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Michael Phillips
10-01-2009, 03:13 PM
Hello,

I am intrigued by all this talk of internal training. I think there is something to this but I'm not sure how to approach it. I have been fortunate to feel a diverse number of aikido and aikijujutsu teachers because my occupation literally takes me around the world. I have felt top instructors from JAA Shodokan, Yoshinkan, Aikikai, Ki Society, Yoseikan, Roppokai, Takumakai, and mainline Daito ryu. All have similar although different "feelings" to their technique. At one end of the spectrum are the power kings like Yukio Utada, Morihiro Saito, Robert Mustard & Tetsuro Nariyama. At the other end were Koretoshi Maruyama, Seiseki Abe, Seigo Okamoto, Hirokazu Kobayashi and William Gleason. I guess in my limited experience, everyone else just fits in somewhere between these guys.

So, If a guy like me wants to get a taste of this IM skill where do you go to find it in aikido? Do I really have to go outside aikido? I'm suspicious when people say you can't find it in aikido because I think I've felt it numerous times. I remember a specific time when I grabbed Hirokazu Kobayashi and felt like he squeezed thru my fingers no matter how hard I grabbed and then bang, off I went. Is that what we're talking about here?

I'll be traveling to Colorado Springs and Denver on business in the next week. Is there anyone there who I can go visit who has these supposed skills. I know there's a Tomiki JAA school there as well as Ikeda's dojo up in Boulder. Or do I have to go find Mr Sigman, Harden or Akuzawa?

Respectfully,

Micheal Phillips

Ellis Amdur
10-01-2009, 04:04 PM
Michael - I don't make specific recommendations, for all sorts of reasons, so please forgive a little thread drift. But Kobayashi Hirokazu is one of the fascinating mystery men. Nariyama Tetsuo was dispatched by Tomiki Kenji to study with him. I read somewhere a quote from a a very prominent Daito-ryu instructor who stated publicly that Kobayashi was doing "real Daito-ryu, skills that were mostly lost even within DR." (I'm afraid I don't have the reference).
Is he still alive? If so, he definitely would be, by reputation, at least, one of the people I would want to check.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Michael Phillips
10-01-2009, 05:56 PM
Michael - I don't make specific recommendations, for all sorts of reasons, so please forgive a little thread drift. But Kobayashi Hirokazu is one of the fascinating mystery men. Nariyama Tetsuo was dispatched by Tomiki Kenji to study with him. I read somewhere a quote from a a very prominent Daito-ryu instructor who stated publicly that Kobayashi was doing "real Daito-ryu, skills that were mostly lost even within DR." (I'm afraid I don't have the reference).
Is he still alive? If so, he definitely would be, by reputation, at least, one of the people I would want to check.

Best
Ellis Amdur

Mr Amdur,

Sadly, Kobayashi sensei passed away a decade ago. I trained with him during a tour of Europe when I was in my mid 20's. He was a fantastic technician, one of the best if not the best, I ever felt. It was Kobayashi sensei who told me to look up Nariyama someday. Kobayashi spoke very highly of Tomiki and called him a true gentleman genius of budo.

Technically I remember the second you touched him he owned you. You might not realize he owned you, but owned you he did. As much as I respect Nariyama, the feel was quite different. When you grab Nariyama its like grabbing a bulldog. When you grabbed Kobayashi it was like grabbing a dove that turned into a dragon.

So...I guess I'm out of luck in Colorado. I know one of Tomiki's other top instructors, Seiji Tanaka lives there but I'm not positive he's still teaching. After that I'm off to Calgary....

BTW...I borrowed your book from one of my friends. I'm halfway through it. Really worthwhile effort. I'll be buying one for my bookshelf.

Michael Phillips

dps
10-01-2009, 06:27 PM
I'll be traveling to Colorado Springs and Denver on business in the next week. Is there anyone there who I can go visit who has these supposed skills.

Hmmm, internal training (IT), Colorado, now who could possibly be in the Denver Colorado area who could show Mr. Phillips these skills?

Wasn't his name also Michael or Mike, yea that"s it Mike whats his name. What a Golden opportunity! :)

David

DH
10-01-2009, 06:57 PM
Well he acknowledged knowing other sources. Then he clearly stated he wants IT from aikido.
There's a book in that self-limiting mindset that I will leave to my betters.
Dan

Michael Phillips
10-01-2009, 07:43 PM
Hmmm, internal training (IT), Colorado, now who could possibly be in the Denver Colorado area who could show Mr. Phillips these skills?

