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Old 02-14-2011, 01:21 PM   #14
Toby Threadgill
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 166
Re: Future of Aikido


I hope this does not come off as too preachy but.....

I fail to understand what all the hair pulling is about. Modern budo enjoys freedom to evolve, adapt and improve as it's history is in the making, not made. Koryu on the other hand is much more restrictive, striving to maintain and preserve, in the manner of a historical preservation society. Both have their strengths and challenges to face but they also have very different reasons to be.

Look, why shouldn't aikido instructors look outside aikido for technical perspective and knowledge? Aikido is not koryu and not technically unique. It is aikido's ethos that makes it a unique representation of Nihon budo. It appears that some aikidoka are so closed minded as be threatened by perspectives existing outside their own art? It's almost like a level of insecurity is embraced by some aikidoka and that by stepping outside some imagined boundaries they are abandoning or compromising their beloved aikido. IMHO, this is nonsense. Aikido is all about manifesting flexibility isn't it? It seems to me that aikido's ability to function with a flexible paradigm is one of its its primary benefits. Ikeda sensei and I are good friends and we teach together every year. The topic of aikido's evolution is a frequent subject of conversation between us. I may lead a koryu jujutsu school but I enjoy interacting with an aikidoka like Ikeda sensei because we actually have a lot in common. To a guy like me who see's the context of budo in a manner that is perhaps more historical than most, aikido is just one modern jujutsu school among many. Consequently, our traditions share so many common principles that a real technical meeting of the minds is possible between us. Why such a technical meeting of the minds should threaten anyone in aikido is beyond my capability to grasp. It certainly doesn't threaten a wonderful and gifted aikidoka like Ikeda.

Let me provide something interesting and relevent....

Wado ryu karate is technically descended from Shindo Yoshin ryu jujutsu and Okinawan Te. So, Shindo Yoshin ryu is to Wado ryu karate what Daito ryu is to aikido. I have a very close relationship to many Wadoka, in fact I have several Wado ryu shihan in my organization and have taught seminars alongside Japanese Wado ryu shihan representing JKF Wadokai's technical committee. This is unprecedented but makes sense given the two schools historical connection. I have met with the JKF Wadokai Board of Directors in Tokyo and taught a seminar at their World Cup. Sure, my presence is raising eyebrows and making some of the old timers uncomfortable, but the technical heritage and historical perspective TSYR brings to many Wado ryu practitioners is so obviously positive that many of todays up and coming Wado ryu instructors view TSYR as an important resource which promotes a more cohesive understanding of their Wado ryu both technically and historically. Understand...most of these Wado ryu people have no interest in becoming students of a koryu jujutsu school with its arcane perspectives and practices, they just recognize TSYR for what it is, a technical and historical link to their legacy. It is an example "Keiko Shokan" or studying the past to understand the present.

Despite all aikido's lip service about flexibility of spirit and harmonious relationships can you guys imagine a seminar where the technical head of aikido and the technical head of Daito ryu got together in an effort to appreciate their shared technical legacy and historical relationship to one another? How many of you think a one on one meeting like this would ever be possible, but how many of you would love to attend this event? It's almost as if aikido suffers from institutionalized technical paranoia.'s the good news. A new generation of aikido instructors are saying technical isolation is nonsense, and steeping out into the public arena with confidence and an open mind. They understand that aikido is more than a series of techniques, it is an art rich in principles and theory. These people understand that principles compatible with aikido exist in other arts and are willing to go outside aikido to investigate them regardless of their origin, whether it be a koryu like TSYR, an aikijujutsu school like Daito ryu, a Okinawan karate school like Shindo ryu or one of the many internal Chinese martial arts. It is these open minded instructors that demonstrate real love for the art and legacy of aikido. They are not abandoning aikido, they are the ones dedicated to making aikido's future brighter.

After years of study in modern budo I chose to follow the path of koryu. Why is a subject for another day, but to the aikido community I say, embrace the flexibility that modern budo has to offer you and seek to improve on the foundation of knowledge provided for you. Who knows, by manifesting such flexibility of spirit aikido's golden age may be in the future, not its past.

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Last edited by Toby Threadgill : 02-14-2011 at 01:30 PM.
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