Please tell me about Yoshinkan Aikido

Flying Crane

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I don’t know much about the different varieties of aikido. If anyone has experience with this branch, I would appreciate your thoughts and insights. Thanks!
 

MetalBoar

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I don’t know much about the different varieties of aikido. If anyone has experience with this branch, I would appreciate your thoughts and insights. Thanks!
I'm not an Aikido expert, but I've got a few years off and on in a number of schools. My Aikido experience is primarily with Iwama style, but I did a little Yoshinkan many years ago. It was right after the Hapkido school I'd been with for 5 years closed and I had moved cross country, which is kind of relevant for context.

In my limited experience, Yoshinkan uses the same techniques and joint locks as other forms of Aikido, but they tend to be applied in a more direct fashion. Smaller circles, a lot more emphasis on quick and forceful application and less blending with your opponent. Still a big focus on kuzushi, it just seemed a lot less flowery about it. People often say it's more like traditional Aikijutsu and that's probably true.

I had very mixed feelings about it at the time. The Hapkido school I'd just left taught pretty much the same locks and techniques that you get in Aikido, but it was to Yoshinkan what Yoshinkan is to Iwama Aikido, much more direct, quick and forceful still. My assessment at the time was that Yoshinkan was an uncomfortable middle ground for me. After training in Hapkido, in a school were we spent a lot of time doing stand up grappling and applying joint locks against significant to full resistance, I'd found that there were times when the softer, more flowing Aikido approach had it's place and being able to alternate between soft and flowing, and hard and forceful, was a powerful combination. The Yoshinkan I trained kind of sat in the middle and, at least in my very limited experience, was not nearly as effective as the even more direct Hapkido I'd studied, nor did it seem to have the effortless power that more flowing Aikido offered on the occasions when that could be applied.

At the time I decided it wasn't for me and probably didn't give the school as much consideration as it deserved. I really wanted to be doing the Hapkido that didn't exist anymore and that colored my perceptions, perhaps unfairly. It also isn't fair to assess an entire style by comparing one, pretty good Aikido instructor, to my Hapkido instructor, who had 15-20 years more experience, and is to this day, 20+ years later, still one of the most amazing martial artists I've ever seen.

In retrospect, I think Yoshinkan is probably a lot easier starting place than softer forms of Aikido for a lot of people, and that a thoughtful student could easily make it more or less direct once they had integrated the core principles into their understanding. If I were looking to get back into Aikido now, I would definitely try out a Yoshinkan school if one were available.
 

O'Malley

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I don’t know much about the different varieties of aikido. If anyone has experience with this branch, I would appreciate your thoughts and insights. Thanks!

The Yoshinkan, like other lines such as Iwama or Shodokan, was started by a student of Morihei Ueshiba and remained independent from the main branch. It was thus not affected by Ueshiba's son's technical reforms which simplified the techniques and made them more "flowy".

Yoshinkan folks train with physical resistance and their kata are very strict, with an emphasis on proper positioning, structure and leverage. It's one of the best methods to understand the basic idea and principles behind the techniques which make up aikido's jujutsu arsenal. Gozo Shioda (the founder of Yoshinkan)'s book "Total aikido" is in my opinion THE reference book for basic techniques, for all styles. And some of the top Yoshinkan guys can do very cool stuff.


Ah also, Shioda's grandson Masahiro is a skilled and passionate young aikidoka who might one day become very influential within the school and conducts interesting research:


If that sounds like something you'd like, go for it.
 
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Flying Crane

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The Yoshinkan, like other lines such as Iwama or Shodokan, was started by a student of Morihei Ueshiba and remained independent from the main branch. It was thus not affected by Ueshiba's son's technical reforms which simplified the techniques and made them more "flowy".

Yoshinkan folks train with physical resistance and their kata are very strict, with an emphasis on proper positioning, structure and leverage. It's one of the best methods to understand the basic idea and principles behind the techniques which make up aikido's jujutsu arsenal. Gozo Shioda (the founder of Yoshinkan)'s book "Total aikido" is in my opinion THE reference book for basic techniques, for all styles. And some of the top Yoshinkan guys can do very cool stuff.


Ah also, Shioda's grandson Masahiro is a skilled and passionate young aikidoka who might one day become very influential within the school and conducts interesting research:


If that sounds like something you'd like, go for it.
Interesting videos.

I had always assumed I would eventually teach my son kung fu. He is eight now, will be nine in November. But the truth is, at least for now, he won’t let me teach him because I am his dad. I’m not going to force the issue and risk making him hate it. Maybe in the future he will get interested in what I do.

His is an introvert, which I am fine with as I am one too and so is my wife. But I want to make sure he doesn’t become too introverted and still gets out and is active and has chances to make friends and get to know the other kids. We had moved into our city just before Covid hit so I feel like we are still digging out from that whole mess, school was disrupted and all that.

So I have begun looking around at the schools in my area to see if there is someone I would allow to teach him. I’ve visited some schools, some teaching a kenpo hybrid and others Tae Kwon do. So far I haven’t found anything that seems quite right.