Wasn't his name also Michael or Mike, yea that"s it Mike whats his name. What a Golden opportunity! :)

David

Mr Skaggs,

You must be unfamiliar with geography. Mr Sigman lives in Durango. That is one heck of a long way from Denver and even Colorado Springs. I cannot make that drive in the time I have available...Or I would.

And

Mr Harden,

(You do endear yourself to others with such politeness.)

Is there a Daito ryu dojo or Aunkai group training in Denver? If there is, I'll be happy to venture outside my "self limiting" mindset. Like it or not my present schedule limits me to Denver and Calgary.

FWIW...My box includes the entire planet and your beloved Daito ryu. I'd prefer to remain in that world. However, if I must go outside of that world I'll be happy to do so but, it makes points of reference more difficult for me to absorb and any time on the mat is like a vacation to me given my difficult work schedule.

Best,

Michael Phillips

dps
10-01-2009, 08:06 PM
Mr Skaggs,

You must be unfamiliar with geography. Mr Sigman lives in Durango. That is one heck of a long way from Denver and even Colorado Springs. I cannot make that drive in the time I have available...Or I would.

Yes, but "Durango opportunity'"doesn't sound as good.:)

Seriously,
I think this would be an unique opportunity.
Your experience with many styles and individuals and one of the main proponents of IT meeting.
Maybe he could meet you somewhere nearer your location?

David

Michael Phillips
10-01-2009, 11:41 PM
Yes, but "Durango opportunity'"doesn't sound as good.:)

Seriously,
I think this would be an unique opportunity.
Your experience with many styles and individuals and one of the main proponents of IT meeting.
Maybe he could meet you somewhere nearer your location?

David

Mr Skaggs,

I don't know what charm school you graduated from but I'd actually like to meet Mr Sigman someday, and if I wanted to make sure it went poorly, I'd be so bold as to ask him to drive halfway across a western state to meet my presumptuous hiney.

An opportunity missed is one thing. An opportunity destroyed before it even presents itself is something else entirely.

Thanks for the advice but no. I'll strive to respectfully meet Mr Sigman on his terms, not mine.

Michael Phillips

DH
10-02-2009, 04:12 AM
Mr Harden,
Is there a Daito ryu dojo or Aunkai group training in Denver? If there is, I'll be happy to venture outside my "self limiting" mindset. Like it or not my present schedule limits me to Denver and Calgary.

FWIW...My box includes the entire planet and your beloved Daito ryu. I'd prefer to remain in that world. However, if I must go outside of that world I'll be happy to do so but, it makes points of reference more difficult for me to absorb and any time on the mat is like a vacation to me given my difficult work schedule.

Best,
Michael Phillips
Hello again
I was responding to this

"So, If a guy like me wants to get a taste of this IM skill where do you go to find it in aikido? Do I really have to go outside aikido? I'm suspicious when people say you can't find it in aikido because I think I've felt it numerous times."
Since you were unsure what IT is or feels like and you "think" you might have felt it in Aikido or Daito ryu already-I thought it might do you well to go somewhere where there is no doubt that the person has IT to one degree or another. Then you could at least say. "Okay I have felt it!..." and then compare it to what you thought you felt elswhere; in aikido or otherwise.
That seems like a win/ win for you.
Sorry you took it the way you did.

To which I wanted to add a few points.
a) There are degrees of IT (internal power) and levels of skill in the use of IT, also in degrees in the use of aiki. Finding it all in a single art may be difficult.
b) You noted yourself how certain men accented the harder aspects or the softer ones. In it's ideal expression in/yo ho is balanced in someone adept at internal power. They are neither hard nor soft; they are both. IT is a balanced state of being. So an exponent can display both qualities not only equally-but at the same time in a single movement.
c) You are mistaken to refer to DR as "my beloved Daito ryu." Nothing could be further from the truth. I am no more a fan of Daito ryu than I am over over any other method, just that DR has proven it can produce exceptional men of power.
Anyway, I wish you well in your search.
Dan

dps
10-02-2009, 06:55 AM
Mr Skaggs,

I don't know what charm school you graduated from but I'd actually like to meet Mr Sigman someday, and if I wanted to make sure it went poorly, I'd be so bold as to ask him to drive halfway across a western state to meet my presumptuous hiney.

