Archive | October 2013

Summery of course…

This is a fairly detailed ‘summery’ of the Toby Threadgill/Robert Mustard course in Sept this year… the interesting thing about it, is that the author went to a lot of detail and must have paid a huge amount of attention. The end result is brilliant aid to memory for us who were there, to the techniques we did and concepts we’ve witnessed.

Thank you Matthew Bowen!


This course was held on the weekend of 14-15 September 2013 at the Jūdō Performance Institute in Dartford. Teaching was split equally between Robert Mustard (nanadan yōshinkan aikidō) and Toby Threadgill (headmaster of the Takamura-ha Shindō Yōshin-ryū school of jūjutsu and kenjutsu). As such, the techniques taught were yōshinkan and jūjutsu.

Members from Rising Sun Aikido attending the the course. From left to right: James, H, Toby Threadgill, Robert Mustard, Phil, Al, Matthew, Kerry, John.

Robert Mustard

Proper yōshinkan kamae
To step into kamae, begin from shizentai (natural posture) and take a large step forwards with one foot, sliding the rear foot forwards a small amount following it, in order to reach a position where 60% of the weight is on the front foot, and 40% on the back foot. The hand of the front foot should be held out directly in front of the sternum with a slight bend in the elbow. The second hand should be held in front of the hips. The fingers of each hand should be spread and the back leg held straight with the sole of the foot touching the floor.
Kamae exercise #1
Assume kamae and then have a partner lean directly on the front of your chest to ensure that you are stable. The partner then tests your posture from behind by leaning in the same way with their hand on the middle of your back.
Kamae exercise #2
From kamae, perform a tenkan into a deep kamae in which your weight is distributed 80% over the front foot and 20% on the rear foot. Then have a partner test your posture from the front and back as in the previous kamae exercise.
Kamae kihondosa
Step forwards into kamae, then tenkan over 180 degrees into a deep 80/20 stance as in the previous exercise. During the tenkan, the position of the front foot should not move. Perform a zengoundo movement on the balls of your feet so that your weight is distributed in the same way over your other foot. Take a step back with the front foot so that it becomes the back foot, ending in a normal kamae.
Katatedori hantai shihonage
Grab uke’s gripping hand using your free hand, step underneath their arm, and throw in shihōnage making sure to keep uke’s arm straight as opposed to being bent at the elbow.
Shomenuchi ikkajo
Tori attacks with shomenuchi, uke blocks the attack with their same arm (if tori attacks with the left, uke blocks with the left), then tori takes uke’s exposed elbow and performs ikkyo, irimi variation. Tori must strike with intent so that uke can learn to block correctly.
Katatedori nikajo
From a katatedori grip, step out to the side of the hand that has been grabbed and perform an atemi (backfist) to uke‘s face. Put your free hand on uke’s attacking hand and break the grip. Hold the wrist out in front of you so uke’s thumb is pointing downwards, and use the two smallest fingers on each hand to provide light pressure to execute the nikyo technique. When uke reaches the floor, put your hand on his elbow and sweep it out in the direction it’s pointing. After uke has lost his balance, tenkan down into the mat. Note: you cannot begin your tenkan until uke has been destabilised, as even if you succeed in taking him with you, he is in danger of colliding with your foot closest to him.
Nikajo exercise from kneeling
Sit in kiza with a partner and practise applying nikyo on your partner’s wrist with it held out in front of you. It must be applied using the hips. In order to do so, the hips must be pushed forwards down into the mat (I think by engaging the toe muscles and pushing the legs apart). The arms must have a relaxed yet firm structure so that when your hips move forwards, the nikyo is aplied.
Katatedori kokyūnage
Uke attacks with katatedori. Tori does a tenkan so that uke and tori are shoulder to shoulder, facing the same direction. Whilst performing this movement, tori’s gripped hand must go underneath uke’s hand in order to grab uke’s wrist by the end of the tenkan. Tori then pushes forwards and down, throwing uke.
Ryotedori tenchinage
Uke attacks with katatedori and tori steps to the side of the forwards foot and performs a quarter-tenkan. During this movement, tori sinks the hand of the side stepped towards and raises the other hand upwards by uke’s ear. Tori then steps forwards without letting the arms collapse and uses the hips to power uke diagonally downwards into the mat. Tori’s arms should end in a 45 degree declivity.

