24 | 06 | 2018

Teacher Contributions

The Latest Evolution

Since its inception in 1999 the SAA has undergone many changes. I believe that most if not all these changes have been for the best. They have improved our training both in quality and relevance. The following is a new introduction to the SAA and it curriculum being instituted as soon as possible.

It has been my attitude from the beginning of the SAA that no one is to touch a weapon until the rank of ikkyu; reserving the sought after katana until a student reaches the rank of Sandan. I am modifying this attitude for the greater benefit of SAA students.

I have for a long time utilized a bokken to illustrate the principles of a given technique to students because Aikijutsu is based upon Kenjutsu. It therefore make sense that in order to help students better understand the rudiments of Aikijutsu an equal understanding of the rudiments of Kenjutsu would be very helpful. Learning the proper motions for swinging and stabbing with the sword greatly illuminate the essence of all Aikijutsu techniques. Likewise, the basic principles of Jojutsu are essentially similar to the movements of Aiki. Based upon all these benefits I have decided to introduce even beginning students to the basics of Kenjutsu and Jojutsu in order for them to more fully understand there empty-handed techniques.

NOTE: This in no way means that a student will spar with or otherwise consider themselves proficient with the Bokken or Jo. Students who spar with or utilize their weapons in any method other that the prescribed way will be reprimanded! This is not going to be the equivalent training that one receives at nidan and sandan. That training is specifically geared towards armed combat. The mudansha weapons training will be strictly elementary in nature.

Currently, I am still working out the particulars of how to best interweave this new training into each rank. At first, it will likely entail some drills and basic instruction. Later it is likely that the fitting techniques will be codified into each ranks as appropriate.

Logistically, it would be most suitable for everyone to purchase and maintain their own jo and bokken. Therefore all SAA members need to begin acquiring a jo and bokken. The following are some options.


Shichidan Kyoshi Eric Templet Shihan

The Ideal source is this Combination Set available from SDK it is a bit pricey but is a very reliable option

Cost: $88

Japanese White Oak Jo and Bokuto set


Quality Jo staff

Cost: $15 plus S&H




Can be purchased through Shihan from HSU

For $20

NOTE: These are not the only sources for such weapons, but they are the approved sources and are recommended. NOT ALL WEAPONS ARE THE SAME, YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Any weapon from a different source must first be approved by your sensei before you can use it in class.


E10danvery once in a while I will be asked about the requirements that one has to fulfill to be promoted to the ranks of above Godan. There are some requirements, although they are not generally known to the public, however, the path is somewhat open to interpretation by the person promoting another to such ranks. Each person’s path is different. There are definitely some markers that a teacher will look at before promotion is bestowed, but to give one set of criteria as being the only measuring stick for promotion would not ensure the right people are promoted at the right time. Because the curriculum of Shindoryu only goes as far as Yondan, the ranks of Godan and above are honorific; meaning that a Kudan is not necessarily any more capable at the techniques of Aikijutsu than a person holding the rank of Rokudan. 

There is something that does occur to a person when they have been studying Aikijutsu for a long period of time. The difference between the ineffable knowledge of a person who has practiced for twenty years versus someone who has practiced for four years is significant. As this relationship between the veteran Aikijutsuka and the art continues, the art begins to make such an impression on the life of the person to the point that neither they, nor anyone else, could imagine themselves without Aikijutsu. The mark of a true master is the reciprocal; the art is enriched and forever bares the impression of that person within its essence.

Promotion to these high ranks is about a person moving beyond being a technically proficient teacher, what is required is legacy. The masters are those who have pioneered on the frontiers at the horizons of Aikijutsu. It is not necessary to re-invent the techniques or even to develop new ones, but to fully explore those that we have. Perhaps it is a person who founds several dojo and introduces Aikijutsu to new places for the first time. Someone who develops the theories of Aikijutsu more deeply in an academic way is a candidate for promotion to these higher ranks. There is not a way to strictly define the requirements, but a wise teacher knows it when they see it.

I have as yet not had the pleasure to promote someone to such a high degree. The exciting thing is that there are many candidates who could make it there in the near future.