An opportunity missed is one thing. An opportunity destroyed before it even presents itself is something else entirely.

Thanks for the advice but no. I'll strive to respectfully meet Mr Sigman on his terms, not mine.

Michael Phillips

I meant not for you to ask but for Mike to offer.

David

phitruong
10-02-2009, 10:15 AM
you could try Hiroshi Ikeda in Boulder. he probably tells you that he's working on it/IT. could get some discount on Bujin stuffs at the same time. :)

btw, bring some good coffee as gift, he's enjoy good coffee. ;)

Toby Threadgill
10-02-2009, 11:31 AM
Mr Phillips,

I have received several e-mails asking me to comment on this thread. First of all I agree with Mr Harden that limiting yourself to aikido or Daito ryu is, well, limiting. I understand the point of reference issue you mentioned but in truth koryu jujutsu and Chinese body arts are not that different from Daito ryu or aikido. We all have the same physiology and bend the same way, break the same way. I think you'll find common ground pretty quickly.

Hiroshi Ikeda was mentioned as a possibility. He is a very good friend. We teach together occasionally so I can say with certainty that that he has his own set of skills that manifest internal abilities and training. I highly recommend him but he is in high demand as a seminar instructor and might not be in town when you are.

Apparantly you are also aware of JAA's Seiji Tanaka. Tanaka is also a good friend, and yes, he's still teaching Shodokan down in Denver's Highland Hills. I taught with Tanaka sensei earlier this year and can only comment that I hope I'm still tearing the mat up like he is when I'm 70. His top student and JAA's Chief instructor, Dave Nettles also teaches in Denver and further trains with me in koryu jujutsu up here in Evergreen.

Lastly you could head up into the mountains. TSYR has a very old and structured method for training internal skills. Whether its what Mr Sigman, Harden or Akuzawa is doing is up to the beholder to decide, but you are most welcome to come up and have a feel.

Oh.... You mentioned you trained with Hirokazu Kobayashi during some of his European tours. Did you by chance run into a guy named Josh Aaron? He was a good friend I've lost touch with. He trained with Kobayashi sensei in Japan and traveled with him on several European tours in the late 1980's.

Good luck,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Michael Phillips
10-02-2009, 12:56 PM
Mr Threadgill,

Wow. You're the guy mentioned early in Mr Amdurs book. I had no idea you were in the area near Denver. I'm very interested in whatever you have to offer. I'll send you a PM concerning my schedule and a possible visit.

As for going outside Daito ryu and aikido, I think I have not been very clear. Its not any closed mindedness on my part that's prevented me from exploring other arts besides these, its just been easier for me to relate comparative skills apples to apples if you get my drift. I felt an excellent tai chi practitioner once, and was quite impressed with him but I had no yardstick to quantify what I was feeling. As a result it was an interesting 3 month interlude but I couldn't figure out how to translate what I learned from him into my aikido. I know its my problem but its just easier for me to work inside my own box. I learn best via a very structured methodology. The fact that you described your schools methods as structured really piqued my interest. I'm very curious now as from what I've read it seems the teaching of these methods is quite diverse. The more direct, the better for me.

As for your friend, did he train in Japan and have a Japanese girl friend? I remember Kobayashi sensei attended by a guy from New York and his Japanese girl friend. I do believe his name was Joshua. He was kind of crazy but had wonderful ukemi skills. Could that have been him?

As far as Ikeda sensei and Tanaka sensei, I've had lots of exposure to ASU and Shodokan aikido. At the urging of Mr Harden, I'll take the jump outside my box this trip.

Best wishes,

Michael Phillips

Toby Threadgill
10-02-2009, 02:55 PM
Mr Phillips,

Please feel free to send me that PM. I should be teaching my regular classes up here until mid October when I head to Jimmy Sorrentino's dojo in Arlington, VA.

&

Crazy...Japanese girl friend...great ukemi.....in Europe with Kobayashi sensei. Yes, that must have been Josh Aaron.

Toby Threadgill

SeiserL
10-03-2009, 08:21 AM
Ikeda Sensei and Threadgill Sensei.

I couldn't recommend either higher.

