View Full Version : Q&A: Yoshida-ha bujutsu

Charlie Kondek
18th May 2004, 18:38
Thanks to Richard Elias for this Q&A.

Richard, what curriculum constitutes Yoshida-ha bujutsu? When was it founded, and can you tell us some of the history?

Richard Elias
18th May 2004, 23:05
Yoshida-Ha Bujutsu is the public name we’ve given to our study of Shidare Yanagi ryu as taught to us by Don Angier. Angier sensei requested that we refrain from using the name “Yanagi ryu? so that his is the only official Yanagi ryu dojo. We have honored his request though we teach the same curriculum in the same manner as it was taught to us, there is essentially no difference.

We chose the name Yoshida-Ha to honor the family from which the art comes, the Yoshida family of Kyushu, who later relocated to Hokkaido. Angier sensei inherited the art from Yoshida Kenji, the son of Yoshida Kotaro. Yoshida Kotaro was a renowned martial artist during his time. He had been a student of Takeda Sokaku, earning kyoju dairi, and was the man to introduce Ueshiba Morihei to Takeda in 1915. He taught at the Butokukai in Tokyo, where he had taught Mas Oyama and Richard Kim, and worked for the Asahi newspaper. He was also an early teacher of Kondo Katsuyuki and his first teacher Hosono Tsunejiro.

Unfortunately, due to Yoshida Kotaro’s involvement with certain right-wing organizations prior to and during the WW2 we have not been able to trace the family beyond him. Although Yoshida Kotaro was known as a teacher of Daito ryu it is not known that he ever taught the family art publicly, or the other arts he had learned.

The curriculum is very comprehensive and includes training in the following arts:

Aikijujutsu - Empty-hand art
Kenjutsu - Sword art
Tantojutsu - Knife art
Naginatajutsu - Glaive art
Sojutsu - Spear art
Tessenjutsu - Iron Fan art
Jojutsu - Staff art
Juttejutsu - Arresting-truncheon art
Hojojutsu - Rope binding art

All of these are not just additions to the empty hand, but complete arts in their own rights, with etiquette, basics, and kata particular to the weapon. Yet, at the same time, they are part of a cohesive whole system, complimenting each other and working off of a single “operating system?. The principles taught in the various kata and techniques cross over into the various aspects of the art and the applications overlap. That is, many of the same techniques that are applied in weapons have applications with the other weapons, offensive and defensive, and empty hand applications as well.

One unusual aspect of the art is the inclusion of long kata, though this is not totally unheard of (TSKSR has them) it is unusual for Japanese arts. We have two long forms each for sword, jo, and empty hand, and three for naginata.

The sword curriculum in particular is very comprehensive. It includes Iai from standing and walking, from various angles and situations, two man sets, multiple opponent techniques, ukemi while holding the katana and while in the obi, the two long kata previously mentioned, and defense against the various other weapons in the system... and an equally expansive kodachi curriculum.

There is Iai from seiza but it does not begin with the sword in the belt. They begin by taking up the sword from sitting at your side and rolling away prior to drawing and cutting back in the direction of the attack.

The chiburi and noto are one of the the most unusual I have seen. After chiburi the sword is wiped with paper taken from the kimono, and during the noto the sword blade is never touched by the hand... Very difficult.

Iaito are never used. Students begin with bokken and then will start using shinken within their first month of sword training. We believe that gaining familiarity with the live weapon early on is beneficial and teaches the student respect for the weapon as they learn to overcome their fear of it.
Hope that was ok

18th May 2004, 23:56
If you use Shinken after a month you must have to vet your prospective students well?

Richard Elias
19th May 2004, 00:05
I'm not sure what you mean by "vet".

Richard Elias
19th May 2004, 00:28
I'm not sure what you mean by "vet".

Charlie Kondek
19th May 2004, 12:48
Great post. The curriculum seems so large, and a lot to keep track of. Does that mean study of the ryu takes a long, long time? How many kata are in each of the ryu's other arts (besides the long kata you described above)?

19th May 2004, 15:15
vet: examine carefully

How similar/distinct are your tessen waza vs. your tanto waza? (Yes I know one has an edge ;) , some schools I have seen use the weapons nearly interchangeably).

