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Interview with Laszlo Abel (1)

by Stanley Pranin

Aiki News #95 (Spring/Summer 1993)

Australian Laszlo Abel came to Japan sixteen years ago in search of “noncommercial” martial arts. After trying out “ninjutsu” and finding it unsatisfactory, he turned to Yumio Nawa Sensei’s manrikigusari, or chain art. Unanswered questions about the roots of the art led Abel on a fascinating odyssey of historical research. Here he recalls some of his discoveries and experiences in both the classical martial arts and in doing research as a foreigner in Japan.

Let me start by having you introduce yourself. You have been living in Japan for quite a long time. What brought you here in the first place?

Basically, I wanted to come to a country that I couldn’t see myself surviving in because I could only speak English and a smattering of Hungarian. Japan had always held some kind of attraction because I’d studied karate for three years. Because of the type of karate training I did in Australia, I thought that the training itself would be a lot better in Japan. So the decision to come here was not based on one single ambition.

This was about 1976?

I made the decision to come earlier than that, but I didn’t have enough money, and it took me a long time to get a visa to enter Japan. I arrived in September of ‘76, so that’s sixteen years now.

After you arrived here in Japan, did you continue your karate training?

No. In Australia there was too much commercialism of karate. I started in Kyokushinkai karate under John MacDonald, who was what they call a “karate baka.” He was very good at teaching and was a very hard and demanding trainer. However, when he left the area so did his type of training. In the end I joined another dojo made up of people from various other styles. From this experience I got to understand the martial arts scene from a broader viewpoint. I saw what was happening with commercial ideas and such. When I came to Japan, I intended to avoid a similar situation so I had contacted a style of ninjutsu. This was before the popularization and commercialization of that art. I was completely ignorant as to what ninjutsu was. Even the Japanese at that time knew it only through TV shows and comic books and I suppose a lot of people nowadays think ninjutsu is flying around in the air, swimming under-water—doing superhuman feats. So I came to Japan and did about eight months of training out at Noda City in Chiba Prefecture with Hatsumi Sensei. I think the reason I did not continue there again was the commercialization. I distinctly remember one night getting changed with a Frenchman, Laurent Tressiere, who had trained there for a long time. Hatsumi Sensei came into the changing room, and said in the course of the short conversation, “Study here, take the techniques back to your country, charge a lot of money for them, and send it back to me.” That’s what turned me off. By this time I had developed an interest in Japanese weapons. The catalyst for this were samurai dramas on TV. In one of these dramas I saw a truncheon, a jutte, being used and I thought I’d like to have one of those. So through an associate of mine I came to know my present sensei, Yumio Nawa, who is perhaps the largest and best known collector of “unusual” weapons, i.e., other than swords and such.

He’s also an authority on the history of ninjutsu and an author of a large number of books concerning his interests.

He is in a very good position for the type of research in which he specializes. He is quite often employed as a historical coordinator/researcher for various samurai dramas. He has actually used stuntmen to try out some of the things he’s researched. And he has made some real discoveries. I remember watching a documentary on TV about mizugumo. They were what the ninja supposedly wore to cross tracts of water. Nawa Sensei was employed to find out whether it was possible to “walk across water” using mizugumo. So he got together some stuntmen and acrobats —men expert in balance —and methodically constructed the mizugumo. In the old ninjutsu manuscript Bansenshukai two mizugumo are depicted, supposedly one for each foot.

Like paddles?

Well, they’re circular and interpretation so far supports that they were to fit on the feet for walking across water just like a mizugumo (lit. water spider). As Sensei completed each example of the flotation device — firstly, one for each foot in line with the old documentation—these were tested by the acrobats and stuntmen. Initially walking across water was impossible. Further experimentation resulted in the construction of one large raft-like device upon which one could sit and paddle across water. The end result, when placed in the correct context of six hundred years ago is that a so-called ninja could not have crossed a moat or a waterway without being spotted quite easily. First he’d have to carry a huge round device, which would be very suspicious, and second, he couldn’t have put it in the water and paddled across without being seen by castle guards, especially given that these guards were trained for the unexpected and that environmental conditions were very different from those of today. After all, Japan was in a state of continual warfare.

At our first meeting he told me that he taught the manrikigusari, which is a length of chain with two weights, one on either end, developed by a samurai, Toshimitsu Masaki. When I heard it was a formal tradition, based on historical fact traceable to a samurai link, I was quite excited. He asked if I would like to join. Of course I said yes. The dojo was at Hongo and practice was held every Saturday.