I also agree with Amdur Sensei and Harden. Sometimes things are so hidden in plain sight that you have to step outside the box to see what is in it. Please do not limit yourself.

Michael Phillips
10-08-2009, 09:19 PM
Hi,

Following the advice of Mr Seiser and Mr Harden, I visited Toby Threadgill in Evergreen Colorado. The crow is swallowed. Very simply, the guy blew my mind into another universe. I am now in processing mode. I always thought koryu jujutsu was crude and unrefined compared to aikido. I don't know what to say beyond I now have to reconsider everything I've always thought about budo and koryu. Amazing.

Thanks for the prodding and valuable advice.

Michael Phillips

SeiserL
10-09-2009, 10:31 AM
Very simply, the guy blew my mind into another universe. I am now in processing mode.
The man is like that.
Glad you went.
Compliments.

thisisnotreal
10-12-2009, 06:51 PM
...The crow is swallowed.
...Very simply, the guy blew my mind into another universe. I am now in processing mode. ....
I don't know what to say beyond I now have to reconsider everything I've always thought about budo and koryu. Amazing.

whoah.
Mr Phillips....... penny for your thoughts?

Cheers,
Josh P.

Michael Phillips
10-13-2009, 12:09 AM
Hello Josh,

Perhaps my saying “everything” was a bit too strong but a great many things I have always believed about martial arts are being reprocessed due to my visit.

Threadgill sensei was polite and accommodating when I arrived at his Takemura Shindo Yoshin ryu dojo in the Colorado mountains but he told me the visit had to be short as he could only afford me maybe 45 minutes. At first I was disappointed by this but that changed. After 45 minutes my brain was full. Now, I’m no lightweight at 5’10” and 230 lbs and I’m also about 12 years Threadgill sensei’s junior. From appearances I think I must outweigh Threadgill sensei by perhaps 40 pounds, but in the end, size was irrelevant. Very simply, he went thru me like I wasn’t even there. No matter how hard I resisted his technique, he effortlessly executed his Yoshin ryu stuff on me. One kata in particular dumped me harder and faster than anything I’ve ever experienced. The crazy thing was I never really felt the technique being applied so I couldn’t resist it. I was just standing there trying to restrain him and pow, I hit the floor! It was amazing.

When I asked him about the Yoshin ryu internal strength stuff mentioned in Ellis Amdurs recent book, he showed me several rather simple looking exercises that were like a mix of yoga and Tai Chi. He said there are a total of 16 of these solo exercises in Yoshin ryu. He taught me one and I realized simple looking does not mean easy. It will take some diligent practice to get this single exercise right.

He next demonstrated an example of internal strength where he stood with his feet wide apart, placed his elbow on his pelvis, and with his arm pointing straight outwards, defeated any attempt to unbalance him. Even when he allowed me to grab his wrist with both hands and push his elbow directly into his pelvis, I could not budge him. Finally, I pushed so hard that my front foot came completely off the ground and he just twitched tossing me to the side. This was no ki trick. All my power was attacking him 90 degrees opposite his postures strength, a direction where he should have no stability. Before experiencing this in person I would not have believed this possible. I still don’t fully understand how he does what he does but he explained that he was using energy paths in his body to root and deflect my power. When he applied this skill in executing actual technique I felt like I experienced a new level of budo. No matter how hard I resisted a technique, he walked right thru my strength in what felt like a completely relaxed state. I asked him if this was the “aiki” some people said was lost from aikido. He said he couldn’t really say, but that to remember aiki is just a word. He said the skill he demonstrated has many different names and manifestations, but in Shindo Yoshin ryu its part of their upper level teachings identified as mysterious. Whatever it was, whatever its called, it was very cool.

Now for all the aikidoka out there, this next bit really tweaked me up. Threadgill sensei told me that, similar to aikido, in his style of jujutsu they practice a series of kata called misogi no gyo with origins in Shinto. I thought, good, an apples to apples comparison I can relate directly to what I do in my aikido. Well, we don’t doour misogi no gyo like he does. He performed what he called torifune and told me it was part of their mizu no gyo kata (I’ve always called this exercise funakogi undo of the kihon dosa). In all my years of aikido training I’ve never really been taught exactly how to do this exercise. I was just expected to imitate my seniors. Sure, every once in a while someone would offer, do this or don’t do that, but there was no real explanation or in depth instruction of funakogi undo. In 5 minutes with Threagill sensei I learned more about funakogi undo than I’ve learned in all my years of aikido training. You can just feel the ki emanating from this guy during his execution, and watching his body you can’t help but notice that he’s doing something different, something internally. The coordination of all these intricate movements he performs in this exercise create a very unusual look to the outward form. I asked if I could grab his wrists to feel his ki and pow, I bounced off the floor on my rump 6 feet away. I’ll never look at aikido’s kihon dosa the same way again.