Toby Threadgill

Musubi exercise #1
Partner grabs with katatedori. Move the thumb of your grabbed hand upwards, rotating the wrist without moving it away from its position. This point of rotation is called jiku. Once you have created a connection with your partner you are said to have established musubi, and you can move your wrist forwards and down to unbalance them, achieving kuzushi.
Musubi exercise #2
Partner grabs with katatedori. Move the gripped hand slightly towards you and upwards with the palm face up, leading your partner’s bodyweight predominately onto their front foot. Move the hand slightly to the side and down in order to gain kuzushi.
Musubi exercise #3
A partner grabs you with ryotedori. Totally relax your arms. By doing so, you have denied your partner the ability to generate musubi (a connection to your centre), and you may move the rest of your body around freely. Walk around your gripped wrists a couple of times, then assume your original position and lower yourself to the floor before standing up again.
Musubi exercise #4
Your partner grabs you with ryotedori and moves your arms around in a random motion. Relax your arms totally, denying your partner the ability to generate musubi, maintaining your posture despite your flailing arms. When you perceive your partner to be susceptible to kuzushi, align your arms in such a way to provide structure. Your partner’s use of muscle against your structure will provide musubi; use your hips to unbalance him.
Principle of pulling with the front leg
During all footwork movements, a person can generate forwards momentum either by pushing with their back leg (as is natural) or by pulling with their front leg (as is unnatural). By doing the latter, one is able to avoid sacrificing one’s posture at any moment during the movement. In order to accomplish it, the front leg must not be placed farther forwards than the leg can reach if all of the bodyweight is supported by the back leg. When the front leg is placed down, it can be relaxed and the knee allowed to bend, transferring your bodyweight from your back foot to your front foot. When your weight is supported primarily by your front foot, engage the muscles of the front leg’s hamstring to pull your hips forwards until all of your bodyweight is now supported by your front foot. This process can be repeated to allow stepping without ever reaching a position where the bodyweight is not fully supported at all times (unlike in normal walking or running, where the front foot is briefly in a state of free-fall).
Pulling exercise #1
A partner stands in front of you, places one hand on each of your shoulders and leans into you. Placing your hands underneath their elbows, place one foot in front of you, rotate your pelvis forwards and pull yourself forwards without sacrificing your posture, forcing your partner back. You should be completely relaxed, relying on structural power rather than the contractions of your muscles.
Pulling exercise #2
A partner stands to your side and places one hand on the side of your upper arm, leaning into you. Move your foot closest to your partner towards them, rotate your hip sideways towards your partner and use your foot to pull yourself towards them as in the first exercise, forcing them back.
Achieving perfect shizentai
When your body is not structurally aligned – that is, when it’s not completely supported only by your musculature – you must engage muscles in your core and elsewhere in order to maintain your position. By perfecting your posture, you are able to relax fully, allowing you to use your muscles more efficiently. When standing, you should therefore maintain a straight back. An understanding of this principle allows a person to support not only their own bodyweight, but also additional external forces as required. Your bones are far stronger than your muscles, and the proper application of this principle uses them to great effect. This principle should be observed during all movements- even when kneeling or crouching.
Standing in shizentai, drop your bodyweight suddenly downwards by bending your knees and adopting kibadachi. When doing so, your back must stay perfectly straight and upright (as opposed to leaning forwards) with only your knees bent. You must avoid any extension of your legs as this will cause your centre to rise before falling – your centre must fall only. Performing this movement with musubi is very powerful and allows for very sudden throws that utilise your whole bodyweight.
Literally, “being a rabbit.” This happens if your feet lift off the ground when performing the otoshi movement, creating a hopping effect like a rabbit. If you do this, you are not practising Shindō Yōshin-ryū and get to wear the bunny ears.
Your partner grips with katatedori. Place your free hand on his gripping hand to rotate it to break his grip, turning it so that his thumb is pointing down. Move the hand to in front of your sternum and use your now free hand to reinforce your grip, your elbow rested on top of your partner’s arm. Your partner’s arm should be straight. Pull your leg closest to your partner very slightly forwards, moving your whole body slightly closer to your partner. After this movement, your partner’s arm should be engaged with the shoulder and a connection made to his torso. Drop slowly, keeping your back straight as in the otoshi exercise and your partner should feel compelled to drop with you. When your partner has been taken down low, let go with your reinforcing hand, stand up straight and place your free hand on your partner’s elbow.
Musubi exercise #5
Your partner holds out his arm straight forwards with slight rigidity. Stand to the side of him and lay your hands on his arm, totally relaxing your arms. Pull yourself closer to him and try to feel for musubi by using your body to move his arm slightly towards him, engaging his shoulder. Once you have connected with him, you can drop down slowly to achieve kuzushi.
Becoming impossibly well-balanced
