View Full Version : Yachigusa-ryu Aiki Bugei (Gary Moro)

Stéphan Thériault
4th July 2002, 03:44
Just found a new "aiki" school, thought I would post it in case no one had seen it yet.


4th July 2002, 05:15
I can't find any historical reference for this art anywhere. I am no expert on koryu arts but Sensei Moro's explantion of how he received a menkyo kaiden seems quite incredible. Like I said I am no expert here so i'm hoping someone with more expertise in this area can enlighten us further about this art and Sensei Moro. Hopefully some of his students are members here and can offer more background on this art.

I aslo see in the “About Gary Moro Sensei” (http://www.geocities.com/yachigusaryu/GaryMoroSensei.html) page he has an affiliation with:

USMA (United States Martial Arts Association) - founded by Phil Porter. Gary Moro was awarded a 6th Dan Black Belt by USMA. He is also on their board of directors representing California, and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in August 2000 as Master Instructor For the State of California.

at the bottom of the page is the following disclaimer:

*While a member of these organizations it does not mean he involves himself in any with their politics, supports or justifies their positions on the merits, abilities, or skills of instructors related, or not related, within their organizations, or believes one organization has more validity to represent the arts than another.

I guess thats a good thing.:smilejapa

4th July 2002, 08:43
I disagree, I don't see how that is a good thing at all.

A better way of distancing himself from the Phil Porters of the world would be: "I was made a member of the board of Phil Porter's USMAA. While he is part of my past, I renounce all memberships in such organizations because I had nothing whatsoever to do with being named to Porter's BOD or his Hall of Fame. Anyone who wishes to know why anyone else has made me a member of any group listed should contact them. I don't know why they did so, either."

Porter's group, as well as others, have been known to blindly make just about anyone a member of his BOD and his Hall of Shame. In fact, he has stated that every martial artist should be in the HOS, thus making the entire crusade as deeply mired in BS and making a joke of himself, something he, apparently, doesn't mind.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust this guy as far as I could e-throw him out the front door. What I read are excuses.

Now a statement like that would probably endear him to a lot more people who have nothing to do with the USMAA or any other organization from which he has received rank, including the one which states "rank pending."

Nope. Nothing good about him on that web site whatsoever.


4th July 2002, 22:26

When I said “I guess thats a good thing” about Mr. Moro's disclaimer I was being facetious.

If Mr. Moro had studied a real koryu bujutsu I'm sure he wouldn't want to associate himself with people like Phil Porter.

You said:

Nothing good about him on that web site whatsoever.

I couldn't agree with you more.:smilejapa

5th July 2002, 09:23
Sorry, Jimmy. I didn't mean to imply anything about your reason for stating the obvious but it did come off that way now that I reread my own post. :nw: I've just come across a lot of folks lately denying their associations with these people, but not acting on their disclaimers.

To be fair, I also know some good people who have shed themselves of these organizations with perfectly good reasons for going there so that should also have been noted in my post.


Stéphan Thériault
1st March 2007, 05:04
Has anyone heard of the Yachigusa-ryu Aiki Bugei? There is an article by them on Aikido Journal, wich is where I came across them. When I looked at their web page my spidy sense went off. First the story sounds like a cross between mr. Angier's and that ninjutsu guy in Bloodsport. Then there is the pic of mr. Moro, he is wearing a kimono with a black t-shirt underneath, he also wears the "skirt" part of kendo armor. Anyhow this is their web site: http://yachigusaryu.com/

1st March 2007, 15:47
this was covered in the bad budo section

1st March 2007, 16:06
looks like it got removed or something, basically yachigusa is a japanese name no one has ever heard of, theres no hiroshi yachigusa mentioned on any census documents anywhere in the us, nor his son "jiro" or daughter who moro states is somewhere in tokyo. someone from ebudo looks up the name given for the daughter in tokyo and the person didn't exist.

1st March 2007, 18:05
Yachigusa. (http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32268)

spencer burns
2nd March 2007, 08:30
For whatever it is or isn't worth, Gary Moro has posted his comments on the AJ thread (http://www.aikidojournal.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=10072) on the YR blog (http://www.yachigusaryu.com/blog) and is not interested in joining these discussion board.

For questions about Yachigusa-Ryu's provenance, I'd encourage you to read our History FAQ (http://www.yachigusaryu.com/about_FAQ.html) for starters.

In the end, there aren't many concrete answers; the school is what it is--with no proof of lineage.

Nobody is going to be convinced of anything new by futher Internet discussion.

Just to be OCD tho', the previous thread was in "Baffling Budo," not "Bad Budo."