Roger Conant
19th May 2004, 16:04
The curriculum of Yoshida-ha ryu is very large. I am interested in the history of this ryu. As I understand it, there is no independent substantiation of Don Angiers Yanagi ryu, aside from the affirmations of some Daito ryu practitioners in Japan who acknowledge that it looks like what they do. Whether this is correct or not, I am more interested in the weapons part of the curriculum. What do you know of the history of these and their kata?

Im not at all trying to be confrontational or accusing, but surely there must be some record of a ryu of this size in historical accounts? Is there some swordsman from Yanagi nee Yoshida-ha ryu who fought a duel that was recorded in some history? Is there a person in your ryus ancestry who was hired by some daimyo to teach naginata?

As you know, these kinds of secondary references are fairly common among other ryu. Is yours an exception?


19th May 2004, 19:07
Originally posted by chrismoses
vet: examine carefully And here I thought it might be making sure they have all their shots and a flea dip. :D


What do you mean by a ryu of this size? Kondo Katsuyuki of the Daito ryu was a student of Yoshida Kotaro and has said that he only taught Daito ryu (but it was known he knew other stuff). Yoshida Kenji, his son, taught something that was not Daito ryu to Don Angier that he said was his family's art. So far no one has been able to further research Kotaro or locate family, ancestors, or descendants apart from Kenji. There is no guarantee that any independent historical record would mention the art even if you could track down ancestors or that it would even have a name. Yoshida is a very common name. How do you know if a Yoshida mentioned in a document is a part of this family? Heck, I don't think we even know Kotaro's wife's name he must have had one if he had a son, right?

Also, does a family style need a bunch of documents? And Kenji left Japan to escape persecution by his father's political allies and had only a few photographs to pass on.

Richard Elias
19th May 2004, 19:40

…and Chris,

There is a lot to the art, but the time needed to learn it is really dependant on your dedication, like any other art. What Chris mentioned about many of the techniques being interchangeable applies to our system as well.

For instance, tanto, jutte and tessen, have are all used similarly, and have many correlations to the empty hand portion of the art. For these there are no real set kata. They are taught at a more advanced stage in the training, after one has become competent with the empty hand curriculum.

With tanto for example… one learns various draws from standing and from seiza, cuts, blocks, deflections, basic handling and position changes, etc. Once these are learned then you would learn how to enter in on an attack based on the same ones that were learned in empty hand. At first he would show techniques peculiar to that particular weapons attributes. (ie. The jutte can catch a blade, tanto cuts, tessen is a striking weapon) Then sensei would demonstrate an entry and application, often showing how it correlates to an empty hand technique, and possibly one of the other weapons depending on which you’ve gotten to learn thus far. He may go through a several of these all based off of the same entry. Most of the techniques don’t have names or numbers, and no set of kata were standardized. Sensei would show something and demonstrate several variations based the first one and they were all interchangeable. The training is more about the application of the tool you are using than the memorization of a set of kata. It’s actually more like a series of drills with applied techniques. Eventually the student is expected to devise spontaneous techniques based on what he has already learned.

Now sword is a bit different, it is more standardized with set techniques, drills, and kata. Staring with seven menuchi Iai techqniues from for directions, some of which are dependent on which foot you happen to have your weight on when you are attacked. There are several do Iai techniques standing and kneeling or going to the knees as one draws. And then ten kumitachi and numerous two-man applied techniques (I’ve never actually counted them all, and I don’t have the lists in with me.) The long kata alone can translate in to various individual techniques with numerous variations. Through the long kata you learn techniques for dealing with an ambush, multiple swordsmen, two spearmen, kusarigama wielding opponent, being grabbed from behind, strikes to the head, body, legs, and attacked while on your knees.

There is a similar set up for naginata, and a bit less for jo. Though with jo there is more various applied techniques. For instance, sensei taught is perhaps 10-12 various techniques for disarming a jo wielding attacker and we extrapolated about 80 or so variations based on those 12 and applying what we had learned from empty hand and the other weapons. Then in many of these were learned way of being applied to jo vs jo, and jo vs sword, etc.etc.

The way the art is taught there really is no limit to what can be done. How long it takes to learn it is totally dependant on the student.


