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Old 10-13-2009, 11:06 AM   #26
Michael Phillips
Location: Camden, New Jersey
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 12
Re: Internal Training in Aikido in Colorado Springs/Denver?

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
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:17 PM   #27
Toby Threadgill
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 166
Re: Internal Training in Aikido in Colorado Springs/Denver?


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


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.


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.


Toby Threadgill / TSYR
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Old 10-15-2009, 06:15 PM   #28
Dojo: Dale City Aikikai
Location: VA
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 393
Re: Internal Training in Aikido in Colorado Springs/Denver?

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.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:51 AM   #29
Toby Threadgill
Location: Evergreen, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 166
Re: Internal Training in Aikido in Colorado Springs/Denver?


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,

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Old 10-17-2009, 03:14 PM   #30
Ernesto Lemke
Dojo: Seikokan , Leeuwarden
Location: Leeuwarden. the Netherlands
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 150
Re: Internal Training in Aikido in Colorado Springs/Denver?

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
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