Since this discussion came about from a link to the the essay Gary and I wrote about back pressure (http://www.yachigusaryu.com/blog/2006/11/top-ten-principles-of-yachigusa-ryu_30.html) that was posted on the Aikido Journal front page (http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=2991), I would encourage people to read the other essays on principles he has written and think for themselves whether they are informative or confusing, derivative or original, worthwhile or blog-rants. Those (and other essays of varying interest) are available on our archive of blog posts (http://yachigusaryu.com/blog/older.html).

(And just to mention: I'd post this on AJ, but their account creation is being more of a pain than I care to deal with).

2nd March 2007, 18:51
In one of his final public announcements I recall Angier sensei saying that he leaves it to others to "pick over the bones."

Welcome to the party.

Neil Yamamoto
2nd March 2007, 19:57
Wait, wait, if you take all the bones, how will I make a stock for tomorrows soup?!

One thing on the blog I do agree with, no one is going to change their minds on the topic, it's pretty one way or the other here.

By the way, it's Mr. ELIAS, not Mr. ELLIS

(But that line makes me think of Ellis Amdur in the movie MASH with a houseboy running around cleaning up after him, calling out "Mr. Ellis, Mr. Ellis, I shine shoes for you!"

Stéphan Thériault
2nd March 2007, 20:22
Thank you everyone for the replies. I did not think to check the bad or baffling budo sections, since well frankly I never read those.

Richard Elias
2nd March 2007, 23:17
We first met Gary Morrow in the early ‘90’s it was at the first Yanagi ryu seminar he attended, at Aikido of Diablo Valley (ADV). He showed up in a brand new black karate gi and black belt. During the lunch break we were at the same table and discussed martial arts and our varied experience. He spoke about his experience with kobudo weapons and kyushojutsu and asked John and I if we knew where to obtain a tinbe (a small hand held shield used in Okinawan arts, sometimes made from a turtle shell and used in conjunction with a short spear called a rochin). He said he had limited experience with sword but had learned quite a bit of spear from his teacher. There was no mention of jutte, tessen, naginata or hojojutsu. You think he would have if he did them since we do too, but whatever.

The next day he arrived with a hakama. I was in the dressing room with him when he was putting it on. He basically took all the straps and tied them in a bow, then rolled up the hakama around the straps til it was about four inches off the ground, whereas his gi pants went down to his feet. I asked him about the way he wore it and he told me “it’s the combat tie… my teacher taught it to me”. I told him I have seen many traditional ways of tying a hakama and that isn’t one of them. I later showed him how to wear it properly.

I would in the future show him how to tie an obi, the difference between a men’s kimono and a woman’s, how to put on a tasuke and various other things. The lessons usually started with him saying “could you show me how to do this, my teacher taught me a long time ago and I don’t remember, it’s been so long since I wore one of these things”. I usually just smiled to myself and showed him how.

The first time I went to his dojo he was hosting Angier sensei, it was a joint venture with ADV. The dojo walls were covered with Okinawan weapons, tonfa, nunchaku, sai, etc. etc. There were pictures of students in karate gi posing in karate stances, doing techniques with and without the aforementioned weapons. So Gary never studied karate… ok, I supposed he just “adopted” that also.

The next year we went the decor was significantly different. There were now bokken and jo on the walls, a naginata, and pictures of students in kimono and hakama, using knives and swords and doing techniques that are distinctly Yanagi-esque. His students arrived dressed in kimono and hakama, using twine for tasuke.

The following years saw them getting more and more Yanagi-like. I even had one of his students (Spencer) presuming to correct me on a sword draw that had come from us.

We always tolerated he and his students with amusement. He was always really nice and respectful and seemed eager to learn. It was just their little group so we didn’t care.

With regard to the content of his site, his art and his response to my previous statements…

The principles on the site are listed as “principles of Yachigusa ryu” not Yanagi ryu. Frankly that’s not giving credit when you list things you got from someone else as your own, regardless on how much you have elaborated on them, especially if you are calling them the same thing. They weren’t “your” principles, as you say in one of your essays, you are just using them as a basis to explain what you do. There’s a difference, those specific principles weren’t recognized in your system before you met Don Angier. Yes, science is science and all movements in martial arts can be defined by essentially the same principles. But not all systems are even aware of those particular principles or operate by them. You got those principles from Don Angier, not your teacher. If you were to rewrite Newton’s laws of physics and say they were Yachigusa principles of physics I think there would be an issue and people would call you on it.