What year approximately was this?

Probably about 1977. I went along to the dojo. Nawa Sensei wasn’t actually teaching, Koichi Shibata was. There were quite a few people in the class. It was the first time I’d ever seen anything like this. Not many Japanese, let alone Westerners, would know about such a weapon. Of course, everybody knows the manrikigusari nowadays because it is mistakenly presented as a “ninja” weapon. But to the people who train in this art, it is firmly held in high respect as a traditional samurai art.

I was not able to join the dojo immediately, because Shibata Sensei felt there were more than enough people training in the limited space available, and even though Nawa Sensei was the person who introduced me, it was Shibata Sensei’s decision to make. So the first time I went along, I said to myself, “Well, OK, I’ll come back next week.” Then I went back the following week, and then I went a third time. It was persistence on my part. There was a Japanese guy there that third time who also wanted to join. He was obviously wealthy. When Shibata Sensei turned to me and said, “Why don’t you start next week?” this guy got up, and muttered something under his breath about Shibata Sensei playing favorites with me. He didn’t realize that I’d been there for the past two weeks. That’s when I joined, and that’s where I’ve been ever since.

A few advantages in belonging to the dojo soon surfaced. Shibata Sensei also teaches jujutsu, so through that introduction I was able to start jujutsu with him. Another student at the dojo, Yokoyama-san, introduced me to Negishi-ryu shuriken-jutsu. Nawa Sensei, who is also knowledgeable in shuriken-jutsu, helped to clarify these techniques. He drew on his experience of having as a very close friend Isamu Maeda, a recognized shuriken-jutsu teacher, who is now deceased.

The art is called Masaki-ryu today, and that entails basically the chain and also the kusarigama (weighted chain and sickle). Edo Machikatta jutte-jutsu is also now a part of the curriculum, as is hojo-jutsu (tying and binding techniques). However, my research reveals that there never was a Masaki-ryu, it was always just considered to be the chain that was taught by the Masaki family or the kusarigama taught by the Masaki family and so on. My research in original documents of the Masaki family has not uncovered any reference to anything about a Masaki-ryu by any generation of the Masaki family. This is quite significant when viewed culturally. However it is probably just as easy to label it as Masaki-ryu—it does save a lot of explanation.

The reason we have asked you to sit down and talk with us is not only because of the fact that you are a foreigner studying martial arts in Japan, and not only the fact that you are studying kobudo, because there are other foreigners studying kobudo, but the fact that you’ve done a large amount of research. Would you talk first of all about how it’s been for you to do research on a Japanese classical tradition as a foreigner in Japan? Are there any advantages to being a foreigner in conducting this research; on the other hand are there any disadvantages?

Well, there are advantages. If you are researching in a country area, the people try to do their best to get you on the right path—it seems to be on a more personal level. Most of the research I’ve done is probably on the Masaki family, and the chain. What drove me to it was the lack of sufficient answers to questions that I thought should be easy to answer by the people who were supposed to know.

About the origins and the traditions?

Yes, you’ve got to understand that Nawa Sensei was born around 1912, so he’s about eighty or eighty-one years old now. Ms own use of the chain is different from someone half his age. The late Kiyoshi Watatani Sensei often said that it’s very difficult talking to old teachers, because they don’t know too much about things, other than what they were told because they weren’t in a position to ask questions. Their options were extremely limited — accept and respect what they were told or not practice the school. So, to a point I understood why Nawa Sensei wasn’t able to respond to some of my questions. But I thought that if I ever taught this art back in Australia, the questions I was asking Nawa Sensei were the ones the Australians would be asking me, and I’d really have to know, so I decided to start doing research in Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture. This is where the Masaki tradition originated. I first contacted the library down there, and I had very good luck in that the librarian, a very nice lady, took it on to really help me. I didn’t get a lot of information straight away, because the library was being rebuilt. Eventually I had to wait for about a year or so, before I could go down to do active research. Ogaki itself was a small fief provisioned with a 100,000 koku revenue in the old days. Don’t forget that the decisive battle of Sekigahara took place right near Ogaki, and the side that won basically took over Japan. The Tokugawa bakufu cut up the center of Japan into small fiefs to keep it weak.

To keep it weak politically?

