Aikijutsu is a sophisticated grappling art derived from Daito-ryu aikijujutsu and closely related to Japanese swordsmanship. In many other martial arts, strength and speed are emphasized in nearly every situation. Aikijutsu utilizes a softer and slower type of movement, with power added only after the attainment of proper form. Many of the techniques require only a few ounces of pressure to yield rather spectacular results. Aikijutsu is especially appropriate for study by women, law enforcement officers, and those who enjoy the challenge of sophisticated technique.
As a student of aikijutsu you will learn to neutralize attacks by throwing or pinning an opponent, most often by means of locking one or more of your opponent’s joints. Because the opponent is controlled through a mechanical linkage, rather than by application of pain, the “internal” martial art of aikijutsu is a matter of skill and not brute force. The objective of the art is to gain absolute control of an attacker, both physically and spiritually, allowing the possibility an aggressive individual can be deterred or restrained with minimal harm.
While the benefits of training extend far beyond self-defense, the foundation of Yamate-ryu is practical skill. The techniques of aikijutsu are not optimized for sport-style, competitive sparring; rather, the techniques are the result of hundreds of years of research into the means of defending against armed and unarmed assaults. The art will provide you a wide range of responses to aggression, from avoidance to escape to physical counters commensurate to the severity of an assault and consistent with legal and ethical considerations. We supplement our practice of physical skills with study of such things as violence dynamics, threat assessment, and verbal de-escalation, relying on the works of experts like Ellis Amdur, Marc MacYoung, Jenna Meek, Gavin de Becker, and others.
Realistically, few of us are likely to face unprovoked, physical violence. In light of that fact, worthwhile training must offer more than self-defense. The benefits of Yamate-ryu beyond self-defense include inexhaustible intellectual challenge and a moderate to intense, total-body workout. The nature of the training develops strength (especially in the legs), endurance, balance, flexibility, coordination, and grace. Exposure to classical strategy provides insights that can be applied to every area of life. For example, developing the ability to resove conflict — whether internal or external — is a skill as timeless and valuable as the strategies we study.
According to legend, aikijujutsu was created in the 12th century as a secret art of the Minamoto clan. Training in aikijujutsu was first opened to the general public by Takeda Sokaku in the early 20th century, and at that time the art became known as Daito-ryu. More than 30 varieties of aikijujutsu and aikido are taught today, embodying a wide range of technical and philosophical approaches to the art.
Although aikijutsu and aikido share a common heritage and some technical similarities, particularly in the early stages of training, there are distinctive differences in the arts. Modern aikido has been shaped to a large degree by the esoteric religious beliefs of its founder, Ueshiba Morihei, an aspect that does not in any way apply to aikijutsu. Within the Yamate-ryu, we believe philosophical insights are best engendered by honest sweat in the dojo.
As a supplement to your unarmed practice, Yamate-ryu incorporates training with the bokken (wooden sword), jo (four-foot staff), and tanto (wooden knife), to inform and enhance your unarmed techniques.
Prospective students of aikijutsu must be at least 14 years of age for the adult class. If a parent is training (with a family membership), children between the ages of 11 and 14 can join the “Aiki-kids” class held in a separate area but at the same time as the adult class. Required training equipment is limited to a proper uniform and a bokken.
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