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Cady Goldfield
18th December 2000, 17:26
Over the past week, I have had the opportunity to view videos and "secret footage" from some of the koryu and their lead proponents. The experience has provided me with much food for thought.

The traditional kata demonstrated in most of the videos (which were produced by the highest-level representatives of the respective ryu)were ritualized. Their demonstrators were devoid of passion or purpose -- as though they had forgotten the reason why their art was developed to begin with. Yet, each kata began and ended with elaborate rei that seemed to have more meaning to the demonstrators than the kata themselves.

My belief is that modern ways and peacetime societies have given rise to hobbiests who do not represent martial personalities. They prefer to avoid the intensity and life-or-death method of the ancient groups that practiced these arts of necessity. Even the koryu (or, perhaps, especially the koryu) are not safe from stagnation and drift away from the source and original intent. Based on what I have seen, the koryu themselves are becoming like inbred, pedigreed dogs that have had the fire and spark drained out of them, to be replaced by receding jawlines and hip displacia.

There was only one video -- one ryuha -- which showed a clear connection to its martial purpose and heritage. Subjectively speaking (after being jaded for decades), to me the practitioners depicted were the closest and truest inheritors and disseminators of the art as it was intended. Their kata were as intense as life-or-death combat, while adhering to the principles that the kata were designed to teach. It was the perfect balance of teaching/learning tool and the opportunity to train and practice for crucial neuromuscular spontaneity and mental focus.

I owe the quality of practice to the senior practitioner and teacher, who has retained the vision of bujutsu as tool meant to be kept honed and ready for use -- not left on a shelf gathering dust. It would be just as easy for his particular ryu to get lost in ritualization as were the others whose demonstrations I viewed.

It almost seems to me as though the sole function of many (if not most) ryuha today are to serve as repositories for ancient principles, but not necessarily as producers of able practitioners. The arts lie sleeping, their principles groggily handed down generation to generation, until it is received by one person, an innovator, who is awake and has his eyes open. He sees the principles and their cogency, is grateful for their having been preserved, albeit not utilized, and promptly procedes to reinvent and restore their original purpose.

If for no other reason than that, we owe a debt of gratitude even to the sleepers and their stagnant kata. As long as they do not lose their understanding of the principles (making the kata into meaningless dances), then the koryu will remain alive as the keepers of the principles until a martially-minded innovator -- such as Otake of the TSKSR -- comes along to reclaim them and put them to use.

Just some thoughts. Gotta go watch those tapes again a few dozen more times. Meik Skoss admonished readers not to use videos to learn an art, and I agree with him. Videos are best used to provide comparisons and contrasts to knowledge you already have, for overviews of systems and their methodologies, and to get a sense of individual practitioners and leaders of established systems.

Cady




[Edited by Cady Goldfield on 12-18-2000 at 11:43 AM]

carl mcclafferty
18th December 2000, 19:05
Cady:
I always get a little skeptical about "secret footage". In the Koryu I study the bows are pretty basic, the etiquette reasonable (I also get skeptical about the old "you may not speak with the master" routine)and the practical training is fast and hard. If you ever get to see Otake's (TSKSR)old tape/live or see Yamada Sensei (SGR Batto Jutsu) you'll get an idea of what I mean (maybe you have already).

Being a Federal Agent for a quarter of a century I'm not to sure whether a koryu art is field practical in the sense of sword work, but the study in strategy has aided in long term planning; and the strategic positioning learned has been indispensible during possible life threaten situations. Of course, failure to block/move fast and quick could/would bring you out of any lethargy you might have slipped into while practicing. But to be fair I personally found all that to be true in several gendai sword arts.

Carl McClafferty

Cady Goldfield
18th December 2000, 19:20
Thanks for the insights, Carl. My post was a spinoff of the musings we've been doing in another thread, about the stagnating of kata. Of course I'm aware that in any demonstration, you are not going to see anything near what the core is, but you should see a fair representation of what the art has to offer. Doing kata without purpose or intent -- even if purportedly for the sake of "hiding secret principles" or to give beginners a chance to see things slowly -- seems to defeat the purpose of demonstrating one's art to begin with. I mean, why even bother to make a video if you don't want to put your best foot forward and show the world that the fire and power still exist?

I have seen the Otake footage, and that is what keeps the hope going that not all koryu will go into some form of deep freeze. :) Nothing else I have seen comes close to his interpretation and continuation of a fighting ryuha. He retains the power, intent and intensity, passion and cogency of principles that seem to have been lost or are at least lying dormant in many other ryuha. Perhaps the latter are awaiting a person of vision to revive the art as well.

As far as practicality in application goes, I certainly don't expect swords, yari or naginata to be of much use in modernday warfare. Well, barring a nuclear disaster that sends us back to using rocks (remember what Einstein said about "World War Three" -- that it will be fought with sticks and stones). Still, if you're going to practice an art, why not practice it as it was originally intended, keeping the authenticity? To let the practical principles slip away means that we are left culturally poorer for the loss. We may as well be contra dancing or arranging flowers.

Cady

Regards,
Cady

Margaret Lo
18th December 2000, 21:08
It almost seems to me as though the sole function of many (if not most) ryuha today are to serve as repositories for ancient principles, but not necessarily as producers of able practitioners. The arts lie sleeping, their principles groggily handed down generation to generation, until it is received by one person, an innovator, who is awake and has his eyes open. He sees the principles and their cogency, is grateful for their having been preserved, albeit not utilized, and promptly procedes to reinvent and restore their original purpose.


Cady - First, I think it is a point of pride for some ryuha to serve as repositories of ancient arts. I also dare say that they may consider this function to be their primary function. To my mind this is critical to a koryu art's survival and the idea that lack of change is a bad thing - (for ex: choice of word "stagnant" vs. "timeless") maybe very much a bias of a modern industrial society. Maybe somethings are best unchanged.

Second, I wonder why you would think that the good practitioner is necessarily the same person as the innovator? I think the whole transmission of koryu relies on practitioners who can accurately reproduce the techniques of the past and NOT innovate and muddle transmission. In any culture I know of, that person is not the same person who has the charisma and spark of the innovator.

Finally, why should the concept of stagnancy should be applied to koryu generally as opposed to being applied specifically to a particular performance of koryu?

For me the analogy to koryu kata is in performance arts. Ex: You witness a pathetic rendition of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Does that render the play stagnant or is it just a bad performance of a masterpiece?

Hey I can ramble too.
M

[Edited by Margaret Lo on 12-18-2000 at 03:41 PM]

Warwick
18th December 2000, 23:58
Kata training can (but CERTAINLY does not have to) lead to stagnant, meaningless repetition of movements, with no understanding of those movements or the potential variations of them. It is up to the teachers and practitioners to be vigilent in their training to make sure that this does not happen.

A koryu is a living entity, which goes through a life-cycle, or a series of life-cycles, over time. The ryu-ha which people think of as being the most vibrant and realistic were not necessarily so a generation ago, and may well not be a generation in the future. Similarly with those now regarded as in decline. If you watch (either on video or live) a particular ryu perfoming demonstrations over a period of time, some ryu will develop, and some will decline. It is the responsibility of the members of the ryu to make sure that the vibrancy and realism are maintained. The koryu are certainly hierachical organisations, but every member plays a part in the life of the ryu. No matter how good the kata, a ryu is only as strong as its current members and their understanding of the ryu.

You can also often see at demonstrations two (or more) different lines of the same ryu, and the difference between the two can be huge, even if the split was quite recent. This ebb and flow over time is probably unavoidable, and it is a credit to the creators of the kata that those kata can survive (almost hibernating) through an era of lack of understanding, to be revived when circumstances (the ryu's present head master and members) allow.

Certainly in Japan, many practitioners of koryu train mainly to maintain a link with their cultural heritage, and have no desire to make their training combatively realistic. ("Will I join a tennis club, or join xyz ryu?") Their primary motivation is cultural preservation. It's a bit like people in western society who practice (for example) falconry. They don't do it to get food. They do it because they enjoy it (as recreation) and it gives them a link to their cultural past. It doesn't really matter if their training methods are in line with the latest psychological research, or even if they are exactly the same as those of their ancestors.

I think the Shakespeare analogy is a good one. All we really have to go on is the written play, with minimal stage direction written in. The same play can be performed in enourmously different ways, some better than others. No matter how bad a performance, group or interpretation is, the potential exists for a revival.

Just my two cents worth. Although, since I live in Australia, that's only one cent US. ;)

Warwick Hooke

___________________

The Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt.

Chi
19th December 2000, 09:21
Originally posted by Cady Goldfield
(remember what Einstein said about "World War Three" -- that it will be fought with sticks and stones).


Sorry... I know this is WAAAY off-topic, but Einstein didn't say that WWIII would be fought with sticks and stones. He said that (paraphrasing here as I don't have the precise quote at hand) he didn't know with what weapons WWIII would be fought with, but can confidently predict that WWIV would be fought with sticks and stones.

Anyway... I'll go back to lurking now...

Regards,

Chris.

Cady Goldfield
19th December 2000, 12:53
Oops... right on, Chris.
That's what happens when I'm trying to write a post while also pretending to get work done! Which also explains how I can come up with words such as "stagnancy"! :laugh:

Back to "work"...

Cady

hyaku
19th December 2000, 16:10
Second, I wonder why you would think that the good practitioner is necessarily the same person as the innovator? I think the whole transmission of koryu relies on practitioners who can accurately reproduce the techniques of the past and NOT innovate and muddle transmission. In any culture I know of, that person is not the same person who has the charisma and spark of the innovator.

[Edited by Margaret Lo on 12-18-2000 at 03:41 PM] [/B][/QUOTE]

.....................
Thank you very much for your kind words Margaret. Most of us practice the arts old and new because we enjoy them. With constant practice we all improve. But that does not mean to say we are all experts. There are various thoughts within koryu as to inovation being a bad thing. Or to succeeding Menkyo not being appreciated as they are considered to be clones of their respective teachers.

Without knowing which ryu and who was performing the Embu it is difficult to comment. However if one is watching the most senior people. That is exactly what one is looking at and should expect no more from elderly people who's attribites possibly lie in the way they teach and not necessarily in the way they perform.

As the promulgator of an almost extinct Ryu and student of one of Japans most well known I would like to think that I added a bit of fire to my waza. However in years to come I daresay the way I perform will not reflect the knowledge I have aquired.

The time will come that even Otake Sensei will slow things down a bit.