Yes, and they put their own people in there. Ogaki’s a flat area, there are no mountains to build a castle on, like in Gifu. In Gifu City, you’ve got Gifu Castle on top of that steep mountain. Ogaki is a small castle surrounded by a very defensive moat system, and because of that the clan’s martial arts were primarily devoted to bow and arrow, spear, and hinawaju (fuselocks) — the “long distance” weapons. By this I mean that every samurai was trained in these arts as well the sword. To keep the edge in their training it was very common to seek skills outside the clan’s basic curriculum. In the Ogaki fief you had the situation where the sword of the clan was taught by the Kotoda family (Kotoda Itto-ryu), however there was also the sword taught by the Masaki family. This diversity is seen in all the martial arts of the clan. When viewed over the long term it can only be thought of as healthy for the survival of the clan.

Toshimitsu Masaki was bom in 1688 and I think he was like Morihei Ueshiba Sensei and Sokaku Takeda Sensei, who were reputed to be able to control the “ki” force that surrounded them. I found a lot of information about Masaki Sensei’s duels. He almost never used weapons, relying only his hands. He actually fought one against a sumo wrestler, Goroji Ayakawa. He allowed the wrestler to do tsuppari (sumo style thrusting) against him, but the sumo man couldn’t budge Masaki because of his strong control of his ki. And when Masaki did the same, the sumo wrestler went flying through the air.

Toshimitsu Masaki served three different lords, and died when he was 88. He earned a great deal of respect within the clan. The Masaki family went right through to the Meiji period when it almost died out. Fortunately it was succeeded by relatives and is still thriving today. The chain that Masaki developed also survived, not only as a weapon but also a talisman. I have found examples of the chain being stored in family altars, carried on one’s person in a religious manner, placed over the main entrance of houses to prevent evil from entering. I even interviewed a family whose grandmother slept with her husband’s chain after he passed away until she died.

I found that prewar sources of history were merely reproductions of reproductions. A book written and produced in 1992 referred to a book produced in 1990, which referred to a book produced perhaps in 1970. Interpretations change, and people don’t bother to do original research anymore.

An interesting episode occurred toward the end of my first research trip. At the library just as I was leaving, a Japanese man was coming in and he asked, “What’s a foreigner doing here?” The librarian explained, “He’s an Australian, who works for the Australian Embassy, and he’s researching Toshimitsu Masaki, who was a samurai in the Ogaki clan and who apparently developed this chain.” Of course, the chain was what I think really attracted him, not only that I was a foreigner. And he said, “Ah, what was the man’s name again?” I said, “Toshimitsu Masaki.” He said politely, “Well, I’ll keep an eye out for anything about him, and look into it.” His name was Kenji Yamada and besides writing for Nishi Mino Wagamachi, a small historical magazine for Ogaki, he also worked for the local bank at that time. Lo and behold, some time later he contacted me and said that he had found the present head of the family. To add to my surprise, they had found all this information, a meter or two stack of boxes full of information all about the Masaki family.


No one even knew it was around until I started the ball rolling. Apparently some material had been borrowed by a person in Tokyo a long time ago. It took a little while but it was all assembled and chronologically recorded. In fact the chronological record is almost a book in itself. I’ve been going down there a great deal ever since to do research. I specifically wanted to find something to do with the martial arts, the chain. My gut feeling was that someone somewhere had a box full of chains, and someone somewhere had a book or something pertaining to the way the chain should be taught. I remember the only public demonstration the school has ever given was at the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Ogaki clan, held at a temple. The priest told a couple of friends who told a couple of friends, and one of these people brought a box to the temple. It was full of chains. We thought they were probably made in the Meiji period for students at the Ogaki Shogyo Gakko, which was like a high school, where the chain was being taught. Apparently the teaching of the chain at this school was discontinued after some of the students became involved in fights with the chains. From that point on, however, a small group of people in Ogaki couldn’t or didn’t want to believe that I could be the most knowledgeable person about the history of the Masaki family and chain. They did not make loud noises as they were very aware that I had a very high rank in the chain school and that they could never outrank me. This did not stop them trying to make a big splash themselves. One of this group I remember actually appeared on a local TV program depicting himself as an “expert” of the school and its history. They even had the nerve to query the authenticity of the present head of the Masaki family. There was no need for me to argue, as in drawing up a very comprehensive family tree of the Masaki family, I used not only the documents uncovered but also official documents held in local government offices which were kindly supplied by the Masaki family.

