The Taikyoku Collective
Ellis Amdur is not a member of The Taikyoku Collective, but he is the originator of the Taikyoku concept. Orginally intended as a solo training model for Aikido, meant to lead practitioners to a more seamless integration of atemiwaza (hitting body techniques), kaeshiwaza (countering techniques), and randori (free-form practice) into their pre-existing aikido system, Amdur’s Taikyoku training model consists of five movement themes (kyoku) or force vectors that conform rather closely to aikido’s Ikkyo, Nikyo, Sankyo, Yonkyo, and Gokyo techniques. These themes became the foundation of what is now Taikyoku Mind & Body, subdividided into Budo (jujutsu) and Taikyoku Kiko (qigong).
Amdur’s training in East Asian martial traditions began in the late 1960s, eventually leading him to two koryu (classical Japanese martial traditions), the Araki-ryu Torite-Kogusoku and the Toda-ha Buko-ryu, within both of which he holds instructor’s licenses. Not simply a practitioner, Amdur is both a historian of and an author on the subject of Japanese martial arts, as well as being a professional in crisis intervention and de-escalation, a subject about which he has written extensively. Amdur’s professional work can be found at Edgework, his books at Edgework Books, and various articles and essays are available at Kogen Budo.
In addition to his koryu studies and training, Amdur has also trained in aikido, judo, Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, xingyi chu’an, and t’ai chi chu’an in the past. Most recently, Amdur has begun a new training and education organization with partner Don Gulla (founder of Arrestling) called Gulla-Amdur Associates, which combines Gulla’s Arrestling and Amdur’s Edgework principles. Furthermore, Amdur’s research into and study of ‘internal strength,’ principle-based training used to integrate the body in such a way as to create a higher level of efficiency in relation to incoming and outgoing forces, has directly influenced the Taikyoku group. Amdur’s reseach on this subject can be found in his book Hidden in Plain Sight, a revised and expanded edition of which is scheduled to be published in 2017. Finally, Amdur is presently collaborating with Bruce Bookman, a black belt in both aikido and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, to rework aikido jo kata into a set of five combatively sound, principle-based forms that tie directly into the Taikyoku Budo framework, each of with being a unique study in combative distancing and power generation methods.
Ellis Amdur has been and continues to be an essential influence on the Taikyoku Collective’s training and vision, bringing an indespensible degree of integrity and uncompromising attitude of martial effectiveness to the group’s ethos.
Budd Yuhasz is the original founder of Taikyoku Budo, an integrated amalgam of Ellis Amdur’s Taikyoku Aikido concept and Chinese internal strength principles. Budd began training in martial arts and martial sports in the early 1980’s, bringing experience in aikido, judo, karate, wrestling, and classical Japanese weapons to the Taikyoku group. Once a member of the teaching staff at an aikido dojo in Central Pennsylvania under the guidance of Ellis Amdur, Budd moved to Buffalo, NY in 2010 where he decided to focus exclusively on developing and teaching Taikyoku Budo as his main martial practice which he continues to do with Amdur’s collaboration. Both Jevin Orcutt’s and Robert Van Valkenburgh’s schools operate under Budd’s oversight and guidance, with these three principals making up the core of Taikyoku Mind & Body.
Jevin Orcutt’s martial art training began with Isshinryu Karate in 1985. Jevin later began training in Chin Mu Kwan Tae Kwon Do, in which he received the ranking of 1st Dan in 1991. In 2002, Jevin began training in aikido in Central Pennsylvania where he and Budd both met and eventually taught together. Jevin was awarded the rank of Shoden in aikido in 2008. Currently focused on training in Taikyoku Budo and Aizu han-kei Ono-ha Itto-ryu Sokaku-den kenjutsu, Jevin holds the rank of Shoden Mokuroku in the latter and and leads a study group in the former in Carlisle, PA where he lives.
Robert Van Valkenburgh’s martial art journey began in 1998 in Annapolis, MD, where he studied traditional Korean hapkido under Joe Sheya and Doug McKnew, reaching the rank of 2nd degree black belt. In 2012, Robert began cross-training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, eventually finding his jiu-jitsu home with Relson Gracie affiliate Gracie Maryland under the tutelage of Mike and Jordan Stewart. Robert was led to Budd Yuhasz by Ellis Amdur and Mike Sigman, independent of one another, in 2013, when Robert was in search of a solo practice and internal strength practice to augment his hapkido. In 2014, hapkido headmaster Joe Sheya passed away suddenly and Robert made the decision to dedicate his time Taikyoku Budo as a way to distill what he learned from Joe into his own practice. Along with being a co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body, Robert is the owner of Seiya UNLTD, a private studio for holistic and martial art training, and the co-owner of Kogen Dojo, a public martial art academy in Severna Park, MD where Robert lives and teaches Taikyoku and Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.