Hyakutake Colin

Kage Ryu

Hyoho Niten Ichiryu

Cady Goldfield
19th December 2000, 16:20
Of course one wouldn't expect fire from a 90-year-old who can barely hobble. But Colin, wouldn't one expect to see the principles and martial application re-seeded in these venerables' advanced (but younger) students? After all, they too are vessels for the continuation of the art. As they practice, so will their students adopt the method. If their teachers lack martial intent, then won't the art become lackluster and for aesthetics only for the descendents?

cg

Hiding Crow
19th December 2000, 17:17
To all people involved in this thread,

I would like to sincerely thank everyone for such a thought-provoking and mature discussion. The whole subject of koryu(ism) is always discussed haphazardly, and it is interested (and quite refreshing) to hear educated opinions on the issue.

I would also like to say that in my system, the Bujinkan, there has been a long-running issue of "koryu" or "not-koryu", which has been beaten to death, and subsequently I am not wishing to discuss here.

I particularly liked the comment:

"It almost seems to me as though the sole function of many (if not most) ryuha today are to serve as repositories for ancient principles, but not necessarily as producers of able practitioners" - Cady Goldfield

Moreover, I also liked the analogy of the Shakespearean (sp?) play and the actors, though I would like to say one thing on that.

When Shakespeare wrote "Hamlet", he obviously had certain principles or ideas in mind, ideas that he wanted conveyed to all those watching. And certainly if a particular thespian screwed up the leading role, that doesn't make the play itself useless. But if that performance is repeated for generations and generations, then the so-called "stagnation" can occur.

It is an interesting psychological phenomenon that occurs in people. Perhaps some budoka don't want to look too deeply into the "life of the kata" because they secretly fear that they might find out that all their efforts, all their indulgences into "samurai fantasies" have all been in vain.

But enough out of me. I promised myself I wouldn't ramble.

Great Thread!

Julian Straub
Bujinkan Kageyama Dojo
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido
Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu

Earl Hartman
19th December 2000, 23:58
I think the line of thought Cady is following in her post which began this thread is a false one. I think it goes something like this:

"The koryu video I saw was bad, therefore koryu is bad."

I think a better conclusion would have been:

"The particular ryuha/exponents I saw on this video were bad, therefore, I guess these particular ryuha/proponents might have some problems."

People are always talking about "the" koryu as though they formed some sort of monolithic structure. They don't. The koryu are, for the most part, fairly small groups that exist independently of one another. When you are in a ryu, you practice that ryu, not some other one. Unlike the modern disciplines which are subject to standardization by committee and are dedicated to having as many members as possible and structure their arts to achive that purpose, the koryu are not subject to arbitrary standardization by external forces. The plain fact of the matter is that some ryuha are going to be good and some aren't, just like anything else.

If we're talking about koryu as a concept as opposed to discussing specific ryu or their exponents, then I think we have a real problem. A concept is by definition a general thing. A specific koryu is a specific thing.

Anyway, I don't think that this discussion really has anything to do with koryu at all. It has to do with the validity of kata as a method of training. It seems that some people just equate kata with koryu since there is, in general, no free sparring in koryu, at least as it is understood by people involved in modern disciplines such as judo or kendo. However, there is kata in modern disciplines too, and I am sure that modern exponents have given kata demos that suck just as much as what some koryu people may have put on tape. However, I have yet to hear anyone say, "Yeah modern karate/judo/kendo/whatever sucks. I saw a video the other day and it was really bad." Yet, people seem to think it's OK to jump to conclusions regarding the koryu in the aggregate on the basis of a few videos of specific groups and people.



[Edited by Earl Hartman on 12-19-2000 at 07:35 PM]

Hiding Crow
20th December 2000, 03:47
Hello Mr. Hartman,

I am not quite sure that the thread is about koryu "being bad" based on a few videos of people. I think (correct me if I am wrong) that Cady is making a reference to a possible consequence of training in relatively anachronistic arts. I think that the further down the road of time we go, the harder it is to relate to the original purposes of what we are doing.

Indeed, there are people such as Otake-sensei who know the meaning of his "koryu", and are able to transmit the teachings in such a fashion that the "essence of the founder" (if you would) is maintained.

Another speculative example would be that without Takeda Sokaku and his genius grasp of his own koryu, Daito-Ryu Aikijutsu and subsequently Aikido might not be practiced at this time.

I think that big-K koryu (general) and small-k koryu (specific styles) are in good hands with people such as yourself.

Introspection would seem to be the watchword.

Yours Sincerely,

Julian Straub
Bujinkan Kageyama Dojo
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido
Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu

Tony Peters
20th December 2000, 04:44
OK having read a lot of differant opinion here I'd like to relate my limited experience with Koryu, SMR Jodo in particular. When I watch Sensei Chambers (no idea what his age is but he's been at Jodo for almost 40 years, if I had to guess I'd say he was in his mid late 60's at least) train with other in the class it always seems as though they are going through the motions. This is especially prevelant with us junior folks not so much with the two senior guys. However when we actually face sensei all thoughts of 'going through the motions' are lost. Watching it is like watching a movie it looks sorta one dimensional doing it esspecially with this seemingly old man is the most scared I've been in a MA class. His eyes twinkle when you get it right and the attacks get really close. Both parties have to get is right for it to "Look" really good with "practice weapons" The best I've seen was some Kusari Gama work where the soft "Weight" hit a nerve plexus doing exatcly what a real weight would have done. This Kata was being done by our two senior practicianers and the junior guy was in shock at how the kata finished. What we all noticed was that it worked truely and correctly (now we just have to try and get that same ablity

FastEd
20th December 2000, 04:51
Originally posted by Hiding Crow
To all people involved in this thread,
Julian Straub
Bujinkan Kageyama Dojo
Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaido
Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu

Your from T.O.!! I'm curious...where do you practice Iai..and Niten? (I apologize for being nosy). Take care :):

Cady Goldfield
20th December 2000, 17:02
Originally posted by Hiding Crow
Hello Mr. Hartman,

I am not quite sure that the thread is about koryu "being bad" based on a few videos of people. I think (correct me if I am wrong) that Cady is making a reference to a possible consequence of training in relatively anachronistic arts. I think that the further down the road of time we go, the harder it is to relate to the original purposes of what we are doing.

Yes, Julian, your interpretation is what I meant. My writing hasn't been too clear lately -- I ain't myself these days -- so I apologize for any miscommunication.

cg

Earl Hartman
20th December 2000, 21:33
Julian:

Thank you for the compliment, but I must hasten to point out that if the koryu (big K or little k, it doesn't matter) are in my hands, then they are in deep trouble. Fortunately, that is not the case, so we can all breath a little easier. I am just a neophyte in koryu, having spent most of my time in gendai arts like kendo and kyudo.

The issue that Cady brings up regarding "martial personalities" (are people who train in budo in the modern world real martial personalities or are they just hobbyists?) is a legitimate one; I was just reacting to the fairly explicit assumption that this is more of a problem with koryu than gendai arts ("Koryu and Stagnancy" is the name of the thread, after all).

I don't believe this. Koryu may use kata as its primary training method, and there is a danger that kata can degenerate if it is not done correctly. However, the assumption that free sparring will correct this is just as flawed, since few, if any, arts permit free sparring that could approximate real "combat" conditions (whatever these might be). Personally, I think that free sparring, properly done, can perhaps introduce SOME of the gut-wrenching panic associated with a real fight. I practiced kendo with Japanese riot squad police, and I was scared to death most of the time. Still, deep down, although I knew that practice was going to be painful and difficult, I think I knew that my life wasn't in danger.

It seems to me that if one is looking for "martial personalities" (however one might define this term) these days, the best place to look would be in the army or the boxing ring. Soldiers are trained to kill people, so I think that it will certainly be easier to find a "martial personality" there than anywhere else. Boxing may have rules, but I can't imagine any other "sport" that requires more raw physical courage that boxing. People do occasionally get killed in the ring.

Anyway, this is an endless discussion. I think it all depends on the teacher you happen to find.

FastEd
23rd December 2000, 01:37
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Julian:
The issue that Cady brings up regarding "martial personalities" (are people who train in budo in the modern world real martial personalities or are they just hobbyists?) is a legitimate one.


(!!!Warning...This is my opinion, sensitive readers please avert your eyes!!!)

Hell...when it comes to re-inventing the medevil samurai (or the western knight), we are all just hobbyists here. Lets not kid ourselves. (Yes even you guys in the black PJ's :D )



It seems to me that if one is looking for "martial personalities" (however one might define this term) these days, the best place to look would be in the army or the boxing ring.


I too, would love to hear a good definition of what a "martial personality" is..?

As to finding a person that exhibited the classical "martial personality", I would think that the modern military is probably the last place you would want to look. (depending of course on how you define "martial")

Possible definition:

1) Martial personality: character attributes developed from experences in combat.?

Well, contrast the experences of soldiers on the modern battlefield with those of a medevil battlefield. I'm no expert, but I percieve some fundimental differences here. (I.E. How many modern soldiers get to see the face of the guy they kill?).

I am however, willing to be convinced otherwise...

Hiding Crow
23rd December 2000, 03:31
Dear Mr. Chart,

I think that the subject may have shifted slightly, albeit not to a completely unrelated subject.

Trying to define a "martial personality" is certainly an ambiguous one, and most definitely problematic. You'd probably get as many answers as you would for asking

"What is the best martial art?"
(BTW Everyone, note for the record that I didn't actually ask that question :cool:, so let's not start on that!)

Quite frankly, I don't believe that the modern military is comparable to the "martial-nature" that we see in budo. In military matters, there is far too much emphasis placed on "the military machine", being a composite of thousands (or more) individual people. I believe that the emphasis for personality development in budo (at least these days) is on somewhat more intangible issues such as self-improvement, internal discipline, etc ...

I like the boxing analogy, Ed, but I think that (here we go) boxing as a competitive sport is not budo. This doesn't mean that boxing has nothing to offer, because I think it is a fantastic and simple way to effectively use your hands. It's far too controlled an environment (on its own) to be considered a war art.

Since we do not live in medieval Japan, most martial artists do not specifically train in aspects of war (heiho), and even if they did, that training would amount to nothing more than the odd indulgence into Sun Tzu or Musashi Miyamoto. To that effect, as one of those guys in black PJs, I don't make a specific effort to study meterology, or horseback archery, or poison-making, etc ...