So, to Mr Harden, I am now a convert. If this stuff is in aikido, its so rare and far between, or seldom explained, that its worth expanding my horizons to include outside studies. I’m now positive if I meet Mr Sigman or Mr Akuzawa I’ll be inclined to investigate the Chinese stuff they are doing. I now wonder how deep this rabbit hole goes? Right now the Takemura Shindo Yoshin ryu hole seems like a goldmine.

So, a rhetorical question. Where have these guys been all these years? I mean, I’ve barely heard of Threadgill sensei. I know he was invited to teach at Stan Pranin’s Aiki Expo once but nobody really talks about him. After all my travels I find this seemingly normal guy in a little dojo in the Colorado mountains and he trips my breakers. He tells me he has around 12 students. This is crazy. He should have hundreds of students. How many more people like this are there, hiding in obscure corners around the world doing this level of budo?

I’m still processing all the info I gleaned during my visit last week but I’m also pretty tweaked. Many years of my training now seem wasted on an aikido treadmill. After my visit to Threadgill sensei’s dojo, Mr Amdurs book hits home now more than ever. I’m convinced every aikidoka interested in the technical validity of their study needs find someone who can introduce them to these skills.

Michael Phillips

Keith Larman
10-13-2009, 12:49 AM
Imagine how you would feel after a couple 6 hour days of training with Toby. I'm still digesting after Lovato and Elias' shindig a few weeks ago...

I remember, geez, 8-10 years ago (man, that long ago already?) first meeting Toby when he was out here picking up a sword from a good friend of mine. We all went to a tameshigiri seminar to answer questions on the sword craft/maintenance end then dropped by Don Angier's place (if I'm remembering correctly). Geez, been too many years. Anyway, just the conversations during a long drive about Aikido, some of the names out there, koryu, and even a few discussions about a few familiar claims and personalities getting traction only now... Funny, I'd forgotten about that till now.

But yes, Toby Threadgill is an absolute fire-house of information. That's the blessing and the problem. Too much to digest. And remember you're just getting the "public" stuff. The "outside" version. There's all the stuff that's for official students only. I can't even begin to imagine how deep the rabbit hole goes...

Either the well was very deep, or she fell very slowly, for she had plenty of time as she went down to look about her, and to wonder what was going to happen next. -- Lewis Carroll

Seems apropos.

I need to figure out how I can convince my wife to free me up for yet something else to study... So much to learn in so many areas. And so little time... I suppose I could trade sword work... Hmmm... :D

Upyu
10-13-2009, 02:12 AM
I’m now positive if I meet Mr Sigman or Mr Akuzawa I’ll be inclined to investigate the Chinese stuff they are doing

Just a quick clarification, since I noticed that this gets misunderstood (which is totally understandable given Ark's rather confusing history), but most of the stuff Ark (Akuzawa) does has it's origins in Japanese Kobujutu. One of his main teachers when he was younger was from the Yagyu Shingan and Shinkage line (mentioned in the Aikido Journal article).

He just happened to be affiliated with a Chinese MA school when he was competing etc. He used what he learned to reverse engineer the CMA he learned earlier (in particular Hsing-i) and dig out certain "aspects" of training...in the process creating the training methodology he has now, which is still changing.
Weapons training, most notably staff, and sword training are essential tools in short-circuiting the developmental process. All of the training came from JMA.