As I stated earlier, unfortunately we cannot trace the lineage of the art with any certainty beyond Yoshida Kotaro. We have tried many avenues to get more info. But the groups he was involved in were very influential, and to this day people do not wish to speak about it. It has even been suggested that we should not be asking about him. (Read into that what you will, I won’t elaborate on it further). Yoshida is such a commonly used name in Japan it’s virtually impossible to tell what this particular branch of the Yoshida was involved with historically without knowing more about the family.

Other than that what proof we have is mostly the knowledge that is there and the pictures in the possession of Angier sensei. I have copies of many of these pictures. My particular favorite is one of young Kenji (Angier sensei’s teacher) when he was between 16-18 years old, seated in seiza, in formal montsuki. Behind him is a suit of armor with the family crest on the kabuto and a scroll on the wall reading ?Yanagi ryu Aiki Bugei?. The photo was taken in the mid 20’s.

I honestly wish we had more to go on. I am satisfied by the content of the art that it is real and fairly old. If it’s not then Don Angier is a certifiable genius, and at one point knew more about this stuff than anyone in this country, before most of today’s authorities were ever born, and before he ever went to Japan. Angier sensei has been teaching the same art and claimed the same history since he learned the art in the 1950’s. He has not changed his story to fit the times or what’s popular, and hasn’t taken advantage of what he learned to make money off of the unsuspecting.

I personally have found no reason to doubt him. Kondo Katsuyuki studied with Angier sensei’s teacher’s father, Yoshida Kotaro, and found that Angier sensei knew techniques that were those of his teacher, but are not included in Daito ryu. It’s not that our techniques “looked like what they do? but that they were recognized as his personal techniques that were not a part of what they do.

Among others that accept Angier sensei and his art are:

The late Takamura Yukiyoshi, who’s grandfather was a friend and traveling partner of Yoshida Kotaro. There are even techniques in their system attributed to Yoshida.

Okomoto Seigo, of Daito ryu Roppokai, his teacher (Horikawa Kodo) was a friend and contemporary of Yoshida Kotaro.

Kaminoda Tsunemori, Shindo Muso ryu menkyo kaiden

Nawa Yumio, Masaki ryu Soke and renowned martial arts historian who commented that the techniques of our system are consistent with those of the Yoshida family.

These guys are no slouches in their arts or their knowledge of Japanese martial history. I may be being naive, but if they all give credence to his history that’s good enough for me.

Charlie Kondek
20th May 2004, 13:29
Richard, this sounds like a fascinating and comprehensive art. I remember being intrigued when I read the article at EJMAS on Mr. Angier, and your descriptions of it have only added to it. May I ask, how long have you studied? How "far" have you gone in terms of rank (is there a menkyo-style advancement system?)? In that time, what kinds of changes have you seen in yourself and your ability?

Richard Elias
20th May 2004, 22:03
I was a direct student of Don Angier for eight years. I was sort of a groupie for about six years before that, learning what I could from video, seminars and visits to his dojo. Of those six, four were waiting to be accepted as a student. Once allowed in my friend John and I trained pretty much fanatically, hardly missing any of the 5 weekly classes and training on our own time as well. We even converted the front room of our apartment into a dojo.

Being originally a family martial art not taught to outsiders, there was no ranking or licensing system. Angier sensei instituted a ranking system to appeal to public demand but later abandoned it because he didn’t like the effect it was having on students. Some became more concerned out rank and how they were better than others, rather than just focusing on the training and getting better. At this point there is no ranking system at all, only continued training. He had mentioned adopting licensing and issuing Menkyo, but has not done so thus far. So I have been given no rank as there is none to give. But by my teacher’s own admission he had little more to teach us, “there comes a time when the bird must leave the nest?, as he put it. So we opened our own dojo and share what we have learned, and are learning in the process.

For myself personally… Under Angier sensei’s tutelage I have reached levels I thought would seriously take me decades to achieve, if I could at all. I am grateful for having had the opportunity to learn this art, and will continue to practice it for the rest of my life.

Richard Elias
21st May 2004, 05:09
Just an aside to Rogers question

I was just informed that while visiting Nawa Yumio on his most recent trip to Japan, Angier sensei was told by Nawa sensei that he had been able to trace Yanagi ryu of the Yoshida family back to the 1600s.