Getting back to the issue of what a "martial personality" is, given certain criteria, I think that there is a great deal of room within Budo (the community) for a multitude of personalities. Ironically enough, this is an area of study that I am interested in delving into.

I also think that it is important to distinguish the difference between a budoka that trains in Japan (and is perhaps Japanese) and a budoka that trains elsewhere (esp. North America). Chances are, those two types of people have radically different ways of viewing their master, and their teachings (more ambiguity). Hell, the fact that you are actually paying your teacher for instruction means that there is a certain client/vendor dynamic going on (the degree of which being quite dependent on the instructor).

So, I would be eager to pursue this topic further, since it is of cardinal importance to many people (myself obviously included) to determine who we really are as students, and who we really want to be as teachers.

Yours Truly,

Julian Straub

FastEd
23rd December 2000, 10:35
Originally posted by Hiding Crow
Dear Mr. Chart,


Please please...Ed's fine, don't want, Cady thinking I'm a 'way serious dude' here..:)



I also think that it is important to distinguish the difference between a budoka that trains in Japan (and is perhaps Japanese) and a budoka that trains elsewhere (esp. North America). Chances are, those two types of people have radically different ways of viewing their master, and their teachings (more ambiguity).


Good point..and this has also been discussed before, I believe, within the context of the Koryu arts.



Quite frankly, I don't believe that the modern military is comparable to the "martial-nature" that we see in budo. In military matters, there is far too much emphasis placed on "the military machine", being a composite of thousands (or more) individual people. I believe that the emphasis for personality development in budo (at least these days) is on somewhat more intangible issues such as self-improvement, internal discipline, etc ...


I think another interesting difference here is the concept of "self"...this focus on individual self-improvement in budo. Modern military indoctrination is all about team-work, getting rid of that "self" centered perspective (so quite the opposite).

On a side note....
Say..Julian..I'm curious..where do you practice Iai and Niten in Toronto? I'm pretty close by, maybe we've run into each other before..?

hyaku
23rd December 2000, 11:44
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Cady Goldfield
[B]Of course one wouldn't expect fire from a 90-year-old who can barely hobble. But Colin, wouldn't one expect to see the principles and martial application re-seeded in these venerables' advanced (but younger) students? After all, they too are vessels for the continuation of the art. As they practice, so will their students adopt the method. If their teachers lack martial intent, then won't the art become lackluster and for aesthetics only for the descendents?

cg

............

Yes your quite right. Unfortunately a lot of people dont appreciate this. It is indeed important to pass down our teachers teachings and try to stick to any written basics we have that have been handed down.

What is good for one is not perhaps good for some one else if they of a different stature. Then again we should add our character to the basics. If we are going to change things that much then why bother?

I think you get the usuall run of the mill practitioners and occasionaly get someone who stands out. Its a big problem. Who do you hand down the style to. Your nearest relative or your best student?

Branches of the tree are not so bad, but there are a lot a Kara-ha (borrowed leaves) that eventually just fall. That way we can get back to basics.

Even here in Japan there are a lot of cowboys looking for instant success or some recognition through promotion. When they cant find it they move on.

I am myself well pleased. Some years of just doing Ipponnme. Now it has been suggested that press on with the other forms and that I should start my own dojo. There are no shortcuts. We do Ipponme for at least two thirds of a practice session. As Victor Harris told me some years ago, even reading Musashi is like Kendo Kirikaeshi. A 100.000 times is not enough.

Hyakutake Colin

Cady Goldfield
23rd December 2000, 16:39
The martial mindset or "personality" I spoke of means, to me, the ability to turn on that part of your brain that is capable of killing and can harness pure aggression constructively for that purpose.

There is a difference between "sport/competitive" mindset and "martial" mindset. While competitive mindset directs the mind to win, the martial mindset directs the mind to kill. While on the surface this may appear the same to a casual observer -- after all, hardcore kendoka are aggression incarnate! -- there are some very subtle-but-crucial differences. The martial mindset means letting go of all thoughts of life and self, and focusing only on the task at hand: killing. That's a pretty tall order for peaceable people in peacetime societies.

But, killing arts such as kenjutsu and its accompanying iaijutsu must have the intent-to-kill mindset, or else they are only shadows and dances with pointed sticks. To keep an ancient art authentic, I believe that we need to practice it as close to the original intent as we can without going over that edge. That's what keeps it whole and respectful of the tradition.

I believe that many people practice kenjutsu and iaijutsu without that killer intent. It's like baking a yeast bread without the yeast! The other component parts are ineffective because the key ingredient is missing.

Some may believe that cultivating mushin ("no mind") alone, without killing intent, is adequate to effectively practice these arts, but I don't believe that's enough. Mushin is vital, of course, because it removes the obstacles of thought and indecision that will create delays in taking action. However, it must be informed and driven by harnessed aggression and intent, as well as with actual correct technique, and intuitive knowledge of angles, ma-ai and timing.

As to the "healthiness" of being able to have killer intent, IMO it has to do with the overall person and psyche. Some people are born with the natural ability to "click on" the aggression, while others are not, or have been conditioned by a lifetime of social influence ("nice girls and boys do NOT kill people"). For those who have it, though (and I believe that many of us do, whether or not we ever call upon it), it does not preclude the ability to enjoy social and family life, and it does not make the person a killer or a danger to others. It is only a tool. In the hands of a sociopath, it is a deadly tool, but in the hands of a well-balanced individual, it is the source of amazing inner strength.

In our dojo, we practice waza with martial intent -- aggression with the intent to kill. Yet, we do not kill; in fact, it would be devastating to each and every one of us if a death accidentally occurred. I can tell you for sure that one would never occur intentionally. And, I can tell you how awful everyone feels -- collectively -- when someone is inadvertantly injured. I love the guys I train with as though they were my own brothers. The culture of our dojo is one of love, affection and deep mutual trust. We are entrusting each other with our lives while practicing martial techniques, the sole intent of which was, long ago, to kill, maim and torture an enemy. These techniques could easily maim and kill us now, in the dojo, but for the humanity and conscience that inform our actions and force us to develop that fine edge of control over the power of our actions.

We practice these arts, then go home and lead "normal" lives in public service or the professions and in family settings. We have spouses, children, relatives and pets. We are gentle and law-abiding.

And yet, that "click" is there, and we call on it whenever we train. Some in our school are less versed in it and are undergoing conditioning, in their training, to "think martially." Others of our members have, in the past, been "way over the top" with their aggression, and have gradually been toned down by the humility and the reality of working with others to a productive end.

While sport and philosophically-inclined "do" arts can get away with practicing without martial intent -- as long as the practitioners do not expect their skills to be at all effective in actual "real" application -- I believe that their proponents should forever be mindful of the fact that they are not training authentically, and that over time, for lack of a realistic setting and set of physical and psychological challenges, their art may be transforming into something rife with pretty-but-ineffective movements, and positionings that have no basis in sound combat strategies.


Cady

[Edited by Cady Goldfield on 12-23-2000 at 02:40 PM]

FastEd
23rd December 2000, 22:31
Originally posted by Cady Goldfield

There is a difference between "sport/competitive" mindset and "martial" mindset. While competitive mindset directs the mind to win, the martial mindset directs the mind to kill. While on the surface this may appear the same to a casual observer -- after all, hardcore kendoka are aggression incarnate! -- there are some very subtle-but-crucial differences. The martial mindset means letting go of all thoughts of life and self, and focusing only on the task at hand: killing. That's a pretty tall order for peaceable people in peacetime societies.


There 'can be' a difference (yes I agree), but it depends on the individual.

(my big beef)
Yet again though..you get into trouble when you paint with a broad brush..tell me Cady..if you walked into a Kendo dojo...are you telling me that you would dismiss everyone in there as having a sport/competitive mindset???? without actually having had the pleasure of asking them what their 'mindset' really is..? Are you telling ME that I can't possibly be practicing kendo with a martial mindset when I feel otherwise?

Hell..when I was playing high school rugby, before a match in the locker room, the kind of attitudes and emotions running around there would have been the envy of any drill intsructor.




But, killing arts such as kenjutsu and its accompanying iaijutsu must have the intent-to-kill mindset, or else they are only shadows and dances with pointed sticks. of the tradition.



As to developing a 'killing mindset'..oh please.., its pretty simple, most military training programs can do it in less then 8 weeks, no big mystery. (Of course, what they fail to do is teach you how to deal with what you have done in the months and years to follow)




Some may believe that cultivating mushin ("no mind") alone, without killing intent, is adequate to effectively practice these arts, but I don't believe that's enough. Mushin is vital, of course, because it removes the obstacles of thought and indecision that will create delays in taking action. However, it must be informed and driven by harnessed aggression and intent, as well as with actual correct technique, and intuitive knowledge of angles, ma-ai and timing.


I apologize, I just don't follow the hair you are trying to split here...my fault.



While sport and philosophically-inclined "do" arts can get away with practicing without martial intent -- as long as the practitioners do not expect their skills to be at all effective in actual "real" application -- I believe that their proponents should forever be mindful of the fact that they are not training authentically


And again, as has been well stated before by others, any 'do' art that does not practice with real martial intent is not being practiced properly. Your preaching to the converted here.



[Edited by FastEd on 12-23-2000 at 04:38 PM]

Cady Goldfield
23rd December 2000, 22:54
Originally posted by FastEd
(my big beef)
Yet again though..you get into trouble when you paint with a broad brush..tell me Cady..if you walked into a Kendo dojo...are you telling me that you would dismiss everyone in there as having a sport/competitive mindset???? without actually having had the pleasure of asking them what their 'mindset' really is..? Are you telling ME that I can't possibly be practicing kendo with a martial mindset when I feel otherwise?

First of all, I don't "dismiss" anyone. That has an air of condescension to it. It's not a matter of dismissal, but simply of acknowledging a certain state of mind -- one, which in fact may be appropriate to the setting.

I have just spent the past two days watching videos of Japense kendo bouts. It doesn't come close to watching, say, footage of Otake sensei of the TSKSR. You want to look cold death in the face, go look at Otake sensei.

And second, without intending to sound flippant, I would know that competition mind would be the state of mind in the kendo school, because that is what is appropriate to kendo. It is *sportified* kenjutsu, and killing (I'm not talking abstractions, here, but about cold, pragmatic killing) has no place within it. That colors the whole mindset, regardless of how aggressive and "out for blood" the kendoka might feel. In fact, it not only would be out of place there, but probably would get a kendoka kicked out. ;) If one of the senior practitioners of my kenjutsu school were to spend an afternoon at a kendo dojo, he would have to adjust his mindset to a much narrower and more rigid set of rules, and that would also affect mindset.

