Yanagi Ryu
Aiki Jujutsu Lineage


Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu was the family art of Japan’s Kotaru Yoshida Sensei who also studied Daito-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu with Sokaku Takeda Sensei.


Kotaru’s son Kenji Yoshida Sensei, passed Yanagi-ryu on to Don Angier Sensei in the USA, who passed the art on to current Soke Jeremy Breazeale Sensei.


See our unique interview with Breazeale Sensei below...


kotaru yoshida

Kotaru Yoshida Sensei - Yanagi-ryu Aiki-jujutsu



kenji yoshida

Kenji Yoshida Sensei - Yanagi-ryu Aiki-jujutsu



don angier

Don Angier Sensei - Yanagi-ryu Aiki-jujutsu



jeremy breazeale

Jeremy Breazeale Sensei - Yanagi-ryu Aiki-jujutsu


Jeremy Breazeale Sensei of Yanagi Ryu
Aiki Jujutsu and His Ryushinkan
Yoshida Dojo Interviewed by Tony Wilden


We have some questions for Breazeale Sensei on Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu.


Question

What is your exact title?

Answer

As it relates to Yanagi-ryū Aiki Bugei, I inherited the role and responsibilities of Sōke in October of 2014 when Angier Sensei passed away. 

There is considerable confusion about this title in the martial arts world, particularly outside of Japan, where it is sometimes used to denote a grandmaster or headmaster. 

Angier Sensei said it marks me as a steward of the Yoshida family arts and that our job is to carry the material from the last generation to the next, preserving it from the past to the future, to keep the line back to the beginning unbroken. 

In terms of teaching, Angier Sensei issued me an Okuden Menkyo in 2011 and that sometimes gets attached to seminar announcements.  As it was with my teacher, I just go by my name (although 'Sensei' and 'sir' also get used often).

The other labels have more to do with formal engagements and correspondence.


Question

How long did you study Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu with Don Angier Sensei?

Answer

My training with Angier Sensei began in July of 2001 and continued until his passing in October of 2014. More interesting than the amount of years, however, is the absurd amount of time we spent together.

At one point we spent four hundred days together in a row. When it occurred to me, I requested a formal leave-of-absence for a vacation to Hawaii with my girlfriend. As the days in Kauai unfolded, I came to realize that I had been sore from training for over a year; I had forgotten how it felt to rest.

Comedy gold, even if my body doesn’t agree!


Question

Can you describe how you were chosen as Angier Sensei’s successor?

Answer

It is as simple as that he trusted me to maintain his vision for the art. He told me as much. Angier Sensei had trouble trusting anyone and, for whatever reason, he thought he could rely on me to manage his wishes.

Now let’s just hope I don’t let him down!

No, seriously, this question comes up often and it is difficult to answer if you did not know Sensei in that way. He was equal parts brilliant and odd.

Mad scientist, recluse, and counselor. One of the most generous people you could ever know but then sometimes cruel as well.

When he chose me to succeed him, I was more shocked than anyone. Not only was I the youngest, and the newest, but I think I also had the least interest in responsibility of such a magnitude.


Question

Apart from Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu have you studied any other martial arts?

Answer

Yes, I began my martial arts career in the early 1980s, studying Shito-ryū Karate as my primary art. The dojo also had Judo and Kung Fu programs, and that rounded out my early education.

My family moved away from that part of town and I was forced to find a closer place to train. Advised by a family friend, I began training at Choi’s Martial Arts Academy in Portland, Oregon, where I would come to view the Karate I had been learning through a Korean lens... as opposed to the previous Chinese one.

I also expanded on the Judo I was exposed to, and start Hapkido taught there.

Early on, I met a man named Gary Hodge, who introduced me to a number of different arts and teachers he admired. He was instrumental in my exposure to John Clodig Sensei, who I began learning Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu, and Sifu Terry Kelsey, who I still train Wing Chun Gung Fu and Filipino martial arts.


Question  

Where are your Hombu dojo and study groups located?

Answer

The hombu dojo is located in Jacksonville, Oregon as of the recent pandemic but we are in the process of moving to a new location now that the world has gotten somewhat back to normal. 

At this time we have just two official study groups: one in Toluca, Mexico led by Erick López Sensei and another in Huntsville, Alabama led by Jeff Hotchkiss Sensei.

It should be noted that Yanagi-ryū people are notorious for being reclusive. We tend not to advertise and new students are admitted to the ryū very rarely. I’ve just taken on a new closed door student this year, for example, but the last time I did that was more than a decade ago.

Some of that is a function of what I am looking for in a student and some of it is due to the level of commitment required by both teacher and student.


Question

Can you tell us about the sojutsu of your lineage?

Answer

The most relevant would be Ten’ei-shiki Sojutsu, which Angier Sensei organized in the last years of his life, based on the spear techniques taught to him by Yoshida Sensei in his youth.

As students of Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu Bugei, we learned yari techniques as part of the kenjutsu syllabus, for cases where a spearman attacks the swordsman. There are about a dozen of these waza, depending on how you count them.

Then there are some vestigial spear elements found in the jojutsu kata as well.

Angier Sensei decided that the spear had become weak and needed refining. To that end, he devised two long kata which encapsulated the work of his teacher and then also considered what he had learned about swordplay during his career at a deeper level.

He was effectively trying to kill a Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu swordsman with a spear, find a formula for it and, for several months, that was our only focus.

The original idea was to improve the training methods for our sojutsu but, after the work was finished, he told me the spear was not Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu anymore but rather something different.

It was not until after his passing that I began sharing the sojutsu material with my students and discovered that it was quite a bit deeper than I realized when I was learning it.


Stay tuned, as we have many more questions for Jeremy Breazeale Sensei about the amazing art of Yanagi Ryu Aiki Jujutsu that will be answered soon!


We would like to thank Jeremy Breazeale Sensei for his time and revealing answers about Yanagi-Ryu Aiki-Jujutsu. We hope this will encourage our visitors to seek a dojo and begin their training in this fascinating Aiki art.


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