21st May 2004, 06:14
Cool, I hope we can hear more about this new information. Now what will they say?

Charlie Kondek
21st May 2004, 13:17
Wow, Richard. Just wow. It sounds like you had an unusually clear vision of what you wanted to study. Why is that?

And, I don't know if you can answer this, but it's something I'd like to ask as many koryu trainees as I can: do you consider the differences between your koryu training and gendai training significant (I don't know if you have any gendai training, BTW)? I guess by "significant" I mean... well, I don't know what I mean!

Roger Conant
21st May 2004, 19:13
Wait a minute, Richard.
This is a very informative format and no responsible member here wants it to turn into some kind of sniping or gotcha. But
You were informed that Angier was informed by Nawa that Nawa traced the lineage back to 1600s? Thats a lot of passive voice in one sentence. Previously you noted that Yoshida is a very common family name and that it would be difficult to ascertain just which Yoshida it was based on historical documents. Now we are told that just that has been done, and been done all the way back to the 17th century.
It seems to me that to be intellectually honest, vague, passively-voiced claims of ancestry do not have a place in this kind of discussion. What is the nature of this research? If Nawa or Angier wish this to be kept private, fine. But inferences to it should not then be used to try to substantiate a history.

On a related matter: not very many ryu were sui generis. They didnt just spring up out of nowhere, as you must know. They had antecedents. If you look at Owari Kan ryu sojutsu, for instance, you can see elements of Saburi ryu and Shinkage ryu. Do you know anything of the genealogy of your ryu? Does it have elements or a feel that is like another ryu? Any close relatives?

21st May 2004, 21:12


Don't like passive voice?

Nawa sensei told Don Angier that he traced the Yoshida family and Yanagi ryu back as far as the 1600s during Angier's recent visit to Japan.

So now that we are comfortably in active voice the question is: Are you calling Nawa sensei a liar?

Until we hear more I think Rich is being responsible. Leaving it in the passive voice communicated the tentative nature of the information.

On the other hand I now know the answer to my question, "Now what will they say?"

21st May 2004, 21:22
I find nothing dishonest with Rich stating effectively, "This is what we know, this is what we don't. We've heard this but haven't been able to verify it..."

Like Rich said, if Don made the whole thing up, he's the greatest martial genious in history. There just isn't a reason why he would do that? It's not like he's getting rich off of his huge international organization...

Take the witch-hunt elsewhere. If you don't buy it, fine don't buy it.

Have you trained with Don or Rich/Johnny/Joe and suspect the art stems from something you are familiar with or are you just trolling?

Richard Elias
21st May 2004, 22:27

I'm going to have to mirror Doug's and Chris' comments.. I've presented what I know and am answering questions with the information available to me. I was asked to do a Q&A about what we do, not stand trial to an inquisition by a single doubter who has done the same to me in past threads. I understand you have reservations about the legitimacy of the lineage of our art, you have voiced them on more than one occasion, but I do not. I have no great need to prove anything to anyone, I am just sharing what I know. I stated before that I wish I had more to go on, but I don't. You can either accept what I have shared here or not, that's up to you, I've told you what I know.

FYI, the person who informed me about the conversation between Angier sensei and Nawa sensei was Toby Threadgill. He had spoken to Angier sensei directly when I had not. If you doubt him, Angier sensei, or Nawa sensei, that's on you. I presented what I know and answered your question with what available information I had.

Yes I did say that Yoshida was a common name and would be difficult to trace... but I was also not aware that someone such as Nawa sensei was actually trying to do so. I just found this out last night right before I posted it. The information from Nawa sensei is admittedly not all conclusive as of yet, and I do not know what documention or resources he used to acquire this.

I've answered and given all I know about the lineage up to this point, the research continues and apparently by those with greater knowledge and resources than I. I will not answer any more question on this issue. If you have question about the art itself I will be glad to answer those.

Incidently, I have seen similarities to some different arts. Onno-ha itto ryu for one, Shindo Yoshin and Yoshin ryu. And I once was invited to view a training session in Shinkage ryu (Owari-kan line) and some of the short sword technqiues were virtually identical. Oddly enough, Nawa sensei had said that when he traced Yanagi ryu back to the 1600's, the Yoshida at that time had been involved with the Yagyu, but I do not know the full nature of that involvement.