Anyone who thinks he is using a "killing" mindset when playing kendo, needs to talk with people who train soldiers in combatives to understand what an actual killing and martial mindset is.

cg

FastEd
24th December 2000, 00:53
Originally posted by Cady Goldfield

-And second, without intending to sound flippant, I would know that competition mind would be the state of mind in the kendo school, because that is what is appropriate to kendo.

-It is *sportified* kenjutsu, and killing (I'm not talking abstractions, here, but about cold, pragmatic killing) has no place within it.

-That colors the whole mindset, regardless of how aggressive and "out for blood" the kendoka might feel. In fact, it not only would be out of place there, but probably would get a kendoka kicked out.



Yes, most aspects of modern kendo are purely sport, but not all.

What defeats your arguement, Cady, is the very existance of 'Kendo no kata' within sport kendo. Its not just there for show. Yes, many if not most kendoka probably don't take the kata seriously, but (and its the critical 'but') some DO. And they practice these kata with intent, and at senior ranks even with real shinken. So where does this leave us, well, it leads back to generalizations, which I think you are making and can't support. ;)




[Edited by FastEd on 12-24-2000 at 12:08 AM]

Cady Goldfield
24th December 2000, 04:03
Hey, Ed, I'm not saying that this is something to agree with or not, and it's of little consequence. It just "is." But if you talk to men who fought in combat in a war, they will tell you that "bayonet-do" on the battlefield is driven by something you will never find in a kendo dojo, even with the kata (which I've been watching quite a bit of lately).

What you're talking about in the 12-year-old is not what I'm talking about, I suspect. There is a difference between sociopathy and the ability to use aggression with conscience. If you read back, you'll see that I've said that this mindset is only a tool; in the hands of a sociopath it becomes deadly, but in the hands of a mentally-balanced individual, it is the source of a form of inner strength.

You seem not have caught the gist for the whole purpose of this discussion in the first place, and that is the preservation of authenticity in the old combat arts. The mindset is part of that authenticity, and those who practice it to its fullest do so not because they care to be cold-blooded killers; in fact, they are aghast at the thought of killing. They see the mindset only as part of the authentic art they are practicing and handing down.
When that part is lost from an art, it becomes something less than its original design.

cg

Kit LeBlanc
24th December 2000, 08:24
All,

I have another, not very politically correct considering the status of most of the posters here, take on this. I wonder if most of us are even qualified to have this discussion. While I wear body armor and weapons to work, and have been in some hairy situations where my life was at risk, I have never had to take another human life. How can we talk about someone having the "killing mind" if they are untested in real battle?

Unless you practice koryu AND engage in a profession which requires you to be armed, and address threats to your own and other's lives by armed and unarmed individuals, you can never have the full picture of understanding the mindset and practical application of "killing technique" as found in koryu.These things were built around warrior brotherhoods. Without sounding flippant, as I do understand where Cady is coming from, the bonds of love and trust developed in a rough dojo is nothing like the bonds of love and trust formed in folks who, as a group, face life and death situations and come out victorious on the other side.

I really do not think you have to have taken another's life, though that would be far more informative and greatly increase one's self knowledge, deep down in the soul, of the "nature of life and death," as found in "shinken shobu."

But I do think one has to be placed, on a regular basis, in such a situation where that is a very present reality, and where one uses ones own skills to protect oneself and others while in the heat, fear and fury of a real potentially life and death encounter.

I do not think civilian self defense qualifies, though it can be just as harrowing a combative ordeal. Surviving such an encounter can tell you a lot about how you would react in a professional armed situation.

But it is more about doing such things as your chosen job, constantly facing these challenges, learning from them, watching your understanding of the nature of this kind of conflict, and how you operate in it, grow. THAT is what the koryu were originally about. Men trying to pass on the secrets of their own successes in handling armed confrontations as part of their daily lives.

And I disagree that such folks are aghast at the thought of killing. This is I think a misunderstanding of the very mindset we are talking about. Do we believe the Navy Seals are aghast at the thought of killing someone? They train to OVERCOME whatever psychological barriers they may have about that very act, to make the act easier! The training is intended to override this emotion, with control, in order to do the very thing. Police are trained in the same manner, but must be much more discerning under pressure and can only act if life is in danger. Military men, such as the bushi, have and had no such restrictions.


Kit LeBlanc

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-24-2000 at 02:37 AM]

Cady Goldfield
24th December 2000, 14:20
Interesting input, Kit, and much appreciated. I was hoping we would hear a viewpoint from someone in a such a profession. It would also be good to hear from professional soldiers, although I doubt we will for a variety of reasons.

As for the comment about "such folk being aghast at killing," I was referring only to killing within the dojo -- such as an accidental death in training. Or, an inadvertant killing outside the dojo, by accident or mistake.I wasn't at all referring to killing of necessity, whether as a civilian defending oneself, or as a soldier or warrior combatant doing so professionally. Most people (not all, but most) with whom I have trained, would have no difficulty killing if need be.

We do keep the reality check that none of us is a professional soldier or warrior, though, and that we are trying to instill as much authenticity as possible into an art which we never intended to take onto the streets. At least not in its overt regalia (swords, tanto, armor...). None of us actively seeks oppotunities to kill; that would be pretty pretentious and probably sociopathic, since by professions we are artisans, teachers, white-collar professionals and architects! :)

cg

[Edited by Cady Goldfield on 12-24-2000 at 08:27 AM]

FastEd
24th December 2000, 21:27
Originally posted by Cady Goldfield
But if you talk to men who fought in combat in a war, they will tell you that "bayonet-do" on the battlefield is driven by something you will never find in a kendo dojo, even with the kata (which I've been watching quite a bit of lately).


What 'they' and all other combat vet's will likely tell you Cady, is that ONLY on the battlefield will you find what 'drives'(?) someone. Saying that what you are doing in a dojo setting is somehow special or unique (hence your need to make it distinct from other MA's) does not standup.



What you're talking about in the 12-year-old is not what I'm talking about, I suspect. There is a difference between sociopathy and the ability to use aggression with conscience. If you read back, you'll see that I've said that this mindset is only a tool; in the hands of a sociopath it becomes deadly, but in the hands of a mentally-balanced individual, it is the source of a form of inner strength.


Your right, the analogy was poor (hence its removel). My point is this, I think your making this 'killing mindset' into something it is not. I just don't see it as a 'tool' or as some source of 'inner strength'. Its not something you can clinicaly observe in a MA's practioner. Its a personel thing, which just 'is'..its there in all of us, and given the right motivation it will rise to surface. Its not something I want to hold up as the defining element of what is and is not real Koryu. Maybe I'm just getting hungup on semantic definitions here...but honestly..when I read your explainations...they just don't sit well with me.

-----

By using your 'bayonet-do' analogy we might conclude that unless you have been confronted with the 'real deal', it is useless going on and on about what you think the 'real deal' might be. This leads me to several questions regarding the way you understand your training:

1) How can you identify in somone somthing you have never experenced?

2) If you don't have the experence, how can you train it in other people?






[Edited by FastEd on 12-28-2000 at 01:09 PM]

Tony Peters
24th December 2000, 21:55
While I agree that unless you are in a "Killing situation" (which few of us are) that cultivating the mindset for it isn't really possible. Koryu, and other M.A., do provide a very useful mental discipline for dangerous situations. The concept of Zanshin is very useful when you are working in a situation where you can easily get killed, such as an Aircraft Carrier flightdeck. One needn't be asked to kill to need the same mindset. Danger comes in many forms, living in danger is something that requires that same certain mindset.

Kit LeBlanc
25th December 2000, 03:10
Cady,

RE: Accidental Killing in the Dojo:

Geez, is accidental killing a problem in your dojo? I train pretty rough myself, but the only training I have engaged in where I felt a genuine risk of death was in live fire SWAT, with firearms being fired over my head and/or a foot from my face. A Clackamas Co. Oregon deputy was recently slain in just such a training exercise.

RE: Inadvertent killing outside the dojo:

Always a tragedy, one that very few budoka not working as an armed professional will ever realistically face.


RE: Most people you train with having no dificulty killing:


How on earth can you possibly know this? I don't know this about most of my fellow officers, or even myself. I trust in myself that I will be able to act, but until so tested, one cannot know. Nothing against you personally, but when dojo budo practitioners make blanket statements like this it demonstrates ignorance, not understanding.


RE: reality checks and pretentious artisans, teachers, white-collar professionals and architects:

Apply this same line of thought to your above comment about the people you have trained with having no difficulty killing. This statement appears to maintain some perspective.

Fast Ed,

Ditto.

Tony,

Facing danger in the form of interpersonal aggression is very different from facing danger in the form of even highly dangerous jobs/accidents without the threat of having serious bodily injury or death at the hands of another person. Read Grossman's On Killing for insight into this.

Kit LeBlanc

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-24-2000 at 09:14 PM]

Cady Goldfield
25th December 2000, 03:57
Kit,
I'm not sure why you feel the need to split hairs over the ability to kill out of need. I can tell you that I have been in situations where someone was forcefully attempting to take my life or "worse." Obviously, I survived, and you know I was lucky to escape with my life. In one case, I was in a good position to kill my attacker if he had regained his feet and continued the attack, and at the time, I was fully prepared to do so to save my own life. Fortunately, I didn't have to. But at that very moment, and now, years later in retrospect, I felt and feel no aversion to doing what I had to do if it came to that.

I'm not sure what more do you need than that, or what you find troublesome or take as an issue? The practice I speak of is *only* that of an old combat art/ As practitioners and artists we seek to cultivate the mindset that went with it. It is a tool that is a crucial part of the practice.

Kit LeBlanc
25th December 2000, 06:10
Cady,

I am splitting hairs because though you may have experienced what you say, you have no idea whether the others in your dojo can or would kill, no matter how much you may think they "understand" the "killing mindset" through your combative training.

Frankly, neither do you. You did not make that step from "could have killed the guy" to actually "dropping the hammer" so to speak, the culmination of the act, which is really what we are talking about.

I say this because this discussion is not really objectively discussing killing, or does budo training/should budo training prepare us for killing, or should we confront the fact that aspects of our budo might cause/are designed to cause death to another, or even that we can tell by someone's art of choice (a "sport" budo over a "killing" budo) whether they are able to do what we think they are/should be able to do. These are all very valuable topics of discussing for someone to truly understand combative budo. You seem to be talking more about your dojo, how the people in your dojo train with the killing mindset, how you consider most of them capable of killing, who you think/what arts you think train so that they are capable of killing, that you think you are capable of killing, etc. It seems like you are trying to prove something to yourself.

I personally feel that you are overstepping your bounds in this. You can in no way judge another persons "killing capacity" based on a few self defense encounters you have had, no matter how serious those encounters were, or how serious and deadly you feel your training is, let alone what prejudices you have about what type of training they do. No one can judge another person's killing capability without knowing that they have in fact killed. You can only guess. It is incredibly presumptuous to make statements to the effect that you can. You have some idea maybe of what you are capable of, and that is all.

In my biz, we call people who have pulled the trigger "proven shooters," because we know they will do so if they have to, AS THEY ALREADY HAVE. Everyone else can just wonder. Most pray they never find out. You seem to have it all figured out.

This topic, and a few others, do get my goat. Armchair theory and dojo "should-could-would" on combative/tactical aspects gets a little tiresome when presented as fact with little practical understanding or application. From what you have written you have been most of the way "there." If you really want to go further, to find out the deepest levels of your own combative/killing mindset, take a job where you have to live this way eight to ten hours a day, where you work around weapons and use weapons as part of that job, where you have to make that decision, "do I dump this guy" more than a few times and find out.


Kit

I will be away from E-Budo access for the rest of the holiday after today, so unable to respond to follow up any replies. Which is good. Maybe this one night of the year we shouldn't be talking about killing people.

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-25-2000 at 12:18 AM]

Dan Harden
26th December 2000, 17:43
Perhaps the discussion has become too polarized. Based on what I have read so far, it appears to be a dead end discussion in the making. It is a vastly difficult topic to explore, with much nuance and detail outside the realm of most people’s experiences. Having any sort of legitimate discussion of how "effective a koryu is" is like discussing which rifle or which battlefield atillery piece was more effective in the U.S. civil war. Who knows? who cares?

While I cannot speak of others opinions I can address my own outlook and teaching method.

I don't know who first mentioned it, but this talk of the killing mindset is over the top. And I don't know who, or why, anyone thinks they could teach it to a civilian populace, on a part time basis, in the first place ?
I'm not sure I even know what a killing mindset is or how to train someone to “ attain it.” Further, I do not think the civilian police forces including the special units, or even the highest levels of military training can guarantee success in inculcating a so-called killing mindset response in a human being. Although effective training under a stress environment and live fire exercises seem to have a reasonably high success rate “in the field” don’t they? Citing Kits examples, as well as looking at other military training methods, it does appear that ramped up training in a stressed environment does afford a higher probability of success once the trainee is exposed to a confrontational environment. In fairness I do not believe that much of what we call “martial art training” comes anywhere near that level of training.
This is one of the reasons Kit spoke of the subject being outside of the experience of most martial artists. His discussion of the “experienced shooter” has merit and is worthwhile to consider. While it remains that the experienced shooter did indeed prove himself and perform under fire, thus increasing the odds that he will do so again, I would question the validity of the experienced shooter being a “sure shooter” every time. No one knows what a human being will do with a given set of circumstances every time. Stress, and the reaction to stress, is highly individualized.

While I agree with most of what the detractors to Cady's hypothetical scenarios have submitted, It doesn’t cover the validity of, nor the methods that may be used, to “ramp up” an exponents training in hopes of making them behave automatically in a stress environment.And no, I do not mean making killers out of school teachers and accountants :-) Since various methods ARE used in civilian and military training with high levels of success, no contest should be offered that similar results could and should be sought after in civilian martial arts training courses. Particularly if one has the temerity to claim training in a “martial” art for twenty years. Sooner or later we should be able to make an accounting of ourselves and our efforts.

That said, I do believe the rest of the conversation can be a productive one geared toward discussing the response levels of various types of training. Whether it be a casually pursued non-confrontational art or a casually pursued hyper-confrontational art, the potential training goals and sought after results can be discussed, albeit theoretically, and comparisons made between the various methods.

I think it goes without contest that there are various levels of intensity in training out there. The idea of Koryu or Gendai arts being able to be pigeonholed and discussed as definitive things is without merit. There are just as many weak and eviscerated Koryu arts being practiced as there are Gendai. Further, there are even various levels of intensity within any given singular art form, from school to school. Trying to be definitive about what school or art may prove more effective will forever remain inconclusive, for the simple reason that we have no standard by which to judge. It is all conjecture.

Some personal thoughts on “effectiveness”
Effectiveness and the discussion of its merits is most often laughed off or summarily dismissed. There are many valid reason for this, not the least of which is that it is a nebulous path to pursue and ridiculously difficult to prove. What should not be dismissed so carelessly however, is that effectiveness is the underpinning of the very thing most of us pursued in the first place. I am not speaking to those who have openly chosen a peaceful art or a meditative “moving Zen” sort of goal. Their goals are their own. For all others, a reasoned discussion of effectiveness, or at least the simple requirement of it, has merits on every level.

Using an analogy: I find it highly doubtful that anyone would return to a mechanic who; with great flourish and attitude, and the ownership and wielding of beautiful tools of the trade……could not make your car work (effectively). His methods, his tools, his rei (there is garage rei you know:)), would all be questioned and ultimately considered useless, if he could not make your car run.
So it is, and rightfully should be, with these arts. It is a sad thing to see someone spend twenty years in a “martial” pursuit and be unable to make a showing of himself. Further still, to be unable to make a showing that transcends your average roughian, street fight “free for all” and exhibited anything resembling control.

Some people regardless of their pedigree and years, simply cannot make technique work. Others can make reasonable technique work regardless of the environment. They breathe life into the arts.

There are people who are earnestly trying to be “effective” in their training, but their training does not afford them the tools to be so. I have personally seen the surprised look on people’s faces as they watched their training fall apart before their eyes. Sadder still, are those who cannot resolve the conflict within themselves as to whether “they failed their art” or “their art failed them.” In other words I do believe there are arts that simply will not stand up to severe scrutiny. Others will, and most of us simply do not care either way.

So, while its amusing to consider and play with the thought,nothing can come of it
Dan



[Edited by Dan Harden on 12-27-2000 at 07:48 AM]

Cady Goldfield
26th December 2000, 18:01
Kit and all,
I'm afraid that his discussion has diverted away from my original academic point, which was *only* that there is a kind of intensity that must be included in a so-called combat art in order for it to be effective. Furthermore, those who attempt to practice such arts "authentically" are only trying to replicate that intensity of mindset to respect the purpose of the original art.

I in no way was trying to create some fiction of a "killer mind" or whatever term was used. Nor do I have any interest in killing, only in studying some fascinating old war arts that have no logical place in my daily life. :)

So please, don't read things into this that aren't there.

I'm afraid you and others are entirely misinterpreting what I've been trying to say. My error in communication, I guess.

So long, happy holidays.

cg

cg

Originally posted by Kit LeBlanc
Cady,

I am splitting hairs because though you may have experienced what you say, you have no idea whether the others in your dojo can or would kill, no matter how much you may think they "understand" the "killing mindset" through your combative training.

Frankly, neither do you. You did not make that step from "could have killed the guy" to actually "dropping the hammer" so to speak, the culmination of the act, which is really what we are talking about.

I say this because this discussion is not really objectively discussing killing, or does budo training/should budo training prepare us for killing, or should we confront the fact that aspects of our budo might cause/are designed to cause death to another, or even that we can tell by someone's art of choice (a "sport" budo over a "killing" budo) whether they are able to do what we think they are/should be able to do. These are all very valuable topics of discussing for someone to truly understand combative budo. You seem to be talking more about your dojo, how the people in your dojo train with the killing mindset, how you consider most of them capable of killing, who you think/what arts you think train so that they are capable of killing, that you think you are capable of killing, etc. It seems like you are trying to prove something to yourself.

I personally feel that you are overstepping your bounds in this. You can in no way judge another persons "killing capacity" based on a few self defense encounters you have had, no matter how serious those encounters were, or how serious and deadly you feel your training is, let alone what prejudices you have about what type of training they do. No one can judge another person's killing capability without knowing that they have in fact killed. You can only guess. It is incredibly presumptuous to make statements to the effect that you can. You have some idea maybe of what you are capable of, and that is all.

In my biz, we call people who have pulled the trigger "proven shooters," because we know they will do so if they have to, AS THEY ALREADY HAVE. Everyone else can just wonder. Most pray they never find out. You seem to have it all figured out.

This topic, and a few others, do get my goat. Armchair theory and dojo "should-could-would" on combative/tactical aspects gets a little tiresome when presented as fact with little practical understanding or application. From what you have written you have been most of the way "there." If you really want to go further, to find out the deepest levels of your own combative/killing mindset, take a job where you have to live this way eight to ten hours a day, where you work around weapons and use weapons as part of that job, where you have to make that decision, "do I dump this guy" more than a few times and find out.


Kit

I will be away from E-Budo access for the rest of the holiday after today, so unable to respond to follow up any replies. Which is good. Maybe this one night of the year we shouldn't be talking about killing people.

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-25-2000 at 12:18 AM]

30th December 2000, 21:05
Hi Guys'

Interesting discussion as always with the personalties here.

I offer my two cents worth here because this very subject was the heart and soul of my sensei, Takamura Yukiyoshi's motivation to teach and his methodology for teaching.

In my experience it is a two tiered challenge to keep an old samurai art in our modern society "alive" without changing it into something different altogether, something essentially unrecognizable from it's root art. This is because the environment of violence, the realities of combat, essentially "The battlefield" has changed. Without the acknowledgement and response to this reality the art will stagnate technically (although not necessarily psychologically) because the environment it was designed to operate in is no longer existent. But is this really bad?

In my opinion it depends....

First Tier

Often it's considered okay for the techniques of an art to stagnate because the techniques/forms are not the focus of the art. They are just tools or devices to teach universal concepts that transcend specific techniques. I believe this is the operational mentality in many arts labeled as "koryu"
There is nothing necessarily wrong with this line of thinking as long as it's weaknessses for modern practical application are recognized. Some koryu evidently maintain superior psychological training despite the fact that the technical practicality of the art has been compromised by time and changing realities.