I've seen a couple of articles out there that seem to think that Ark has a more CMA, or "Chinese" sourced slant...which couldn't be further from the truth.

eyrie
10-13-2009, 04:16 AM
Thanks for the highly informative post Michael.

jss
10-13-2009, 05:23 AM
He next demonstrated an example of internal strength where he stood with his feet wide apart, placed his elbow on his pelvis, and with his arm pointing straight outwards, defeated any attempt to unbalance him. [emphasis mine, jss]
What was the correct term again? Hidden in plain sight? ;)

thisisnotreal
10-13-2009, 09:28 AM
Hi Michael,
That was a great post.
Yes, I wonder too, how many elite gents are out quietly honing their skills.
Here are some more questions for you (if you feel inclined to respond)
::regarding the feeling of wasting time;
-looking back do you see signposts that you didn't then understand?
-looking back, do you feel betrayed?
-looking back, do you think you needed to go through all your training only to understand the value of what it is you now see?
-looking forwards, would you change the way you train?
-do you see that some teachers that you thought had 'IT' in fact do?

It is a very interesting experience you are having. Thank you for sharing (!!).

On a slightly unrelated note, and on the off-chance that Mr. Threadgill is scanning this thread, did you by chance speak about a book that he was to write with Shingo Ohgami?

I remember this post from a while back...OK! I found it.


I'm working on a book with budo historian Shingo Ohgami in which I intend to cover TSYR's internal training in more detail (http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showpost.php?p=216608&postcount=43)

From this page< (http://www.koryu.com/library/tthreadgill1.html)
I searched a bit, a while back; and am not sure that I found the book he was referencing.
Mr. Threadgill - if you see this; I would definitely love to know more, and/or if I missed the title.

Again; Michael thanks again for your post. It is extremely interesting.

Thank you both kindly.
Best,
Josh P.

DH
10-13-2009, 10:42 AM
Michael Phillips;
So, to Mr Harden, I am now a convert. If this stuff is in aikido, its so rare and far between, or seldom explained, that its worth expanding my horizons to include outside studies. I'm now positive if I meet Mr Sigman or Mr Akuzawa I'll be inclined to investigate the Chinese stuff they are doing. I now wonder how deep this rabbit hole goes? Right now the Takemura Shindo Yoshin ryu hole seems like a goldmine.

So, a rhetorical question. Where have these guys been all these years? I mean, I've barely heard of Threadgill sensei. Michael Phillips
You are welcome. I have never felt Toby's skills. I recommended him based on his being vetted to me by others I trust.

You might note that his skills came by way of Koryu. There are things that can be said about some of the body skills in Koryu; unfortunately it cannot be discussed. Most everyone in Koryu made vows not to disclose things about their training. Most men take giving their word seriously enough that they won't talk about their forays into Koryu. Even those with the authority to discuss things, usually only do so in certain "company." In the case of Toby-what Toby chooses to disclose, and the extent of what he does or does not know is reserved for students of his- or I imagine, close friends.

Japanase or Chinese
An interesting observation to make is that Ark and I both got our skills in Japanese arts; gendai and koryu. Those skills have been tested against master level teachers from the ICMA and it is going rather well. Now you have Mike who got his skills from the ICMA. That should tell you something; namely that the knowledge is in both cultures. Personally, I think it is deeper in the ICMA, but as yet I haven't been too impressed with any of their teachers ability to actually use what they "know" in a manner that is all that impressive over what I learned in the Japanese method. At the end of the day, it isn't about head knowledge, it's about usable skills.

You wonder where "These people have been?" "Why you have never heard of them?"
The ones I know of have a history like my own; training privately, so there is little exposure to the more popular, general budo world.
The results of that training and experimentation is "impacting" the "aiki" world for some, and a broader, judo, karate, and MMA world for others.

In any event I think the testimony here by hundreds of people has verified that comparatively-maybe that way of training...was a good thing!
The important thing, is what to do next...for you. We live in an unprecedented time for budo, where these skills are being discussed and taught openly for the first time. Do you want to be back here next year "Ooohing and ahhing" some more, or on the road to gaining skills for yourself that will make you stand out from the budo wallpaper.
Good luck in your training
Dan

Michael Phillips
10-13-2009, 11:06 AM
Hi Josh,

"looking back do you see signposts that you didn't then understand?"

I'm not sure. I'm still processing what I saw and felt. It was so different. Probably the closest to this was some of the stuff I felt from Kobayashi sensei, but that was a long time ago and I was very young. I believe Threadgill sensei is doing someing else too. It's very difficult to describe in words. Pressing one arm, palm to palm, through a jo...I couldn't budge the guy. This was something new to me.

"-looking back, do you feel betrayed?"

