In 1864 Matsuoka Katsunosuke combined influences from Tenjin Shin’yo ryu jujutsu (practical Japanese grappling), Totsuka-ha Yoshin ryu jujutsu, and Kashima Shinden Jiki Shinkage ryu kenjutsu (sword training) to create Shindo Yoshin ryu. The art was passed to Obata Shigeta, who created his own branch in 1895. Obata sensei passed it to his grandson, Takamura Yukiyoshi, who eventually called the system Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu (TSYR). Takamura sensei’s student, Tobin Threadgill, is the current head of TSYR and resides in Evergreen, Colorado. Threadgill sensei’s student, David Ruttinger, a shoden kirigami menkyo (teaching license) holder, is the head instructor for Denver TSYR. Denver Aikido dojo cho, Edgar Johansson, is also a longtime member of TSYR.
While many Japanese arts have modernized in the last century or so, TSYR maintains an orientation towards the armed society in which it was conceived. TSYR still maintains a focus on kata, fixed forms designed to impart the skills and principles that make up the art.
Unlike some forms of modern budo, this art is not for everyone. It requires commitment and dedication. While it has some parallels to aikido and the majority of current students in the group also practice aikido, TSYR is not simply a way for aikido students to get more practice or learn new techniques.
As the art is not entered into casually, there is a screening process that involves watching a class and sometimes a more in depth interview. Interested parties should reach out to the dojo for further information. Students of Denver Aikikai must get permission from Johansson sensei to make sure that cross training will not be disruptive to aikido progress. Outside students will be decided on a case by case basis, but due to the limited training time available, individuals who do not have prior martial arts experience may not find training in TSYR productive.
Visitors from other TSYR dojo are welcome to train any time, but please touch base first to make sure that there are no schedule changes.
Shindo Yoshin Ryu History and Technique, by Tobin Threadgill and Shingo Ohgami (available at the TSYR website)