Other's however believe that if the underlying concepts are truly the heart and soul of the art" then specific forms/techniques should be free for modification or complete abandonment. The rational for this is so that time is not wasted pursuing outdated forms. Of course this would imply that another form must be created to teach the same core concept as effectively as the form just discarded. This pursuit is understandable but frequently changes the art into something unrecognizable from its roots. If applied without restraint this would mean that kenjutsu should most effectively morph into gunjutsu based on the applicable truths originally learned in the sword art. Man, what would you call that? Gendai Shinbudo hojutsu.... LOL Sheesh

People like Takamura Yukiyoshi sought a technical balance between these two positions. A traditional bujutsu with one foot in the past and one in the present. It is my understanding that Araki ryu is similar in philosophy to the Takamura ryuha in this pursuit. ( How about a comment from Ellis Amdur here? :) ) I admit it is walking a fine line to keep ones balance in this pursuit from a technical standpoint. Without realizing it I ocassionally find myself emphasing either the old or the new to the detriment of the other. Tough stuff keeping ones balance here.

Second Tier

This is where there can be no compromise and is the most common failing of all martial arts. Psychology & stress!

In Takamura Sensei's opinion, where most koryu fail and some really excel is in manifesting the psychology of conflict. This requires dojo training to a level of so much perceived danger that the chemical stress response is slammed into by the student on a consistent basis. Most often in gendai traditions Takamura Sensei felt that this level of psychological training is never even approached... even by those claiming their teaching to be "realistic". This position is well imagined when you consider most common karate or aikido adherents compared with western boxers. You want to see a McDojo black belt karate fighter scared out of his wits just send him in to play around with a good boxer. Worse. imagine the average aikidoka trying a kotegaeshi against an average boxer. After the first blow lands you're going to see a demonstration of chemical stress response bigtime.... if it isn't already a demonstration of involuntary meditation.

Remember that this level of training is just not desired by the average modern MA student whether from here or especially Japan. Broken bones and bruises are not evidence of what I'm talking about here. I'm talking about real unadulterated fear. The more impersonal the better. You don't necessarily ever even recieve an injury to experience this level of fear... you just think you will.

The psychology of conflict (notice, I did not say combat) and the psychochemical stress associated with genuine fear are the most ignored aspects of training in all martial arts whether gendai or koryu. Some koryu never lost it while some gendai have found it. Stagnation exists in both camps and is not necessarily bad depending on what you intend to achieve in your training. Most aikidoka don't intend to train to deal with a boxer. It's not part of their paradigm. Karateka.... well... maybe they do and if so, they should turn up the volumn knob to experience what I'm talking about otherwise they're just "playing" at karate aren't they.

Conclusion


Many can pontificate or spout eloquently about death, dying and combat but a vast majority of these have never stared the grim reaper in the face at all. (I hear this bravado all the time.) The reality is that you don't have to face death to be a well trained martial artist and those that have faced death may never be properly trainable despite the mortality reinforcing experience. Real "combat" and the associated stress are impossible the experience in a dojo environment. Thats just the way it is. With proper guidence and a good teacher you can however experience genuine psychochemical stress and this is what I call the second tier of training.

Although abandon by many koryu, the psychology of conflict has not been abandon by them all. Those that have stagnated in psychology are truly dead arts but those who maintain a stagnant or antiquated curriculum are not necessarily dead. There may be much life below the surface, in the mind and heart where it is not easily visible.

A great karate kata performer may look impressive to the uninitiated when compared to a koryu practitioner demonstrating a simple sword draw but the karateka in his heart & mind may be a martial phamtom because the psychology of conflict was never taught or embraced by him when compared to the swordsman.

So who is the stagnant martial artist? It sort of depends on what you mean by martial and what you desire from your training doesn't it. Omote and ura.

Sorry this rambles so much,

Toby Threadgill

Dan Harden
31st December 2000, 05:00
Excellent response Tobs. I just hope that a balanced discussion can continue without it de-evolving into a "death match" discussion

You're mentioning the reality of conflict and the facing of it are spot on. further still, is the fact that most people have not been there. I suspect that many people would be rather surprised at their own responses and actions or inactions (good or bad) should a violent encounter happen to them.

So, Without getting too over the top.........

I think your tiered examples are probably a good way to add definition to the arguement. However, while WE may be discussing the validity of tiered training and induced stress, so is billy's "speed koratee class."
I have personally seen what some people "deeply" feel is adaquate response training to make people into "fighters." While the intent was valid and admirable, the results were laughable.
Futher, I have seen it and heard it discussed in two gendai arts where one method(an admitedly modified, yet recognized sport form) was trully gettin rather edgy and the other (with the famous one liner "One strike can kill") was looking rather silly. Yet both sensei were convinced of the cogency of their method and the results being "oooh" deadly. All you had to do was ask em.

I have said repeatedly that when I witness arts I seldom spend much time looking at the defense, rather I look at the level of attack offered. The level of attack offered is frequently telling.......
Who among us has the ability to lead someone through various levels of attack/defense training with any measure of consistant attack offered so as to induce stress? What about attack training while we're at it. What I mean by that is, the other side of the coin is almost NEVER discussed. How do you sieze and attack a human. What openings do you look for, how do you set up and read responses? Diversions? Timing?

Ok, all that said. Who is the arbiter of what is, or is not, proper effectiveness training?
You?
Me?
A particular koryu /gendai (fill in blank here_______)sensei based on his "supposed" history. Whether true or imaginary is of little consequance. Even proven methods or teachers may be ill equiped to effectively pass on what they know. Even when they are able to, some students never "get it" anyway.

Then...
Effective training in what? weapons?
free style sparring in a ring on spring loaded floors?
What?
:)

Remember that many people out there think they can fit the bill. Look at all the Aikido guys who have added atemi to their techniques, did them "harder" instead of softer and then started selling themselves as Aki-jujutsu masters. Have you seen Combat-Judo yet? How about all the neet new joint locks and throws re-discovered in TKD-jutsu? ;)
what if the TKD system has an occasional guy who can simply "fight well", and the Aikijujutsu guy is an aiki-bunny? does either example validate or in-validate the whole art?

I meant what I said when I said it is a rather deep discussion if taken seriously. One with much nuance, and detail that can be easily misunderstood.
It becomes highly subjective.

Chemical stress response:
This is something that I believe can be attained in a dojo environment and done so repeatedly. However it must be a tailored exercise with varying levels of control on the antogonists side. Once an adept is brought through stages or tiers, the response needs to be altered. Ultimately the aim will be to ramp up the response and this requires experience to do.

Fear, and the resultant adrenellin dump:
This can and will produce interesting responses in a person; interupted breathing, profuse sweating, narrowing of vision, slow motor response, loss of fine motor movement,the otherworldy "I didn't think I just acted" (which, in realtiy, can be both good and bad). These join together to produce the "runners wall" (if you will) to an artist.

It is my opinion (just an opinion mind you)that proper training should include facing "the wall" and doing so until you can function through it.
If you are about the business you will hear students talk of it. "The buzz" the "narrow vision" "automatic response"
the head spinning ride home.....

A small but beautiful and comical example of it, is something I just saw recently in an otake training video at his Dojo. He was in Kata with a student, The student was hyper intense with *sweat pouring out* profusely. Otake was cool and calm. Both were moving at an accelerated yet managable metered pace in Kata. When it stopped, suddenly you saw the students posture and zanshin collapse! He broke into a wide grin, a sort of, "I did it" IT's over" and the whole room gave a knowing laugh.

I agree that this type of training can be had without excessive danger to the opponents life or limbs. But! Randori, done without voluntary throwing yourself as uke, and actually offering centered attacks to a shite who uses very soft techniques not designed to throw people gently rolling away but to break joints and drop vertically, as well as choke do sometimes result in injuries.

All THAT said, chemically induced stress isn't hard to do to my mother, aks her to drive in 2" of snow. Chemically inducing stress in me may be a whole other topic.....
Like asking me to DRIVE my mother somewhere in 2" of snow.

Koryu and its modern relavancy
I think many elements in Koryu may be highly relavant in todays world. INCLUDING modified techniques.

As a side note it is rare to hear anyone talk about Koryu weapons training and any correlation to modern combatives. There are various methods of dealing with multiple armed opponets that have a correlation to modern hand gun combatives. as a small example; The Vectoring and attack methods for startling and upsettting one opponent to another, then re-aquiring for a kill, have direct correlation to modern room sweep techniques. I seriously doubt any sixteen century Bushi had to think about target aquisition and offline handgun firing, but the body mechanics are all relavant from sword to hand gun.
Moreover, the psychology of combat, I would suppose, transcends time and circumstance.


Dan
Look at that Kit! Not one mention of killers and "killing mindset," And not one drop of saliva on the keyboard. :rolleyes:





[Edited by Dan Harden on 12-31-2000 at 12:16 AM]

Tony Peters
31st December 2000, 07:40
You (and Toby to some extent) struck at the heart of what I was trying to get. Stress is a chemical function/malfunction. I have been scared in the Dojo I have been scared in car accidents hell I've even been scared in fights but the most scared I've ever been was "WORKING" on the flightdeck of an aircraft carrier. How one deals with stress is trained not natural in my opinion. If your Dojo trains in a manner as Dan describes then stress just becomes something else you deal with if you don't well then you freeze in a bad situation and if your lucky you live and learn. I'll not stand here and say that Combat is easy (that would be stupid) but I will say that I've lived though working in the worlds most dangerous job bar none. the skills I learned on the mat made a big difference to my survival.
As for Koryu weapons, in class last sunday I notice the truely deceptive way some techniques are performed. This is not to say that my sempai was tricking me rather that his proper execution of of a simple Hontai uchi was such that I couldn't see how long the stick was or exactly where he was in the swing. I really had to rely on other cues to maitain proper ma-ai (and not get brained). I've seem security forces on base and police officers training with both battons and drawing techniques that acheive this same result. From an observers POV this isn't something you can see easily but from the business end of the weapon it proved to be down right spooky. I fell it a very defencive position that my sensei immediatly saw and commented on when we were finished. My comments about it were met with some amusement and then agreement. Now I just have to figure out how to do it myself.

Kit LeBlanc
31st December 2000, 08:19
Thanks Dan!

You and Toby have taken this discussion in the right direction. Perhaps the whole "killing mind" and killing in the dojo thing won't surface again either, and I won't feel I should respond to it again!