Stand in shizentai with your palms in front of your chest facing outwards. A partner will put his palms against yours and lean into you. By using your partner’s incoming force and moving your body parts around, you are able to attempt to calibrate your posture so that the incoming force does not unbalance you. The head must be placed directly above the hips and the hips directly above the feet. The knees must be bent slightly, the back held straight, and the pelvis rotated forwards or backwards. When correctly calibrated, you should be able to redirect incoming pressure effectively (half of it going upwards, half of it being channelled into the ground). You should not lean forwards – if your partner suddenly stops applying pressure, your balance should be unaffected. Your partner’s feeling should be that of pushing into a sponge – that the force is simply accepted and immediately dissipated. When you are correctly calibrated, you should feel an increase of pressure on your feet as more of it is being supported by them.
Running in the Kurosawa films
According to Mr. Threadgill, Akira Kurosawa employed an advisor familiar in koryū who advised him that the samurai used the method of pulling with the front foot whilst running, which is why the samurai in Kurosawa’s films run peculiarly, taking only small strides.
Principle of exploiting tension
When uke becomes tense and you are attempting to apply a large kotegaeshi, stop. Your technique should be calibrated to the behaviour of uke; if uke is tense and his wrist won’t budge, don’t try to move it away. Instead, do a small technique; concern yourself only with taking uke’s balance and achieving the throw. Don’t worry about whether it will be a big throw or a small throw – these details don’t matter.
Mouth technique, i.e., yapping. May also have a secondary meaning that I won’t go into.
A paired kata from Takamura ha Shindō Yōshin-ryū. Uchidachi (uke) attacks with katatedori. Shidachi (tori) steps to shikaku (the blind-side) and places his free wrist underneath uchidachi’s wrist. Using an upwards motion, the grip is broken. The gripped hand falls on top of the hand uchidachi was using to grab, sinking it down and unbalancing uchidachi, preparing for a kotegaeshi throw. Stepping back with the foot of the hand that was grabbed, step straight into a kneeling position, taking uchidachi’s arm with you, throwing him in a tegaeshi (hand reversal) throw. Do not turn until after uchidachi has landed. Maintaining your grip on uchidachi’s hand, turn your whole body towards uchidachi (turning on the side that uchidachi was thrown). At the end of your turn, the knee that is up should be against uchidachi’s arm. Push uchidachi’s arm away from you and put the leg of your knee that’s up 45 degrees out to the side, with the knee bent at an obtuse angle, and pat the inside of your knee with the hand of that side. This position is known as ichimonji (“ichi character” – character for ichi is ‘一’) and its purpose is to free your hakama from your feet to avoid tripping when standing up. Now move your outwards leg inwards again so that you are crouching on the balls of your feet (back still upright). Slowly rise, maintainingzanshin on uchidachi.
Taiotoshi translates as ‘body drop’. Uchidachi grabs your lapel. Grab uchidachi’s lapel on the opposite side and the sleeve of his attacking arm at the elbow. Step in so that your back foot becomes your front foot, and that the toes are placed by the side of uchidachi’s toes. Bring your feet together whilst turning away from uke, using your grip on him and your turning motion to break his balance. The direction of the turn is to the same side as the foot that you had forwards at the beginning. Take the foot that you originally stepped in with and place it on the outside of uchidachi’s front leg, slightly behind his foot; make sure that you have a bend in your leg at the knee joint. To execute the throw, snap your hips so that they are now facing fully in the opposite direction that they were at the beginning and straighten the leg you placed on the outside. As you twist, keep your hands in front of them and use them to move uchidachi’s torso forwards. This movement throws uchidachi as your leg prevents uchidachi from stepping to recover his posture. When throwing, take care that you do not move your own torso forwards; maintain an upright and stable posture at all times. See this video on taiotoshi.
The jūdō name for what aikidōka recognise as a koshinage (hip throw). Ōgoshi translates as ‘great hip’ (‘ō’ meaning ‘great’ and ‘goshi’ an altered pronunciation of ‘koshi’ meaning ‘hip’). Uchidachi grabs your lapel. Respond by stepping in towards uchidachi, closing the distance and using the arm of the side that has been grabbed to wrap around uchidachi’s lower back, grabbing his gi jacket. Place your feet side-by-side, close together and bend forwards significantly so that your back is horizontal. Sink down so that your hips are lower than uchidachi’s hips, pull uchidachi forwards and load the whole of his weight onto your hips, carried directly above your feet. Tilt your hips and throw uchidachi off the other side of them. When performing the technique, you should lead uchidachi onto your hips such that his centre of balance is directly on top of the small of your back – this will ensure that your throw is stable. Uchidachi’s centre should be on top of your centre which should be directly above your own feet. This video explains the ōgoshi throw as it is performed in jūdō.
Throw using the principle of the square
In aikidō, most movements use principles of circular motion. This is not the only possibility however, and the shape of the square can also be used to unbalance a person. Uchidachi grabs shidachi on the shoulder. Use the hand of the arm that’s being grabbed to grab uchidachi’s sleeve below his elbow. Step back with your whole body so that uchdtachi is moved directly forwards, and when he is off-posture, drop directly down onto the knee of the arm that’s been grabbed. Uchidachi will be thrown suddenly forwards, his arm having moved first straight forwards and then straight downwards – a 90 degree angle reminiscent of the corner of a square. As in tegaeshi, do not turn to face uchidachi until he has been thrown, then turn and brace his arm against your knee. Push his arm away, assume ichimonji to clear your hakama, bring your leg in again and stand up slowly, maintaining zanshin.
Musubi exercise #6
Uke grabs with katatedori. Use your free hand to place your thumb on the back of his hand and rotate his hand to break the grip. Using both of your hands, take his hand over towards his shoulder, with uke’s palm being above his elbow. Engage the shoulder in order to move it ever so slightly away from being structurally supported by uke’s body, then allow your arms and body to become heavy, and sink uke’s hand downwards slightly to the outside of his elbow, taking with it his shoulder and therefore his posture.


link found here: