I had my first session of Takamura-ha Shindo Yoshin Ryu (TSYR) today. It is a classical Japanese fighting art that is practiced by only a few groups world wide. I heard about the ryu through an aikido forum, as the headmaster of this style has been invited by some aikidoka to teach the internal skills from the ryu.
As it turns out, there is a group licensed to teach in good ol' Hamilton. The instructor is a 7th dan in wado-ryu karate and has taken an interest in this older art and learned enough to teach the first level.
So, first impressions? Well, the training was for two and half hours straight. No stops. They start with conditioning exercises, not the 'make your muscles bigger' conditioning, but the 'is my body moving efficiently and from the spine?' kind of conditioning. Let's just say those exercises are HARD. Of course I'm relying on old muscle habits so by the time I've finished that my legs are a quivering mess. All the others training today had been training for at least a year, so they are looking in much better shape at the end of it.
Then we move into some taijutsu (empty hand) paired kata. Now, the techniques are similar to aikido, except, everything is very precise and VERY subtle. Mind-blowing subtle. They knew when my body had lost posture before I did half the time. AND I have 8 years of aikido behind me! Granted, I was not as relaxed as I could be because I was new and nervous. If I did aikido the way I did my techniques today, it would be ugly.
The first set of techniques was from one wrist grab, same side. Then we moved into both wrists grabbed. All these kata are far more violent than in aikido, which I expected, this is more like battlefield jujutsu, you're were expected to finish the other guy off. My ukemi training was valuable, in fact the 4 other students were from karate background, and they found the ukemi the hardest. Not an issue for this fella. It was about the only thing I could get right.
We finished off with 30 breakfalls on each side. Tested the lungs but do-able. However, right at the end, as I was doing the throwing I got told again for the umpteenth time "Keep your back straight, don't round your shoulders."
Now I'm back at home with a body that feels like a train has hit it and a brain that is mush.
I'll be going back again next week!