I am aware that rumors have also been used against me. I am careful not to announce where I go or who I visit in Ogaki to those I cannot trust. In fact, I have been warned by people in the library there not to trust this group as they have a reputation for ripping off research, rushing a publication and thereby becoming the expert in that field.

In the end though I suppose what I am trying to say is that the good outweighs the bad by a long shot.

I’ve also found that there is what is essentially a technical book out there. The owner is translating it from old Japanese into modern and has so far taken over three years. When I visit the family, they show me little bits and pieces of it. I figure that by the time I’m ready to leave Japan, it’ll be ready. It’s funny how I think I’m doing a great deal of good, but I never hear anything from anybody. In fact, I found some things that I didn’t like. For example, there are techniques that aren’t taught now, that were taught in the last century. I have found the original notes for kusarigama techniques written by the founder. This placed me in a dilemma. I didn’t know how to tell my teacher. I kept very quiet about it.

Because Ogaki is a small town, people associated with the town magazine asked me to write something about Toshimitsu Masaki. I tried to get out of it but they had been so nice to me I felt I owed them something. After all it was about Ogaki and they were Ogaki people. There was also the possibility that it would benefit my research by motivating others who possessed information to come forward.

I went to great pains to assemble the information I had at that time and wrote something that was still fairly basic. They devoted most of the issue of that month’s magazine to my research. I didn’t tell my teacher that I had written the article because I was frightened that he’d find things in there that might be embarrassing. In fact, some very good connections with valuable source material resulted from this article.

Soon afterwards I was approached to publish a book on Masaki-ryu and my research, I declined, saying that I wasn’t in the position to do it. I couldn’t undertake such a project ahead of my teacher. I said that they should ask my teacher instead of me.

Did many people ask you to do books?

Yes. There was a man in Nagoya publishing mameboriy little tiny books. He approached me and said that if I didn’t want to do a major book, how about writing for his subscribers? He said that they numbered about two hundred. Even though I tried to decline, he assured me that all the subscribers were keen collectors and that none of the books would be sold commercially. I gave in and set about doing another manuscript. By this time, I had translated more of the material already found and was able to draw some conclusions and piece together the history presented in the Masaki family records with the history of the clan. It really started to take shape.

I justified publication of the mamebon by thinking that many more than two hundred had read the Nishi Mino Wagamachi article and so I felt safe in assuming that a dedicated two hundred people was an added safety measure in not being found out. Was I wrong!

My teacher found out about it through somebody who lived in Hokkaido, who belonged to this group of subscribers and had shown the book to Shibata Sensei who then showed it to Nawa Sensei. Nawa Sensei was very upset about it. I was suspended from the school.

What year was this?

It was Christmas day 1982.

How did you get back into the school?

Well, it was only a suspension. Bruce Brown was still at the dojo then. He kept me informed as to what was happening. In all I was away for about three months. I only missed about seven weeks of actual training because the dojo was being reconditioned and I returned to Australia for a week for Christmas.

I think Nawa Sensei was really frightened at what I’d found out. It’s hard to explain that my purpose is not to discover discrepancies, but rather to unearth the correct history of the school and the people involved. I know how hard that is now and so I can imagine how impossible it will be in say fifty years time.

And further problems arose. For instance, I spent some money in rebuilding the graves of the founder. That was a big plus in Ogaki. I think it was a big minus in Tokyo.

I think I know what you’re saying. I’ve encountered this problem in my research too. As you know, most of the technical side of aikido comes from Daito-ryu jujutsu. When I first began my research in aikido, of course, I knew very little about the early days of aikido. I had heard of the Daito-ryu school and also of Sokaku Takeda. But he was always described in very negative terms, as a killer—indeed he had killed quite a few people—and a very unpleasant personality who was only interested in money, etc. But the more I talked to the prewar students of aikido, the more I realized that this Daito-ryu connection was very important. So about six or seven years ago, I decided to begin systematically interviewing some of the Daito-ryu teachers to get their perspective. What I found was that the opinions of Sokaku Takeda and Daito-ryu did have some basis in fact, but that there was an additional side to the personality of this man. If you put him in his historical context, you can see that this sort of behavior is not totally out of the question for someone who has a samurai mentality. But the more research that we’ve done into Daito-ryu, and the more publishing, the more it became apparent that a certain element within the aikido movement was not very pleased. What I have found is that doing research into the history of something, especially something that occurred quite a bit in the past, which you would think is a fairly apolitical scholarly activity, turns out to have very major political ramifications. It’s not just a question of researching things and finding things out and publishing them, you have to weigh what you publish and what you find out, even if you determine that it is historically accurate.