Not betrayed. I don't think there has been any malicious attempt to withold or deny anything. I just think the combination of depth of understanding and cultural difficulties with knowledge passing has created a void. This has been magnified by the uke/tori relationship where overly cooperative training means we are never training against full resistance. I'm telling you, I really put the juice on Threagill sensei and he walked right through me. It was mind blowing given our size difference. Without a training partner who really resists, how can you learn to do what Threadgill sensei is doing? I asked him this very question and his answer was excellent but so complex I'm not sure I can describe it adequately. Essentially in his art they have a sliding scale that ultimately ends up in full force resistence. He told me one of his top students is the chief instructor of JAA Tomiki under Tanaka sensei in Denver and he said their experience with full resistence in Tomiki has been a big factor in this students progress. Interestingly Threagill sensei was very complimentary of Hiroshi Ikeda's internal skills. Given what Threadgill sensei told me, someone should host these guys together. That would be quite a learning opportunity.

"looking back, do you think you needed to go through all your training only to understand the value of what it is you now see?"

To some degree, yes. I wouldn't give up my past experience but I do wish I had access to this type of skill earlier. I am still confident that some people have pieces of this puzzle in aikido but they have not gathered them together the way Threadgill sensei and some other guys like Akuzawa have. I think the problem is endemic with aikido's method of knowledge transmission. How many times do our teachers, especially highly ranked teachers, take ukemi from their students? I've never had someone as highly ranked as Kobayashi or Utada take ukemi from me. Threadgill sensei was talking ukemi from me so he could feel me and correct me. Always being the uke to a senior tori is inherently limiting if you think about it.

"looking forwards, would you change the way you train?

I think I've answered that in the affirmative.

"do you see that some teachers that you thought had 'IT' in fact do?"

Yes. I think Kobayashi and Saito did. I think Okamoto does. But, have they taught it? I'm not so sure. I felt Pat Hendricks once and was impressed with her power given her small size but I think I could have overpowered her If I had wanted to. Her power generation was very direct like Saito's. Kobayashi's was much more elusive, like Threadgill sensei's.

"did you by chance speak about a book that he was to write with Shingo Ohgami?"

No. Who is Shingo Ohgami? Man, I'm buying the book!

Michael Phillips

Toby Threadgill
10-13-2009, 12:17 PM
Hello,

Pardon me, but this feels very weird. Reading about myself like this.... I think "Are they talking about me?" LOL

Michael,

Thank you for the kind words. I know your visit had to be short but you were quite respectful, so you are welcome back during future forays to Denver. I encourage you to go anywhere and everywhere you can to learn... If I wasn't beholden to TSYR, I'd be a budo mutt, learning from as many sources as possible. But koryu is not like that. My job as the TSYR kaicho requires maintaining archaic traditions that are quite diverse and that is a full time job. Those outside koryu cannot appreciate the weight of what it is we are tying to do. It is mind numbing in it's complexity and political intrigue, especially when your eyes are not as almond shaped as some would prefer.

Josh,

Shingo Ohgami is a budo historian who was introduced to me by my teacher, Takamura sensei. He is most well known in the karate community an advanced Wado ryu practitioner, but he is also an advanced student of several koryu. We are writing a book on Shindo Yoshin ryu history and technique, but our historical research is still ongoing with at least one more research trip to Japan in the cards. Consequently, a publishing date for our book is still undetermined. FWIW, Shindo Yoshin ryu is to Wado ryu, what Daito ryu is to Aikido, so the book will have an obvious bias towards the Wado ryu practitioner.

and Dan,

Thanks for the comments and accurate explanation of koryu culture.

I'd like to expand on something Dan said. Koryu are rather secretive and people need to understand that this is not out of some desire to be snobs or believe ourselves superior to others. We take an oath to protect the veracity of our lineages. If too much information is placed in the public domain charlatans will inevitably try to attach themselves to our traditions in an attempt to legitimize themselves and fraudulently lay claim to something that the have no investment in. In TSYR our curriculum is divided into categories which determine what I can teach outside the formal student, and what I can't. So at public seminar I am free to teach our sotoden, our "outside the walls" curriculum. ( I'm not sure how many koryu are similarly organized.) So, half the Yoshin ryu internal training methods are officially sotoden. I'm pleased people are interested in them and finding them useful in whatever art thy study.