Actually, it was more that I had a feeling of what I didn't want than what I really wanted. I began my martial arts path when I was around 12 years old and sampled various arts in my search for the one that was for me. I had wanted to study a complete art, but I couldn't nfind any. I did a stint in Aikido for about five years with Pat Hendricks sensei. It was while uchi deshi in her dojo that I first attended a seminar by Angier sensei and knew that that was what I was looking for. I just knew. But it was some time before I would be able to do something about it.

At this point I an not going to say whether the art is "verifiably" koryu or not, though it shares more with koryu. I do find the differences significant, not only in content, but intent and... feel. It's just a different animal.

Roger Conant
22nd May 2004, 01:17
If I had written that someone had just told me that hed talked with someone whod consulted with someone else who had insisted Mr. Angiers system was a fraud, would you confront me with my being vague? I think so. And had a person written here making such meandering charges, others, along with me, would have written to ask them to be more direct. It would not be fair to cast aspersions with such indirect accusations so it should also be out of bounds to make similar kinds of defenses. That was my point.

Mr. Angiers system presents a unique perspective for many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of objective mention of the ryu in any literature on the subject. So questions addressing apparent inconsistencies are not unreasonable are they? Nor should questions that might suggest other avenues for finding out more about the past of this school be considered evidence of doubting or trolling or of calling anyone a liar.

Richard Elias
22nd May 2004, 03:16

If I had written that someone had just told me that hed talked with someone whod consulted with someone else who had insisted Mr. Angiers system was a fraud, would you confront me with my being vague? I think so.

Actually no I probably would not care. Just as I do not care that you have doubts about the art. I might say, hes entitled to believe what he wants. The only reason I have responded to this at all is because I agreed to answer questions about the art on this thread. And, the only reason I am put in a position of defending is because you are questioning the information I provided in answering your questions. That you dont like my wording or the manner in which the information got to me from its source does not make it any less valid. I could have easily just stated that a Japanese martial arts historian had traced the art back to the 1600s and left it at that. But I was relating it as I received it. It doesnt concern me if some people think its a fraud, some of those whose opinions are greatly respected do not, and have even helped in trying to validate the art historically.

Mr. Angiers system presents a unique perspective for many reasons, not the least of which is the lack of objective mention of the ryu in any literature on the subject. So questions addressing apparent inconsistencies are not unreasonable are they?

Well apparently after some research Nawa sensei has found mention of the art. That you or I do not have access to such literature is not surprising in the least. There is much more about these arts that is not readily available than what is. Fortunately an experienced Japanese martial arts historian such as Nawa sensei does have access and has even endeavored to research it a bit.

I am not sure what inconsistencies you were referring to, Ive said the same things all along and so has Angier sensei. Granted, we know more now than we did five years ago, and more than five years before that. The research continues and perhaps one day we will have the whole picture. But until then I have presented what we have, if that is not sufficient for you then I apologize but until we have more thats all there is.

Our history/lineage is far less controversial and inconsistent than many out there. We have far more to support our art than there is to condemn it. That there is not as much information as we would like is considerably different than making contradictory statements, or statements that are in exact opposition to known facts.

Perhaps I should be asking if there is any evidence that the claims, lineage, history, family photos, and content of the art are fabrications. I would be interested to know if there is something that actually contradicts what we have, other than just a lack of information in known sources. Having no information is not the same as having information that proves one wrong.

The purpose of this thread was to answer questions about the art, not to defend its legitimacy. If it had been I most likely would not have agreed to do it, as I have no interest in defending the art to those who doubt it, its their loss as far as I am concerned. There is a wealth of knowledge here that is rare in this country.

This is the very last time I will address this issue.
I will simply ignore further posts on this subject, I have presented all the information that I have.

Is there anyone else whos actually interested in the art itself?

