryu demos in Japan, red-faced elderly gentlemen singing about the glorious days in Manchuria.

Speaking of Terry, he studied with Haga Sensei, one of the greats of modern kendo and iai, who used to come to practice drunk, reeking of alcohol as he moved precisely to ram a shinai in your throat. I have, myself, drunk with some of the greats and then seen them at their worst.

For those who want to get on a high horse, I'm not pushing drugs or drink as a fuel for enlightenment or moral behavior or good martial arts. Given that I work on the front lines of the war around child abuse, I get to see on a daily basis how hellish the behavior of substance abusing parents and others can be.

I am not inclined to "chemical enhancement" of my life these days. But I can't abide deifying mortal humans either - not because I want to debunk them or tear them down (that's why, for the most part, I'm not into expose or naming names, with the exception of rapists and molestors - I use the behavior as an object lesson to be used to increase one's own awareness, not rake muck), but because deification is another way of getting high - in other words, one is as little mindful when drunk as one is when whispering with bated breath about "my sensei," blind to his or her flaws, believing oneself a part of or absorbing some spiritual elixer just because one is associated with someone so wonderful. Then when abuse or moral turpitude happens, the true believer always finds a way to rationalize it. Or participate in it. One can be as drunk on deity and fantasy as on bourbon.


Ellis Amdur

30th October 2000, 08:48
Hi, Ellis,
Yes, there is a big difference in use and abuse, and as deifying sensei is as bad (or good, I suppose), the mirror for it is everywhere.

This is a self-medicating, one way or another, and "true-believers" of everything if the correct slant is put on it, so it shouldn't surprise. In the martial arts world, it is particulary heavy-handed.

People who are not doers of this, but who have worked with them, as in a shooting company for a documentary, to shooting comedy MA, have said that martial artists are "arrogant SOBs (This, I have heard frequently)."

Stimulants, from drugs to the church, can do strange things to people, and then wonder why we self-medicate in the first place.


Tom Douglas
30th October 2000, 14:01
Smoke Sensei? Senseimilla. Does anyone know where I can get some?

Violence itself can be a drug. Testosterone may have something to do with it, but it's certainly not exclusively a male high. "Seeing red" . . . etc. There is a biochemical hook in adrenaline and norepinephrine rushes. Ideally, martial arts training enables one to ride this aggressive energy. Not always, though. There is an illuminating illustration of this in Mr. Amdur's new book, "Dueling with O-Sensei," where Mr. Amdur lost it in a training session with one of his Araki-ryu brothers. In dealing with temper and other mood swings, I don't like to mess around with anything substantially mood-altering. Just my personal take on it.

Tom Douglas

John Lindsey
30th October 2000, 16:32
Tom, that chapter you just mentioned has to be one of my favorites, along with the last one (Oni-san I think).

I think this chapter is were Ellis talks about what his view of what a warrior is, and I was glad to read that he has very similar views to mine.

As for testosterone, being a father of a girl and a boy, I can literally see the testosterone surging thru the veins of my 18 month old son.

31st October 2000, 05:38
This is a BTW to Tom (this will date me for sure). Tom, it is sin semilla (without seeds):D


31st October 2000, 15:50
Isn't aikido created from overdosing on Deguchi?......


Bridger Dyson-Smith
31st October 2000, 17:09
:D overdosing on "Deguchi"

addicts have been known to sniff, paw and sometimes even chew expensive leather products such as purses, shoes and belts. watch out for them, they frequent shopping malls, and can be vicious when cornered.

Bridger Dyson-Smith

15th February 2001, 19:38
Would anyone share what it was that Terry Dobson did that caused him to almost be expelled from the Aikikai?

Ellis Amdur
15th February 2001, 21:30
First of all, I have never heard that Terry was ever "almost expelled" from the Aikikai. I do know that at various periods, some individuals were rather ticked off at him. Given the amazing level of moral degeneracy that has been tolerated among various individuals without any move towards "expulsion," this is not really a common phenomenom. That is what makes Saito Sensei''s making Bruce Klickstein hamon such an estimable action - because, in many other situations in the aikido community, so much is often tolerated. (And no, I am not going to reopen that old story yet again.)

Were some powerful elements at the Aikikai really irritated with Terry, at certain periods of time? Yes. Why? Politics. Terry was in an interesting position. If you were an uchi-deshi, you were family. You cannot be easily dismissed, even if you are stealing from the collection plate. Terry was advocating a role for American aikido and also advocating for certain figures that were on the outs with the bureacracy. This displeased some people quite a bit. There was, however, as far as I am aware, no move to make him hamon, and given evidence to the contrary, I know of absolutely no moral transgression that would have engendered such a move.


Ellis Amdur

[Edited by Ellis Amdur on 02-15-2001 at 04:37 PM]

16th February 2001, 15:43
Sorry about that. It was a poor choice of words on my part. No offense was intended, and I thank you for your response, Mr. Amdur.