As far as the photos and whatnot, and not being able to learn from video… Frankly Gary that’s BS. You won’t have learned it correctly to be sure, but many of the things you depict your students doing are distinctly Yanagi techniques (though notably not the Osoto gari), some of the examples taken directly from the videos of Yanagi ryu. Yanagi ryu has a unique look and flavor to it, even among other Japanese budo, it’s rather noticeable that you are copying it since virtually no extant ryuha do some things like we do. Just like if you were imitating Katori ryu it would be equally as noticeable.

Sword turn, walking the circle, our rainbow block, the seiza exercises and lay-over techniques, the jutte techniques. Sorry but you didn’t learn any of that from your teacher, that’s Yanagi ryu.

Gary, my personal issue is not that you “adopted” Yanagi ryu techniques and principles into your system, many have. And I don’t care at all about your lineage. It’s that you are imitating Yanagi ryu as much as possible and claiming you learned all this from your teacher, and doing so in public venues such as the internet. Saying Angier sensei just helped you to understand it, when it wasn’t there in the first place, or had a better way of doing it doesn’t change the fact that you are trying to do Yanagi ryu material and pass it off as your own. As you said, you didn’t learn these things directly, so you never got the okuden that goes with them, and there isn’t that much detail in the videos. It shows in how you have attempted to teach your students Yanagi ryu techniques as Yachigusa ryu. I and others have experienced this first hand. Your own student realized this when he came to our dojo and found how many “similarities” there were, and then realized Yanagi ryu had to be the source, but more precise and functional. It appears you have created Yanagi lite… just one calorie, not Yanagi enough. It was one thing when it was just you and your little group, but now it’s on the net and being spread unto public forums. Not acceptable, and thus my speaking out now.

Maybe you should fess-up and tell your students the truth so they don’t resent you later when they find out for themselves. Everyone else can make up their own minds.

spencer burns
3rd March 2007, 05:33

It saddens me that this has gotten so personal. We always enjoyed seeing you at the annual Yanagi ryu seminars and have missed your presence since you've had a falling out with them. Personally I had hoped that we could have maintained a good relationship with your school and I would like to have had the opportunity to learn from you in the future. It is unfortunate that the line of decorum has been crossed.

There really isn't much point in arguing back your accusations tit-for-tat; you are talking about events from fifteen years ago and your word will trump ours in this arena anyway. I do however think that some color can be brought in by reading Gary's account of the first time he met Don Angier and what it meant to him: http://www.yachigusaryu.com/blog/2006/04/looking-back-don-angier-seminar-1994.html

Since you brought me personally in to your rant however, I'd like to say that I can't think of any time where I would have flat out corrected you on something. I too can be pointless arrogant however, and I'm sure I said something stupid, rude, and overly familiar that could be easily misconstrued. But I've never deluded myself into thinking I know anywhere near as much about the martial arts as you do. I am an eight-hour-a-week hobbyist with a lot else to distract me, while your entire life revolved around Yanagi ryu for many years.

This really seems to be a tempest in a teapot for all of us barbarians trying to be something we're not. But in the end, a lot of the misunderstanding here seems to be based on a disconnect between what the martial arts mean to you and us. We are not trying to preserve an art or a piece of culture; we are not trying to BE a style. We are just a handful of folks in a garage trying to do what we can to improve our application and understanding of techniques (and the principle list on the blog was done more for our own benefit than for the small readership, while much of the essays are probably wrong, working on it was very edifying).

Look at it this way: Gary was not transmitted an anywhere near to complete art. He learned techniques by rote without understanding them, and had a lot of holes in his education. He has been trying to fill in those gaps by learning what he can, where he can. There is no pretending that his style is pristine and original; he freely admits in class that certain techniques are syncretic while fitting in the loose framework of what he learned from his teacher.

Perhaps there is too much Yanagi influence in how Gary has learned to improve techniques since Mr. Angier has been the best voice we have heard; certainly I myself have not been exposed to anybody of Mr. Angier's ability to inspire and lead the way. But I've seen Gary's style change over the years as he has learned more and expect that it will drift in another direction as he learns more from elsewhere.

This is not koryu, and there is no reason to expect us to live in your boundaries. I am, as I said, just sorry that I think bridges are being pointlessly burnt, both with you and the larger community that has never met us and will side with you. It seems especially pointless given that you no longer represent or are part of Yanagi ryu.

And for what it's worth, I'm speaking for myself here, not in an "official" capacity. I feel poorly done by given how friendly you have been to us over the years.

There is nothing more to be found in this discussion but bad feelings.

Meynard Ancheta
5th March 2007, 17:53
I was there. What Rich said is absolutely accurate.

Ron Tisdale
5th March 2007, 19:28
I was there. What Rich said is absolutely accurate.

Of course it was. We all know Rich, and know he doesn't lie, or make things up.

Perfectly obvious.