David Maynard
23rd May 2004, 06:18

I find it very interesting that Nawa Sensei is in correspondence with Yanagi ryus Angier Sensei. I met Nawa Sensei many years ago in Japan and had the pleasure of discussing the Bansen Shukai with him. Hes an interesting old buzzard and one bloody good researcher in my opinion. Hes certainly not afraid to dispell a myth here and there. As I remember it, he rather effectively dispelled much of the romanticised ninja lore with his research.

Crikey, he must be over 85 years old these days. If Nawa Sensei has really shown interest in Yanagi ryu theres a darn good reason for it. Something of value has piqued his interest. If hes recently had direct contact with Angier Sensei in Japan as has been reported, this is even more illuminating. In my opinion hes not one to waste his time or passion chasing phantoms. If Nawa Yumio comes to some deeper conclusions concerning the history of Yanagi ryu you can rest assured they are pretty tightly researched.

Mr Conant, you posted this:

As I understand it, there is no independent substantiation of Don Angiers Yanagi ryu, aside from the affirmations of some Daito ryu practitioners in Japan who acknowledge that it looks like what they do.

You understand wrong. Im curious. Have you been living under a stone or do you hold some strange bias that colors your judgement on the topic of Yanagi ryu? The reason I ask is because your above statement along with several previous ones are totally inaccurate given the info in the public domain and judging from my conversations with many individuals intimately familiar with this controversy. My sensei, Takamura Yukiyoshi was quite knowlegable concerning Yoshida Kotaro by way of his grandfather Ohbata Shigeta. As has been stated many times, Takamura Sensei was completely convinced of Angier Senseis links to Yoshida Kotaro. His convictions required evidence much more substantive than the flimsy and oddly veiled dismissal you have tried to promote above. Apparantly Nawa , like Takamura is so convinced of Angiers legitimacy that he has desired direct correspondence with Angier Sensei. In Takamura Senseis case his purpose for such correspondence was to gain insights into the spectifics of Yanagi ryu and evaluate its further development outside Japan. This personal correspondence continued frequently until Takamura Senseis death in March of 2000. In personal conversation with me, Takamura Sensei mentioned that in his grandfathers personal notes there is mention of several mokuroku that were in the possession of Yoshida Kotaro, specifically ones including the study of tessen and jutte. In these same notes Ohbata Sensei always referred to the art taught by Yoshida Kotaro as Yoshida family budo. In a book published by historian Stan Pranin, Kondo Katsuyuki also mentions one of these mokuroku. ( Conversations with Daito ryu Masters by Stan Pranin, page 163. ) Curiously Takamura Sensei mentioned that he never heard the name Yanagi ryu mentioned in association with Yoshida Kotaro. The reason for this is rather odd but moot since an old photograph of a young Yoshida Kenji does exist with a makimono in the background clearly spelling out Yanagi ryu Aiki Bugei It is my understanding that my TSYR compatriot, Sensei Toby Threadgill has had this original photo roughly dated by an expert to between 1910 & 1940. In my mind this is very convincing hard evidence that an art by the name of Yanagi ryu was in existence and being taught within the Yoshida family around 1920. As noted above, further evidence of this conclusion has been confirmed by Katsuyuki Kondo and Shigeta Ohbata.

So, the question of Yanagi ryus existence prior to Don Angier is not really at issue here. What is at issue here is what were the origins of Yanagi ryu and how extensive was the original curriculum. What was the curriculum prior to Yoshida Kotaro. How much of the curriculum has survived. How much has the original curriculum evolved or changed while under the care of Sensei Angier?

These are the legitament questions that may never be answered without the assistence of an authority like Nawa Yumio.

The best to you all,

Dave Maynard / TSYR

Charlie Kondek
24th May 2004, 13:28
Two points/comments.

1) I hope this thread does not antagonize Richard. Because it was created to promote friendly (even if it takes the form of debate) dialogue here at e-budo's sword arts forum, not to provoke the Q&A source. Surely, such correspondence can be carried out privately, if one wishes to engage in this kind of one-on-one discussion? I feel I must stress this point, because if Richard feels attacked in this Q&A, he could stop participating (which we would respect) and it could discourage other persons from participating in like Q&A's, and the entire community of the sword arts forum will suffer for it. I'm not a mod, I just entreat you to keep it friendly.