You can’t just let everything out, so to speak. You’ve got to consider the sensitivities of the people involved today. I’ve had some experiences parallel to yours as a foreigner in Japan. There are some clear advantages, people are sometimes quite willing to help, but the disadvantages are that many want to know what a foreigner is doing being so meddlesome, looking into their background.

I know I am a very capable researcher. It seems to be a natural talent. In my own way I strive for perfection. This affects people differently. I’ve come to the conclusion that if research is to continue, that it should go at a more subdued pace. This in itself is very restricting for me but I think I have suffered enough in trying to do the right thing.

Further publication of the Masaki research can only take place when I feel all relevant information has been found. I’m too much of a perfectionist to say I have enough, I always need to have more information. I’m hungry like that. In fact, we had a big dinner after the magazine article was published. There were thirty or thirty-five people in this banquet room, all for me. I was shocked. Here I was just going to the library, piddling around with some old papers, photocopying this and that, and there I was, the guest of honor. I remember one guest criticizing the article. I didn’t know what to do, in front of all those people. Before I could even think of what to say, Shimizu Sensei, who’s one of the most highly regarded local historians, stood up and said, “It’s a start. If more people started, there would be more people who’d finish. The next time he writes, it may not be like this, he’ll have more information, it’ll be clearer. Let’s just hope he continues.” I thought it was a very educated way of approaching it. It was the first time I’d written something in Japanese. It went through a translation process, which I couldn’t control. As I said, I wasn’t prepared to write anything at that time. People tend to think that if you’re doing a bit of research, you should publish. That’s a problem with a lot of books out there, people don’t research to the depth that’s necessary to find out the real truth.

I know exactly what you mean. When I look back at some of the earlier issues of Aiki News, even after I came to Japan,I’m embarrassed at some of the things that we printed. Because basically I took in good faith information that I had received from the Japanese or from some of the older books and just translated or regurgitated it. Subsequent research has shown me that in various important areas things didn’t actually happen that way, or that the emphasis is wrong. What do you think? I’ve encountered this problem. Especially in some of the aikido organizations, the position of the organization is important. I don’t often find false information being giver to me or published, but what I find is what I would call “sins of omission.” In other words, people, who for whatever reason are no longer associated with that group or organization —perhaps they left under bad conditions —are purged from the history of that group or organization. What I have found is that by piecing bits and pieces of information together, the history is actually a lot richer and a lot more varied than is sometimes portrayed, certainly in early books on aikido. What you’ve got to be aware of is the fact that there may be an individual or several individuals who are involved and played important roles who do not appear in that particular version of history.

Well, in addition to Masaki research, I do research in other fields as well — one of them is foreigners who were here at the beginning of the century and who were involved in the martial arts. The experiences I’ve had with some of the Japanese authorities in trying to get information has been absolutely incredible. When I try to go through the official way of getting information it becomes a very trying task. A few years ago when I was on the trail of a foreigner called Parry, the first foreigner to practice Daito-ryu jujutsu under Sokaku Takeda, I found out that he had lived in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture. I found his address in some old papers at the British Embassy. So one day I went to the Fujisawa City Office and on entering, asked the lady at the reception desk where I could find out about foreigners. She took me down to the proper section and I spent about half an hour explaining that Parry had died in 1949, never married and had no kin in Japan. This had been confirmed by the British Embassy. No matter how much I explained, there was no way of getting his records. So I just walked away frustrated. The woman at the desk saw me and asked if I had gotten what I came for. After I explained she asked me to wait. I don’t know where she went, but on her return she said that a friend of hers knew the area Parry lived in. She would contact her and convey any information to me. Needless to say I was absolutely thrilled. She called two days later with more news than I expected. She had found Parry’s landlord. So first, I had a real down, but then I had an incredible up. Even though we tend to linger on the negative side of things, all these good things do come out of it. I don’t know whether it was because I was a foreigner or that the lady just didn’t agree with the system. Anyhow, it proved successful because I found a very rare photograph of Parry.