On Aikido

Aikido is a wonderful expression of budo but like all forms of budo it suffers from its own unique issues surrounding isolation and transmission. I encourage everyone in aikido to not limit themselves and keep an open mind to the possibilities of broadening their access to knowledge. Exceptional aikidoka like Ikeda sensei are at the level they are because they know how to pull relevant information and skills into their bodies from various sources. This is something I have found common in many of the aikido greats.

Respectfully,

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

odudog
10-15-2009, 06:15 PM
Threadgill Sensei,
Could you please list the teaching catagories of your art? I'm curious for my own reasons, mostly Japanese language learning. I'm asking for I will most likely forget to ask you about this at the seminar this weekend in VA.

Toby Threadgill
10-16-2009, 12:51 AM
Mike,

The "teaching categories" ? I'm sorry but I don't understand your question. Just clarify during the Q&A tomorrow and I'll try to better understand your question.

Nice to see your coming back this year.

All my best,

Toby

Ernesto Lemke
10-17-2009, 03:14 PM
About 5 or 6 years ago Threadgill Sensei took the trouble to pass through the Netherlands for a short stop on his way to a Wado-ryu seminar in Germany. Due to my aikido sensei being a student of his, we where honoured with his visit. I, along with a fellow student and my teacher, where fortunate enough to spend the afternoon with Threadgill Sensei in a sunny garden, enjoying a beer or two. I found him to be straightforward, humble, generous and filled with many a budo story, all shared in a passionate and humorous fashion.

Luckily for me, we also spend some time in my friends small private dojo. The ‘training' was very informal. We just took off our shoes and socks and Threadgill Sensei started showing us TSYR applications while we where all still wearing jeans. Threadgill Sensei was all laughs and very talkative while he was dropping us onto the mat in turn. Some applications where identifiable, to my beginners eye, as solid jujutsu. Some of these where mechanically extremely painful. But the unidentifiable ones where amazing in its unidentifiability. I just lost my structure and base continuously without knowing how. I just grabbed, held on with what I got, felt my strength say "bye bye" and then I was hitting the mat. Many times it felt like my structure was just collapsing on itself. At that time I was somewhat into Systema and Threadgill Sensei showed us that slow sparring as a drill existed within TSYR as well. D*mn those headbutts…

This was all prior to the IS/IT/IP discussions emerging. The buzzword then was "aiki" which I didn't ask Threadgill Sensei about. Actually, I feel like I failed to ask anything intelligent then. I was happy listening and feeling for the most part but I can't recall Threadgill Sensei saying anything about IS/IT/IP nor use the word "Aiki." That there was an internal drive to his power is something which I can only identify in retrospect. But I didn't know back then, thus, I didn't ask. Threadgill Sensei may very well have talked about IT but if he was, I was dumb enough to not listen very well.
From all the things he said I mostly recall the enormous admiration he had (has) for Kuroda Sensei. In the way he expressed that, I witnessed Rei at its finest.

Threadgill Sensei will certainly have gone on to become yet an even better practitioner and teacher. If it was "aiki" I felt, I can't say. But I can say that apart from some similar "weird feeling" (but nowadays more or less identifiable) experiences at the hands of my own teacher, I never felt anything from anyone within the aikido community that could be in the same category. I actually stopped attending aikido seminars as a result and am now focused on IT as it is contained within the aikido lineage of my teacher. But…I am interested in finding IT elsewhere, anywhere.

I find it remarkable that the interest in IT and the limited number of qualified instructors is concentrated mostly in the US. Far as qualified instructors on IT go, the names of Dan, Mike and Ark are the ones that are mostly raised. But I would propose Threadgill Sensei as another qualified candidate seeing as his recent seminar specifically featured IT as well. There aren't too many instructors out there teaching IT publicly, specifically, far as I'm aware. And those that do just don't happen to live or teach that frequently around this part of the globe with the exception of Threadgill Sensei.
Therefore I can't stand the fact I missed the one seminar Akuzawa Sensei conducted in the Netherlands a couple of years ago. Anyone know if there's a change for a follow up on that?
Regarding the Sigmanar experience I'll just have to ask fellow Dutchmen Joep about that if we ever hook up. And lastly, I don't see Dan visiting Europe (Holland!) any time soon but in case you do, consider me as the first applicant.
Best regards,

Ernesto Lemke