2) Richard, if you're not to distracted, of if you can put it into words, I'd love to hear more speculation on what's different about the animal, the intent, the feel. It's just something that I think about since here in cyber-space so many gendai and koryu people have come together and not really understood the point of view of the other. I ask without agenda and give full disclosure that I favor a combative-sports-type environment (my background is in kendo, but also kickboxing and judo, mixed-martial-arts type stuff, and that fumbling around I call iai). I'd just love to hear more about the other sphere. IF, and only if, you feel you can comment. I admire that you locked onto the ryu and patiently went after it.



Charlie Kondek
24th May 2004, 13:37
P.S. I'd like to hera more about the unarmed. What are the strikes and takedowns like?

Richard Elias
24th May 2004, 19:43

I don’t really have any experience in competition oriented martial arts. I seem to lack the competitive gene and was never really interested in pursuing them. Though I do appreciate the advantages of such training, it’s just not for me. I am more of a traditionalist, which may be a fault but oh well. But as such I can’t really comment with any authority on how it differs.

What I do now is quite far removed from my study of Aikido, even though some of the techniques might be similar. Intent wise, well… cleaving your enemy in two or slipping a knife between his ribs kinda goes against many of Aikido’s ideals. And that is reflected in the techniques, the timing and the distancing. The general feel is also different. Shorter, softer, more direct movements and blends are preferred over large circular movements, and hard throws. We are always trying to move in and get close enough to use a weapon, even if we are not going to. I supposed that’s one of the reasons for the lack of a competitive aspect to the art. To put it in a ring or to put limitations on it in the way of rules would be taking it out of the context for which it was intended.

The striking aspect of the art is more akin to kung fu type striking methods than karate. There are various different types of strikes with different parts of the body, pressure points are used also but usually in conjunction with something else. We don’t like to rely only on pain. The strikes are not done only upon entry or as a finish, but are also sometimes applied through the course of a technique. Striking itself may be the technique, as we have strikes that also serve as throws, or drops. Kicking is also employed but generally only low kicks are used.

Take downs usually are more like just dropping the person where they stand and maintaining a hold of a limb to pin them or tie them up. We don’t really drag or pull them down. Throws and take downs are usually applied with vertical downward pressure. We usually try to keep them close, again with the intent of deploying a weapon, usually a sword if we’re putting them on the ground.

6th July 2004, 17:24

Jason W
5th August 2004, 14:56

I recall on another thread here on e-budo someone mentioning the time they had a chance to handle a shuriken in the possession of Angier Sensei.

I notice in the list of weapons you presented at the beginning of the thread that shuriken jutsu was not present.

Does Yoshida-ha bujutsu have a shurikenjutsu component, or did you not include it on the list for a reason?


Richard Elias
5th August 2004, 15:52
Shuriken is not a formal part of the curriculum, though we do practice with them. It is not something that was passed on to Angier sensei from Yoshida Kenji so there are no set kata, I think it's something he picked up along the way. We do have a shuriken target set up in the dojo and have incorporated it into our training. I did not include it on the list because it is not a complete art within the system like the other arts. We've also done training in manrikigusari, cane, short stick, and even kusarigama, but they are all more like collections of techniques rather than systemized arts.

Jason W
6th August 2004, 02:35
Thanks for that Rich.

Its very refreshing to finally read an open discussion on your art.

Charlie Kondek
6th August 2004, 13:52
I know it's not a sword but, those shuriken - how are they thrown (underhand or overhand)? What kind of damage do they do when striking flesh?

I myself taught myself to throw one so that it would stick into the garage when I was a kid, although I'm sure it was just me figuring out how do to it, same with a pocket knife or hatchet.

Richard Elias
6th August 2004, 18:58
Generally they are thrown overhand, but underhand and even sideways throws are also done. Also throwing from seiza, laying down, and while holding a sword are also practiced.

I've never actualy been hit, or hit a person with one, so I don't have personal experience on what damage they can cause. I would speculate it would depend on the location it hit. It would do more damage to the eye than say the thigh muscle. Either way they are considered more of a distraction or nuesance weapon, rather than counting on one to do serious damage or completely disable the opponent. Unlike in the movies, even poisoned ones wouldn't disable the attacker right away. Hit them with the shuriken and then with the sword, or run!