View Full Version : spiritual practice in koryu

Eric Ling
23rd August 2000, 22:27
I would be interested to learn about spritual practices in the koryu - martial arts are widely held to be a "spiritual thing", but how far back in time does that hold true? I would be very interested to hear of spiritual practice in the classical Japanese arts, both historically and from practicioners' own experience in different arts.

Also what emphasis do the koryu place on ki? Is it an integral part of the art, as in aikido, or is it largely ignored? Are "ki developing" exerciese taught as in the Chinese arts?

Many thanks


[Edited by Eric Ling on 08-23-2000 at 05:32 PM]

24th August 2000, 08:41
The Chinese place a very heavy emphasis on "Ki", or as they say it "Chi". Chinese arts such as Tai Chi Chuan were developed almost totally as "chi" conditioning. The increadible feats performed by the Shaolin Monks are often attributed to the use of "Chi".

The way the Japanese arts utilise and train "Ki" seem to me to have a different feeling, one which I am more comfortable with and associate better with.

The introduction of Aikido certainly opened up the world of "ki" training and even "Ki" recognition, I believe. But I also believe that "ki" was an integral part of almost every art prior to the foundation of Ueshibas' Aikido. I find it difficult to credit one man with the discovery of "ki".

"ki" is simply life and therefore it is as old as time in its' entirety. Although this does not directly answer your question I believe that the nature of "Ki" ensures that is and always was part of everyting we do.

To me every technique feels like and acts like a "Ki" conditioning exercise when done correctly, or even when trying to be done correctly. Without "Ki" playing a major part the techniques would merely be glorified dance moves.

The reason the Martial Arts are held as such a "spiritual" practice I credit as being the fact that it requires such self control and self disipline. Also, depending on the arts you practice, the philosophy behind the arts are largely philosophial and interpretive. A good example of this, I think, is the esoteric implications of the word "Ju" and "Do" (not in the Gendai or Judo sense).

Also the relationship and impact of Zen Buddhism and Shinto on the Japanese arts also further emphasises the spiritual implications of the term Martial Arts. Sometimes Martial Arts can be seen as almost a secret society headed by all knowing masters that know universal secrets foriegn to us and so fantasy and our imaginations create something exagerated or fictional to explain this.

I hope this helped a bit
Sorry about being so ambiguous

Yours in Budo
Dale Elsdon
(Tsutsum Hozan Ryu)

Gil Gillespie
29th August 2000, 00:57
Hi Dale,

and everyone. The spiritual aspect of budo is very real, but comes as an adjunct to training. It is not more prevalent in koryu as opposed to gendai, nor in Aikido as opposed to Karate or Judo or any other art. Someone who seeks budo specifically as a tangible path to any kind of spirituality will be sifting smoke endlessly.

First, foremost, and forever TRAIN. As all legitimate sensei's have emphasized principles are learned through endless repetitions of technique. Train for the crucible of the moment; the refining forging of mind, body and spirit, seeking to operate in unison, the NOW of it all. Those NOW's add up, imperceptibly maybe, but inexorably, like water that wears down a rock, a treasured budo cliche.

Your spiritual uplifting will evolve through constant and HONEST immersion in the moment of your training. It is that simple, and that hopelessly complex. As is said about the Tao, try to grasp it and it will evade like a mist. Don't seek it, don't try to grasp it. You get tired of hearing it but JUST KEEP TRAINING.

Do that with all your heart every moment for a long time and amazing things happen.

Eric Ling
29th August 2000, 20:13
Dale and Gil

Thanks for replying guys - very interesting points were raised.

What I was really trying to get at though, is to what degree the koryu _historically_ emphasised ki/spirituality etc.

For example, mikkyo plays an important part in many early koryu such as TSKSR, and the Shinkage-ryu in particular shows a considerable zen influence, owing much no doubt to Yagyuu Munenori's friendship with the priest Takuan Soho.

I would love to know more about how such issues are/were dealt with in the various ryuha, both from a historical perspective and from practicioners' own experience.

Many thanks