Kit

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-31-2000 at 02:23 AM]

Scott
31st December 2000, 10:26
Fellow e-Budo correspondents,

I have been a member of this message board for about 3 days now and I am in heaven!! I have never had the opportunity to correspond with so many thoughtful reasoned people about subjects that are important to me.
Let me say that I have found everyone’s perspectives to be interesting and thought provoking. One of the concerns I have found mentioned on many of the e-Budo threads is the fact that the discussions seem to get off the original topic. I personally welcome the differing directions that individuals take and the themes that each individual is passionate about. Remember that this is the first BB I have participated in since I have been on the net (approx. 5 years now). I am still not sure if getting off topic is considered bad form or if it is just a slight irritation for some.

At any rate, what I would like to address is the topic of kata and/or training loosing the “passion or purpose-- as though they had forgotten the reason why their art was developed to begin with,” that Cady mentioned in the initial post on this thread.

I have been reading a very interesting book written by D. T. Suzuki entitled, “Zen and Japanese Culture”. Even though Japanese culture is mentioned in the title it is primarily concerned with Zen’s relationship to swordsmanship in the Japanese culture. In section 3 of the chapter entitled “Zen and Swordsmanship”, D. T. writes:

“When the sword is in the hands of a technician-swordsman skilled in its use, it is no more than an instrument with no mind of its own. What it does is done mechanically, and there is no myoyu discernible in it. But when the sword is held by the swordsman whose spiritual attainment is such that he holds it as though not holding it, it is identified with the man himself, it acquires a soul, it moves with all the subtleties that have been imbedded in him as a swordsman. The man emptied of all thoughts, all emotions originating from fear, all sense of insecurity, all desire to win, is not conscious of using the sword; both man and sword turn into instruments in the hands, as it were, of the unconscious, and it is this unconscious that achieves wonders of creativity. It is here that swordplay becomes an art. …The swordsman calls this unconscious “the mind that is no-mind” (mushin no shin).”

I know that to many of you the information in this passage is not news, but read the definition of myoyu that D. T. provides. I think it addresses Cady’s concerns aptly. At least I think it identifies what Cady perceives is missing.

“ Myoyu…or simply myo is quite a difficult word for English-speaking people to grasp. It is a certain artistic quality perceivable not only in works of art but in anything in Nature or life. The sword in the hands of the swordsman attains this quality when it is not a mere display of technical skill patiently learned under the tutorship of a good master, for myo is something original and creative growing out of one’s own unconscious. The hands may move according to the technique given to every student, but there is a certain spontaneity and personal creativity when the technique, conceptualized and universalized, is handled by the master hand.”

Later he paraphrases Yagu Tajima no kami Munenori:

“He says that the mind that is no mind is the last stage in the art of swordplay. “To be of no-mind” (mushin) means the “everyday mind” (heijo-shin), and when this is attained, everything goes well. In the beginning, one naturally endeavors to do his best in handling the sword, as learning any other art. The technique has to be mastered. But as soon as his mind is fixed on anything, for instance if he desires to do well, or display his skill, or to excel others, or if he is too anxiously bent on mastering his art, he is sure to commit more mistakes than are actually necessary. Why? Because his self-consciousness or ego-consciousness is too conspicuously present over the entire range of his attention—which fact interferes with a free display of whatever proficiency he has so far acquired or is going to acquire. He must rid himself of this obtruding self- or ego-consciousness and apply himself to the work to be done as if nothing particular were taking place at the moment. When things are performed in a state of no-mind (mushin) or no-thought (munen) which means the absence of all modes of self- or ego-consciousness, the actor is perfectly free from inhibitions and feels nothing thwarting his line of behavior.”

Tell me what you think.


Sincerely,
Scott R. Brown

Cady Goldfield
31st December 2000, 14:26
Originally posted by Kit LeBlanc
Thanks Dan!

You and Toby have taken this discussion in the right direction. Perhaps the whole "killing mind" and killing in the dojo thing won't surface again either, and I won't feel I should respond to it again!



Kit

[Edited by Kit LeBlanc on 12-31-2000 at 02:23 AM]

Gimme a break, Kit. :rolleyes:

Kit LeBlanc
31st December 2000, 22:50
Cady,

Please. You posted some things, your opinions, where I felt you were off base. I posted and called you on things that I disagreed with. Isn't that what E-Budo is all about?

There was no "saliva" on the keyboard when I posted. You started talking about killing, killing mind, and your opinion of people in your dojo and their capacity in this area, and it is not appropriate to state my opinion on this? Why? Because I don't agree with what you are saying?

Perhaps I misunderstood your postings, as you previously stated. Maybe I am being misunderstood as well.

Kit LeBlanc

Soulend
31st December 2000, 23:25
Welcome to http://www.pointless_arguments.com

Scott
31st December 2000, 23:43
Didn't anyone read my post.
Cady, does it or does it not address your original question?

Sincerely,
Scott R. Brown

Cady Goldfield
1st January 2001, 01:17
Kit,
You are still commenting based on what I believe are misinterpretations of what I was trying to say. However, Dan and Toby have far more experience than I, and did a much better job expressing completely what I intended. Thus, I shall leave any future opining on these and all other related subjects to them. But, I'll sing it one more time, then give it a permanent rest: If one is going to practice a combat system, the sole intent of which was to kill an opponent, then to try to perpetuate its existance and practice without fully committing oneself to the intent and intensity -- both physically and psychologically -- reduces the method to dancing in the air with a pointed stick. Without ever wanting to actually kill a person, we strive to put full intent, focus and purpose into each stroke in order to approximate the authenticity of the art. That's all. 'K?
I'm going over to GardenWeb.com now to have pleasant discussions on transplanting ornamental bamboos and forcing amaryllis bulbs indoors. :)

Scott,
Interesting post and insights.
What you are suggesting is perhaps more elaborate and more philosophical was than my original intent, which was more simplistic and basic. The approach set forth in "The Sword and the Mind" (the work of Munenori Yagyu) is more in keeping, philosophically. IOW, a pragmatic assessment of sword combat method and strategies, and their accompanying logic.

Happy New Year/Century/Millennium all. Yes, I mean you too, Kit! :)

Kit LeBlanc
1st January 2001, 05:22
Cady,

I guess the above was just my own reaction, based on my personal experiences with so many budo folks who claim deep romantic warrior and/or killer elite notions yet are really pretty clueless about real conflict where their personal safety is truly in jeopardy, let alone doing it professionally. And what such a life does to people.

This is something which most do not want to face for themselves, yet seem to think they HAVE faced through virtue of their dojo training, and that such training is really the "field of conflict," and that they are thus qualified to comment on their combative experience. So yeah, maybe I unloaded a little.

At least you are dealing with these questions in your training. So many don't even think about what the subject really means.

And Happy New Year to you too.

Kit LeBlanc

1st January 2001, 08:06
Dan,

You stated:

"As a side note it is rare to hear anyone talk about Koryu weapons training and any correlation to modern combatives. There are various methods of dealing with multiple armed opponets that have a correlation to modern hand gun combatives."

Absolutely Amen! It's interesting isn't it that so many critics of classical martial arts miss that important fact. Hyoho is hyoho huh?

Kind of reminds me of the time that a local TKD 8th dan was flabbergasted by my curiousity about why he performed a particular kata the way he did. It was obvious that he never really considered why he was doing what he was... only what.
But of course like you alluded to, he was doing "the REAL thing". He later told me so!

Despite all the years of dedication, I worry all the time if I know enough, am giving enough and if my my students are really getting any of it. I guess thats all I can do, huh?

I hope all goes well with you in 2001 Dan.

Tobs

Usagi
2nd January 2001, 18:18
Great topic!

I have had some students who were "proven shooters". And two who used knives(for real).

They've killed and seriously hurted people, on the duty and on self defense (or so they pledge).

And i must say that they have a real hard time on learning how to do kata properly!

Why? Simple because they DON'T FEEL THREATENED BY THE ATTACKS.

People who have killed and survived life and death situations, don't see their partners in training as agressors. They know they are safe.

I truly think that what Cady felt missing on the kata presented on the tape was the respect for the menace that shite and the uke present to each other.

The fear factor is what makes a kata realistic; the knowledge that the bokken can crack your skull and that you MUST perform right or "die" (melodramatic, isn't????)

To try to give this sense of "emergency" to my friends in the dojo (i don't think of them as students) i, sometimes, cheat. I change some movement in the kata to see if they are "living" the kata or just repeating memorized moviments.

The text brought by Scott bring back the idea of learning patterns of behaviour that lead to turn unatural movements into natural reflexes.

But kata should be felt not memorized. If you parry because you remember that this is what the shite should do your kata will teach you nothing. If you open your guard in a way that brings such an attack that MUST BE PARRIED, THEN your kata will be right...

The kata is like talking to your father:

You know what he is going o say and you know what you shouldn't say but you will do it just the same because that is what is supposed to happens :)

Um abração galera e um grande ano novo!!!!!!!!

Scott
2nd January 2001, 19:22
Renato,

I agree with you. In my system we call kata, forms. We use the term internalized to designate when a form is memorized. Even though "memorized" is not an adequate description. When a form is internalized the "body" is what has the movements memorized. When this occurs the student begins to work on developing what we call "presence".

Presence can properly be defined as the projection of attitude and spirit to occupy space. Much of presence is visual. In other words, you send visual cues to others through how you present your body and facial expressions. How you project your mind and spirit through your eyes is just as important. It is possible to project presence without having the ability to project the spirit, however nothing is superior to the projection of spiritual presence. Projecting the spirit is an ability obtained through mastery of the self. Presence should send the message of calm, self-confidence, competence, and direct, focused intention.

Earl Hartman
2nd January 2001, 19:25
I was away from e-budo over the holidays, and have just gotten back to this discussion. Some good stuff.

To read between the lines here, it seems that Cady was, essentially, commenting favorably on the intensity of the supposed "killing intent" displayed in the TSKSR kata she saw on the tapes she mentioned and lamenting the fact that she felt this intensity was missing in some of the other demos she had seen.

I think she is right, as far as that goes. Most of the TSKSR demos I have seen have been notable for the speed and realistic feel of the kata they demonstrate. It is really good stuff. And I will also say that I have seen a lot of really bogus stuff at various demos ("koryu" or "gendai", it doean't matter).

I also agree that without an element of perceived danger in how the kata are perfomed, it will be hard for the practitioner to gain any insight into how he or she might respond in a truly dangerous situation. So, I also agree that it is important to "take it to the edge", as she says. Without an element of danger, there is no real training. At the same time, I saw and experienced plenty of pain and fear in kendo class, so I don't hink this a koryu vs. gendai or kata vs. randori thing necessarily.

