View Full Version : Dead koryu

22nd October 2002, 18:15
Hello all. Does anyone know of a resource for koryu which no longer exist, either online or in print? A simple listing of defunct ryu would be fine, although if there is anywhere that has some information on some of these various traditions that are no more, that would be wonderful.

Thanks in advance.

22nd October 2002, 21:48
Why, are you planning on setting yourself up as the only living descendent of said koryu and passing it off as the ultimate martial art?

Before anyone gets irritated, this was a joke!

I'd actually like to learn more about koryu, both current and extinct...

23rd October 2002, 00:28
Yeah, you found out my diabolical plan ;) Come to think of it, such a list might be useful in identifying fakes too...

'So, you practice Muso-XYZ Ryu? Odd, as it seems to have died out in 1712...'

I think it would be very interesting to find out what I can about ones that aren't around anymore. Occasionally I will run across a historical reference to a ryu that I can't find anything about, and I wonder what became of it.

J. A. Crippen
4th November 2002, 04:03
One place to look: Bugei Ryuha Daijiten. This is a pretty good source for lineage information on a lot of ryu, both current and extinct. Many say that it's definitive, but some take issue with it. In any case it's pretty well respected.

You can also look for reprints of several similar catalogs of known ryuha that were compiled throughout the Tokugawa shogunate and the Meiji era. (Does anyone have some titles to suggest?)


4th November 2002, 22:21
..if I could read Japanese :)

Has anyone recently translated the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten into English, or have plans to? I remember Wayne Muromoto once saying that it has not been. Considering the daunting size (over 1,000 pages of small type!), I could understand why..

J. A. Crippen
5th November 2002, 06:22
There are several reasons that I think noone has approached the task of translating the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten. The most important is due to its small audience. There really aren't that many people who'd be willing to pay US$500 for a translated copy. The effort wouldn't pay off in the end, and after all one has to buy bread.

Another reason is perhaps because it would require a specialist in the field. You can't just take this tome down to the local translator's office and ask them to give you an English version. The terminology is very specific and much of it has *never* really been translated into English. This is why so many (most?) koryu students end up learning Japanese, to understand terminology and perspective.

One reason that perhaps has prevented amateur translation efforts is the arcanity of the subject. It presents a lot of obscure kanji, phrases, and words that are not to be found in most dictionaries. The translator would want a copy of the Dai Kan-Wa Jiten available to look up the obscure kanji, and would want a very good Japanese dictionary to explain the more obscure terms.

If you just want to look up lineage charts it's not terribly difficult to use. You don't need an advanced level of Japanese to read the lineages (but you may not be able to actually read the kanji in many names). They are, after all, just tree charts of a sort.

Even if you don't read Japanese very well I'd say investing in a copy of the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten is still a good idea. It may sit on the shelf and taunt you into improving your Japanese capabilities. And you can impress the yokels once you figure out where your ryuha is listed (if it is).

(ObDisclaimer: I've not read the BRD, nor is my Japanese proficient enough to do so. And I'm not a translator, professional or otherwise. Just an interested student. I have heard discussions regarding translation of it before, and am basically reporting what I've heard and read.)

5th November 2002, 07:58
There are several reasons that I think noone has approached the task of translating the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten. The most important is due to its small audience. There really aren't that many people who'd be willing to pay US$500 for a translated copy. The effort wouldn't pay off in the end, and after all one has to buy bread.

There are plenty willing to pay that much and more. An out of print book on judo published in 1965 goes for up to $2000.00 in auction. The selling price is almost always more each time it appears which is quite often. It means there are a lot of copies out there.

So a translated BRDJ? I'd bet on that book selling relatively quick. Give it some time, anyway, and it would, or one could get their public library to buy a copy. Either way, it sells. IMO.


J. A. Crippen
6th November 2002, 04:22
Sure it would probably sell to some people at any price. I'm just trying to reason from a publisher's perspective (which may be flawed since I'm not actually a publisher). I figure that no publisher will want to invest in such an effort because they would assume that although they could get some people to pay nearly any asking price for the book, they couldn't get enough to cover all their costs (eg translation, typesetting, printing, etc).

6th November 2002, 05:22
Yeah, I can see that each individual copy would command a high price, seeing as how a copy of the original costs several hundred dollars, but I don't think there would be that many copies sold. Even the original is out of print now, isn't it?

Nathan Scott
6th November 2002, 22:08
From my limited time playing with the BRDJ, I would say that translating it would be an extremely brutal task, both because of the type of content as well as the length of it.

I would think it would require a partnership between a group like the Kobudo Kyokai or Nippon Budokan, and a group of highly qualified native English speaking translators that are also highly initiated in koryu.

Watatani did his best to create a data base of koryu, and it is a valuable and valiant effort. But it is not perfect, and a translation would be less perfect regardless of who worked on it.

If such a project were to be approached, it would probably be best to translate the book art by art and post them to a paid subscriber web page. Start off with the more popular arts that can be verified, and mix in less known ones in between. That way there is constant money coming into the project, with hopefully an increasing interest base, and a book could be published sometime in the future when they book is finished. Also, groups and/or individuals could request (and pay) to have certain arts translated as a priority.

This is the only way I could see such a project could be sustained for the period of time necessary. Having the information previously published on a subscriber site allows for feedback and comments as well before a hard copy is published. You could have volunteer online editors to offer their comments. Less chance for mistakes. Aikido Journal has had a lot of success doing a similar thing for their online article archive.

But the translation committee would have to be TOP NOTCH to make such an endeavor worth while. Otherwise forget it.


6th November 2002, 22:53
Let alone translating it, has anyone even read the entire thing?