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Becoming a member of the teaching staff at the dojo is a monumental step in Shindoryu. All teachers are asked by their sensei to accept a teaching position in the dojo. It is an honor not always extended to all students. An even rarer occurrence is a student who is promoted to Kohai at the rank of Ikkyu. So what are the major characteristics that the sensei will be looking for in an Ikkyu Kohai. There are basically three main aspects about a perspective student upon which the sensei will base his/her judgment.

1) ATTITUDE:    When you come to class are you ready to work hard without complaint or running your mouth? How do you react when a teacher corrects you? Do you make excuses or do you say "Yes, Sensei!" and get back to working on your technique. How mature do you carry yourself in class? Do you goof off and giggle or are you serious about improving yourself? Remember, you may have your stuff together most of the time but when you don't that's what will stick out in the sensei's mind.  Take a good long look at how you act in class and how you train. If you think it is a little silly or inappropriate it is probably worse than you think.

2) PATIENCE:    Teaching other people takes a great deal of patience and tactfulness. Are you patient with yourself? Are you patient with your partners? Have you ever bugged the sensei wondering when you can test for your next rank? Are you sure that you thoroughly pay attention to instruction before you begin working on your techniques? Again, rate yourself and then multiply it by 2 and that's likely how you come off to others.

3) DEDICATION:    Are you truly dedicated not only to yourself but to others in the dojo? Do you just float into practice any old time or do you have a deal with yourself to make so many per week? Are you ever late without just cause? Is you uniform kept clean and properly tied, or does it look like you slept in it? These questions, and those like them, reflect how dedicated you are to Shindoryu. The sensei has antennae that pick up on these aspects of you and they determine the worthiness of being a kohai that the sensei sees you possessing. As before, self-rating will help you to realize if you are falling short of the mark.

These are the main three aspects of your training that show how good of a teacher you are likely to be. Notice that talent and knowledge of technique are not along this list, mainly because if you have a proper attitude, patience and show yourself to be dedicated your techniques will be polished easily.  Remember, as always (especially as you approach Ikkyu) you are constantly being evaluated by the sensei according to these three criteria. If you become an Ikkyu and are not asked to take the Kohai exam, there is no doubt-- you have been found to be lacking in one or more of these areas. 




I never expected when I first joined the SAA that I would one day be a Sensei.

Whether it be the countless times I did techniques wrong and thought I would get no better, or when I use to grapple with Sensei Thompson and he defeated me with ease, I just didn't expect that I would achieve a position where I was considered a legitimate teacher to the point that I could train someone from the ground up nearly to where I was in rank.  


However, power comes with responsibilities, and I know I have only begun my training(particularly after seeing Sensei Crisp's Sandan test the other week and being beaten up for it).  While it is true that as we go up in rank our techniques seem more smooth and strong, what to me is one of the most important elements is efficiency.  Why waste all of your strength on one technique on an opponent when you must face several more?  Get the job done, don't try to gloat.  


As I have moved up in ranks in the SAA, one thing I have learned to do is see what the body can and cannot do.  For instance, Yonkyo Jo  places one hand on the uke's elbow.  Why is that?  Not only for control, but why else?  Because the elbow does not bend that way!!!  You must learn the limits from the human body not only by the techniques you do on others, but knowing what hurts you.  While it is true that some people are double jointed and blah blah blah, no matter how strong someone is, if you do an advanced Kote Gaishi correctly, you are going to do something really painful to your opponent's wrist no matter what.


At the risk of sounding pretentious, "know thyself," as the ancient Greek philosophers would say.  Which means, know your limits and you will understand your opponent's limits.

“In this world of uncertainty, ours should be a path of discipline."


—Shiba Yoshimasa

      Periodically an instructor will ask the students:  “What is something that you get out of training?”  Some answer self-defense skills; others may say confidence, or humility.  These are very desirable attributes, but one very important development in an aikijutsuka is discipline.  This is sometimes a “dirty word” in our society, where it is seen as something that limits our freedoms. The definition for discipline is any training intended to produce a specific character or pattern of behavior, especially training that produces moral or mental development in a particular direction.