However, how truly dangerous must this element of danger be before someone considers it "authentic"? This is really the question (it may or may not even be a good question in the minds of some). Where the discussion broke down was Cady's statement that she practiced with real "killing intent". I don't think this can possibly be true, for the simple reason that, so far as I know, Cady and her training partners are all still alive. If there is real killing intent, someone will be killed, or, at least, severely injured. Contusions, bruises, cracked knuckles (all of which I got my share of in gendai kendo practice with the cops) don't count.

If you take it "to the edge", but then stop, this is itself proof that there was no real killing intent. Now, it may very well be that the technique, properly executed with a real weapon, would result in the death of the person on the recieving end. However, this has nothing to do with koryu or gendai. If I gave a good kendo man a real sword, and he hit me in the head with it kendo style, I think that it would propbably kill me too.

I think we all need to ask ourselves: when you go out on the floor, are you truly afraid for your life? Do you truly believe, deep down in the marrow of your bones, that one false move will mean your death? I think most of us would honestly have to answer no to that question. Fearing for your life is vastly different that wondering whether or not you're going to get a few bruises. Experience will tell you how much punishment you can take, and I think there is value in leaning how to "play through the pain" as they are always saying in professional football. But really, how many of you would put on the gloves and go up against Muhammad Ali in his prime? A few masochists or adrenaline junkies, maybe, but I think most of us would pass. I also think that most of us would pass if, during our regular training session, we were all of a sudden expected to go up unarmored against a guy with a bokken who we thought was really, truly, intending to kill us.

Now, if we accept the proposition that learning how to really fight in a life-and-death situation is the goal of training, the question is: how best to do this? Just because you really know that you're not going to get killed, does this mean necessarily that the training has no value for this purpose? Again, I think that the answer is no. Worrying about getting hurt, and seeing how this affects you, is good training, too, and a good teacher will know just how far he can go with his students, depending on their level. I also think that really rough training with the ever-present possibility of physical injury, is good training for this. However, it is the perceived THREAT of physical injury, not the injury itself, that is important here. A lot of training accidents can, sometimes, just point to sadism or lousy control, not combative authenticity. I think it is a mistake to believe, just because you get whacked around a lot, that you are training with real killing intent and that the number of training injuries somehow proves this. There is a fine line between understanding the value this has as training and believing that the number of training injuries proves your "killing intent".

Brently Keen
8th January 2001, 09:13
I too have been preoccupied over the holidays and haven't been around much. I hope everyone had great December and enjoys a Happy New Year filled with good health, happiness and great training. I have also followed this thread with varying amounts of interest, especially Dan and Toby's contributions.

I think I understood Cady's main point from the start to be related to the mindset with which one practices and performs their chosen koryu. In watching the videos of various koryu demonstrations, only Otake sensei exhibited something that resembled combative functionality and/or effectiveness.

All the koryu engage in kata training, but not all koryu practiced today are felt to be living, or capable of living up to the challenges of real combat in the battlefield (or even for self-defense). Since presumably this was the original intent and purpose of these arts, it begs the question: Why devote so many years of practice for either aquiring practical skills, and/or faithfully preserving those traditions if the most essential and vital original component of those systems is all but absent?

It seems that what Cady is admiring in Otake sensei and his students, or lamenting in the other koryu she saw demonstrated is a mindset that comes from what I call practicing the kata "as if" it were a shinken shobu.

Pardon me if I take a slight tangent here, but here's a few cents from my perspective:

IMO, it's not necessary to practice with "killing intent" or even so called "controlled aggression". Nor is it necessary to compete or engage in "free sparring" in order to induce stress and/or simulate a combative environment in order to train and develop effective skills and abilities that are useful for real situations (on the streets or on the battlefield).

I certainly don't mean that those are not beneficial or useful as effective methods. But what I do mean is that I don't believe they're necessary for producing the desired result of transmitting effective combative methods. I think that the various koryu kata were probably originally designed by and large as a more efficient method of training than those other, often more dangerous forms of training (and they just happened to be a good way to "preserve" the techniques too). Some folks may disagree, and I think that's why most different ryuha had their own various training philosophies and preferred methods of training. But in order for the kata method to work, or in order for kata training to effectively prepare a person for combat, the practitioner must practice the kata "as if" it's for real, as if they're preparing for combat.

I don't think it's absolutely necessary to practice with aggressive, realistic, hard attacks if one maintains this kind of mindset. That's not to say that it's not valuable to do so sometimes, but often we're limited by the skill and abilities of those who we're training with.

For example, I can practice with a beginner who doesn't even know how to attack properly, or a sempai who simply goes through the motions lazily and/or sloppily, and I'll still make progress perfecting my mindset and technique if I practice "as if" they were my arch-enemy, armed with a live blade, and skilled in the application of all sorts of secret techniques. If I train "as if" my opponent is a real master, capable of amazing, even superhuman feats, then I become more accutely aware of my openings, and that serious attention and awareness of every possibility sharpens my abilities as I practice the kata (even when my training partners cannot or do not induce sufficient stress or realism into our training).

Essentially, the koryu can only be mastered by practicing the "kata" with the headmaster directly, who ideally points out all your weaknesses until you've mastered the kata. As someone else noted before, this can be quite stressful! But some believe that it is not the headmaster's responsibility to point out your weaknesses, and correct your mistakes . The headmaster might only be obligated to preserve the forms and pass on the kata. Some feel the responsibility of the sensei is to merely to dispense the teachings of the ryu, and share the curriculum and training methods with the next generation. The responsibility of discovering and grasping the significance and applicability of those teachings remains with each individual student. Certainly, it's up to each student then, to determine their level of commitment to the ryu and show their respect to the sensei by how they practice all the kata/teachings they receive.

For those "dying" koryu perhaps there's hope that some will begin practicing their kata with renewed vigor, and "as if" their very lives depended on the skills and attributes they inherit from their practice of those forms. I'm in agreement with Cady though, that too many seem to lack this "element" in their demonstrations, and presumably then, in the practice of their arts. But like I think someone else said, it probably reflects more on the individuals representing those arts than on the ryuha themselves or their various kata.

Brently Keen

[Edited by Brently Keen on 01-08-2001 at 03:23 AM]

Tony Peters
9th January 2001, 05:45
There is a vast difference between a peace officer and a warrior/soldier. The Koryu arts were designed by warrior/soldiers as a way of training when they weren't fighting. Police officers (excluding those that are members of specail units (SWAT, Emergency Services, ETC.) are not really proven shooters they are people who have had to use their weapons to maintain their own life; not folks who are in the business of killing peolpe. The distinction is real, and the mindset is completely different though the training each does may be similar. Aquaintences of mine who have worked for SpecWarDevGru (what used to be called SEAL team 6) are not allowed to transfer back to the "regular SEAL teams because of this change in the "trained mind set". We have a saying which I'm sure many have heard "the more we sweat in peace the less we bleed in war" but war is not the same as patroling a beat in South Central. Yes people can die in both places but in battle the object is to kill as many people as possible until someone gives up, hopefully the other guy. Koryu arts that have been well maintained should (and probably do) carry this on. Demostrations of these arts may not show it, this is likely due to the desire to put of a good show rather than any loss in the teaching. Many of the demonstraions that I have seen my sensei do are much more lighthearted than he is in class. BTW I have gotten the same feeling shooting at the range with these guys as I do when training with people who are vastly superior to me in martial arts. Yes I can shoot a rifle almost as well in a controled situation but I know that I can't do it when the fit hits the shan. It really is spooky at times.

[Edited by Tony Peters on 01-08-2001 at 11:49 PM]

Earl Hartman
9th January 2001, 18:47
Another thing that came to mind and which I don't think has been discussed that much here is the ability of the observer to interpret and understand what he/she is seeing. As anyone who has even minimal experience knows, kata have many layers of meaning, and a lot of things are happening in the kata that are probably completely invisible to the observer unless he/she is well versed, not in "koryu" in general, but in the specific kata of the specific ryu that he/she is watching.

I think that anyone with some real MA experience under his/her obi will be able to sense the presence, or lack thereof, of what we can call, for want of a better term, real martial energy. However, I don't think that this necessarily equips the observer to completely understand the demonstrated kata from a technical point of view if he/she is not familiar with the ryu. The energy with which the kata is performed is quite important, of course, but it is not the same thing as the technical content.

Kit LeBlanc
9th January 2001, 20:25
TONY,

Coming from the LE pespective, actually I agree with you. The intensity and mindset of SWAT training is much different from that of patrol. The types of people that generally gravitate to SWAT are also indicative of the different mindset. Even then, its far different from Seal Team 6.


Earl,

I really like your comments. If only I were able to put things so succinctly.

Kit LeBlanc

Cady Goldfield
9th January 2001, 21:14
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
Another thing that came to mind and which I don't think has been discussed that much here is the ability of the observer to interpret and understand what he/she is seeing. As anyone who has even minimal experience knows, kata have many layers of meaning, and a lot of things are happening in the kata that are probably completely invisible to the observer unless he/she is well versed, not in "koryu" in general, but in the specific kata of the specific ryu that he/she is watching.

I have experienced that over the course of years of karate study and training. You start with the most rudimentary understanding of the kata's movements, but after a couple of decades you are deep into nuances. Some were intended "secrets" hidden in the kata, but others are your own invention and discovery as your own unique capabilities emerge.

cg

[Edited by Cady Goldfield on 01-09-2001 at 03:17 PM]

Earl Hartman
9th January 2001, 22:45
Kit:

Thanks for the undeserved compliment. What you have to say is always to the point as well.

Jack B
9th January 2001, 23:33
Originally posted by Earl Hartman
I think that anyone with some real MA experience under his/her obi will be able to sense the presence, or lack thereof, of what we can call, for want of a better term, real martial energy. However, I don't think that this necessarily equips the observer to completely understand the demonstrated kata from a technical point of view if he/she is not familiar with the ryu. The energy with which the kata is performed is quite important, of course, but it is not the same thing as the technical content.

Yes, there is a certain budo feeling, an intensity that you get from some special individuals in martial arts. It is a palpable sensation that they are very serious and menacing. It is not necessarily about killing. And it doesn't mean they are not friendly, jovial persons. They just have it, and it's what got a lot of us interested in MA in the first place.

Jack Bieler