Ellis Amdur waxes lyrical about Yoshinkan Aikido

In praise of (not yet, but should be) famous men

Ellis Amdur blogs about Yoshinkan Aikido, David Rubens, and Robert Mustard Sensei –

I trained in his class one evening, and the Yoshinkan drills initially drove me batty – particularly the requirement for tori to grab the inside hand. But what I found remarkable was this. The night I trained there, there were two newcomers. again visited a year later, and they were still there. I was jaw-dropping amazed at how well they had mastered the basics of aikido movement, with a precision and solidity that I rarely see in one-year practitioners of Aikikai dojos. The repetitive basic drill, the demand for accurate placement of the feet, a solid posture with an erect spine – all this imbue beginners with excellent basic technique.

Inspired by this contact, I started looking more carefully at films of Shioda Sensei, and although my dislike of how he treats uke’s, at times, has not changed, I find his technique truly amazing. He is not “hard,” or “stiff” (though it is fair to say that some of his imitators can be). He is explosive – maintaining a stable base, posture erect, body relaxed, and then snapping into tightly focused movement.

About two years ago, I watched Robert put on a thirty minute demo, which was enthralling. He did some very subtle movments which resulted in his uke falling, but unlike how that usually looks, I had no sense of collusion – the young man HAD to fall. There was something very clean about all of his techniques – he used just the level of power and timing to take his uke to the outer edge of his skill, without taking off that edge. Robert demonstrated at the first Aiki Expo, and I’d urge those of you with a video to take a second look. There is no flash, no grandiose waving of arms or ego – just some of the best aikido you will ever find anywhere.


  1. Nice article on Yoshinkan aikido. Just to put things in perspective, I studied Yoshinkan aikido for almost 5 years (I plan on training in it again now that there is a Yoshinkan aikido school in my area). I still remember the basic movements and my body still moves in that fashion (even while doing jujitsu). After about a 5 year hiatus from aikido, I can still execute the movements and techniques. It truly is a remarkable martial art.

  2. Yeah, I trained rigorously in Yoshinkan Aikido for a few years a while back; haven’t trained in a while, but would love to start again some day.
    A martial arts teacher once told me that Yoshinkan Aikido is truly impressive for its teaching style and breaking down of aikido movements into basics that allow for very quick learning for all kinds of people. True enough!

    What area are you based in?
    I trained at Aikido Shudokan in Melbourne, Australia. Really great place, drop by there if you happen to be in Melbourne.

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