I’ve had some frustrating experiences overseas as well. A classic bureaucratic impasse was when Donn Draeger died. I felt that he was someone whose life should be recorded. So I started to look at the Japanese side of his life, what he actually did here and what he got in the way of ranks. But depending on who you talked to, his ranks were different. It’s quite hard to get information on official ranks. When I spoke with foreigners here, some said that he was a fifth dan in this or a third dan in that. It was very hard to find out. I think the only arts I was successful in getting official ranks in were jo and judo, though I’m sure he had rankings in other things. I then thought to try for other information. So I called up Camp Zama and asked how to go about getting information on a soldier. I explained that the person was deceased and that I wanted to see his military record. The reply was that it was all available under the Freedom of Information Act from the Defense Department in Washington. I wrote to them and they sent me this form to fill out. I did and returned it. I received another letter which indirectly said that information could not be provided unless some proof of family relationship could be established.

It makes you wonder what the Freedom of Information Act is all about.

I only wanted his record to have an accurate starting point. I don’t know what harm that could do. He had a very distinguished military career. The people I spoke to here all knew only bits and pieces about him. I think that a man who devoted so much time and so much effort to the martial arts needs to have his story told or recorded. All these little hassles just turned me off wanting to do any more research. I decided to leave that one to somebody else. Of course, since then no one has bothered. I suspect his life if it ever is told will be in about one hundred years time when information will be more difficult to get. I think really the only definitive piece done on Draeger was when he died, by Meik Skoss. It serves as a base, and is fine for an obituary, but I think Draeger deserves a lot more.

There’s nothing that compares with Draeger’s three books on Japanese martial arts in English, Classical Bujutsu, Classical Budo, and Modern Bujutsu and Budo, and I consult them from time to time. However, there are some serious problems in the section on aikido which is really the only area I feel comfortable in research-wise, and the sources are not very clear.

You’re being very diplomatic. They’re all wrong. I’m very cut and dry on this. Aikido was an easy thing to research for the information that he put in that book. He should have been more precise.

Ueshiba was still alive. I want to be able to say that those books are landmark works, but there are some problems with them. I’ve never seen them criticized in print. I remember seeing a reference in something Draeger wrote to a book from the Meiji period with a very sensationalized and attractive title, The art of stealth, or something like that. So one time I said, “Well, I’m going to look into this a little further.” I started calling around the libraries and I found the book. It was a comic book. But it was cited in Draeger’s book as though it were an important work of that period, which led me to guess that he had never physically seen the book. He had perhaps gotten the information secondhand.

He wrote about Tenjin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu, and I did that for over seven years, before the dojo collapsed. The information that he put in there wasn’t totally correct. And I am sure that providing the sources for it correctly would not have been so difficult. I think in one of the books he said that you really have to be part of a school to know all about it.

I’d like to say, “Well, this is a start.”

Definitely. But one of the books I do like to read over and over again is E.J. Harrison’s The Fighting Spirit of Japan. I’ve read that now a number of times. I’m fascinated by the guy himself. I would have loved to have known him.

I’d like to let people know a little bit more about what you’re doing now in the way of research about foreigners, and I’d like to know about your methods.

Well, I have a main list of about a dozen foreigners from several countries. Each subject requires his own peculiar type of research. I think it would be too involved to enter into here. However if you were to do research at Japanese libraries, it’s important to know what the library contains. You might send a library a letter explaining your research of so-and-so and ask whether the library has any information. The library may only have one book. However in its private collection that many do have, there could be a box full of documents. Of course, once you know of such a collection it is important to receive an introduction from the library to the present owners of the documents. A library can and will not give access without proper permission.

I found this out in Ogaki, when the new library was completed, and they showed me through it. They had a temperature-controlled vault-like room filled with special acid-free boxes full of old documents, dating back four hundred years. It was just mind boggling.

[to be continued]

Laszlo John Abel was born in Wollongong Australia in 1954. Began training in Kyokushinkai karate in 1969. Studied the following martial arts traditions during his sixteen-year stay in Japan: Tokagure-ryu ninjutsu, Masaki-ryu manrikigusari-jutsu, Tenjin Shinyo-ryu jujutsu, Negishi-ryu shuriken-jutsu, and Shindo Munen-ryu kenjutsu. Participant in numerous classical martial arts demonstrations. Author of Masaki-ryu Manrikigusari and several magazine and newspaper articles. Founding member of the Japan Martial Arts Society and frequent contributor to its newsletter. Researcher of early foreign practitioners of Japanese martial arts. Employed at the Australian Embassy, Tokyo.