There is a Yoshinkan aikido school not far from us. The price is far better than the other schools, and while I have been very happy with my kung fu training and have little interest in pursuing other systems, I always felt an interest in aikido. When we lived in San Francisco, there were a couple of excellent aikidoists who impressed the hell out of me and I regretted never training with them before we left. So maybe this could be a good school for him, and perhaps I will join him since I would be there anyways, waiting for class to end.
 

Jimmythebull

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I don’t know much about the different varieties of aikido. If anyone has experience with this branch, I would appreciate your thoughts and insights. Thanks!
What are your reasons for learning Aikido? Regardless of the Ryu it's basically still the same basic locks & principles. If it was me I would look at Tomiki Aikido. Much more interesting with a good Judo influence in there. They also have competition randori.
 

Mostly Wu

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My experience with Yoshinkai Aikido was brief(4-5 mos), but positive. I only quit because I simply didn't have the time, not because of any issue with the club or style. My main experience prior was in Wu style TCC, so I can't comment on Yoshinkai vs. other styles of Aikido, or Judo, etc..

The Sensei was very, very good. Turns out he is still teaching, 35 years later. His name was/is Takeshi Kimeda. No big ego, liked to talk about his roses. I found the breakfalls that he taught to be invaluable for years afterward when i was doing mat work ...really, really good stuff. Applications were very effective, especially the joint locks. A bit stylized, but that's partially what you get with beginners. The more advanced students had more flow to their movements. He also taught sword, which I also liked.

Anyway, the school itself hit the Goldilocks spot. Practical, disciplined, but not militaristic, or needlessly brutal. The TCC school that I came from had mat work, joint locks, throws, etc. so I felt right at home.

Two minor things for me;

1- the "uke", or initiator, was taught to attack with blows that were unrealistic, to me. Not a biggie...the techniques taught were still vg.

2- the kneeling stance that we spent a lot of time was incredibly painful to me in my toe joints, and I have a pretty high pain tolerance. I think that's a "me thing", so probably nothing to worry about.

As always, it's more about the teacher than the style, but if the teacher is accredited by the Association (in japan, i think), then they are probably legit. If not, you might want to dig deeper on their bonafides. I was told that Yoshinkai was considered "hard style" Aikido, but i didn't consider it brutal, or mean, and i came from a soft style.
 

O'Malley

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I’ll be honest, if this is a typical example of Tomiki aikido competition, I find myself uninterested by it. I would not spend my limited training time on something like that.
That video may not be the best example :D The problem is that live sparring looks sloppy in general, and somehow even more for aikido under this ruleset. And this was the final of a sports tournament so competitors played it "safe" (think how some boxers may stall with a point lead). Here are some highlights:


As mentioned, depends on your goals. If you're interested in applying aikido in live environments, the Tomiki style is the only one that does sparring (randori in other lines is more like dynamic drilling and quite compliant). Kata-wise, they are quite similar to Yoshinkan.
 
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Flying Crane

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That video may not be the best example :D The problem is that live sparring looks sloppy in general, and somehow even more for aikido under this ruleset. And this was the final of a sports tournament so competitors played it "safe" (think how some boxers may stall with a point lead). Here are some highlights:


As mentioned, depends on your goals. If you're interested in applying aikido in live environments, the Tomiki style is the only one that does sparring (randori in other lines is more like dynamic drilling and quite compliant). Kata-wise, they are quite similar to Yoshinkan.
That is somewhat more interesting to watch, but still not anything I am interested in.

From what I have found, there is no Tomiki aikido in my area. We have actually been quite enjoying the Yoshinkan and intend to keep with it. The sensei is very skilled and is a good teacher as well. It is a quality group.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I don’t know how I missed this thread when it started. I have never personally experienced Yoshinkan, but I’ve had a number of aikidoka ask me if that was my background, based on my approach. That and what I’ve learned about the Yoshinkan approach is enough to lead me to wonder if it’s Shioda’s Yoshinkan, not mainline Daito-ryu, that is the core of my primary art.
 

Tora_Field

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Realizing this post is over a year old, thought I’d add my experience. Seeking the austere beauty and “hard” style, I practiced at Yoshinkan Hombu dojo in Takadanobaba. Chino-sensei, a titan among us, instilled a ferocity in training that's rare to find. He demanded perfection and taught you how to achieve it. Seiza was a test of will, legs went numb, without fail. We learned to move with purpose, urgency, and efficiency. I passed two kyu tests on my journey there. It hurt good! Had to take extended time off, but ultimately did not go back. Circumstances outside of the challenge of the art prevented my return. My peers, including those of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and those enduring the senshusei course, became my comrades for life, embodying the ethos of “Angry White Pyjamas.”

Years later, I’m back in Aikido, but closer to my home. Have made the transition to Aikikai, will take the 4-kyu test next month. The dojo-cho is sage, old-school, hard. I’ve had to unlearn all of that hard, rigid, tightly coiled muscle memory I’d learned through Yoshinkan. At first, I was chided many times on foot placement. That tatami-mat distance measurement process that was ingrained into my being no longer mattered as much. Kamae, retaining kamae from starting a move to finishing it, is not stressed.

Recently, I attended the Aikikai hombu dojo in Shinjuku for two classes. was like stepping through time – “It’s almost the same as Yoshinkan,” I remember thinking to myself, almost laughing. Make no mistake, though, despite the similarities, Yoshinkan's rigor and discipline sets it apart. At least in my experience.
 

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