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Thread: The Nine Ryu-ha of the Bujinkan - are they legitimate?

  1. #61
    Mekugi Guest

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    Originally posted by Alex Meehan
    There was a good thread with some interesting and constructive arguments on both sides on budoseek a few months ago. Click here to go to it.

    (This debate has been had again and again, however in the thread linked to above, there is very little sillyness, and it should help to explain the points of view of the varying vested interests in this debate.)

    Alex Meehan
    I would take that thread with a grain of salt.

    Always,

    -Russ

  2. #62
    Hissho Guest

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    Originally posted by JakobR
    "Completely reinvented" and then accepted as koryu? What koryu system might that be?
    You might be surprised.

    Isn't it Tanaka Fumon that re-invented Hoki ryu jujutsu based on the old densho?

    It hardly seems uncommon, at least in listening to the koryu practitioners I have known when critical of other teachers/groups. Behind closed doors, of course. That kinda thing is not aired in public.

    There is also a lot of reviving of old portions of ryu that stopped being practiced or died out. Now, from what I came to understand that is considered perfectly okay in koryu terms if done by a qualified instructor - but it does leave us with the fact that it is generally a person without combat experience, and almost certainly a person without combat experience actually using the traditional weapon/form, doing the reviving.

  3. #63
    Mekugi Guest

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    Originally posted by Hissho
    There is also a lot of reviving of old portions of ryu that stopped being practiced or died out. Now, from what I came to understand that is considered perfectly okay in koryu terms if done by a qualified instructor - but it does leave us with the fact that it is generally a person without combat experience, and almost certainly a person without combat experience actually using the traditional weapon/form, doing the reviving.
    What, should they hire Marines and Airborne to help them revive the kata? I knew of a prominent koryu practitioner who had plenty of combat experience....beheading prisoners of war, that is. I suppose he is qualified...ewww.

    Maybe I am totally missing something in this?

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    Russ,
    duely noted.

    Mr. Kuroda,
    I have certainly heard this but I do not think it represents a consensus opinion. Would you agree?
    a man who wears fur should never spit on a man who wears suede.

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    Originally posted by Hissho
    Isn't it Tanaka Fumon that re-invented Hoki ryu jujutsu based on the old densho?
    Actually, that would be Nakashima Atsumi.
    George Kohler

    Genbukan Kusakage dojo
    Dojo-cho

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    Originally posted by pete lohstroh
    Mr. Vlach,
    your response was not all that helpful. It's a fair question that I have heard many really interesting and informed answers to.
    Three pounds of flax!

    Go read some Zen. My answer was helpful.

    J. Vlach, Amsterdam

  7. #67
    Hissho Guest

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    Thanks, George, I was thinking about that and realized I mixed them up.



    Originally posted by Mekugi
    What, should they hire Marines and Airborne to help them revive the kata? I knew of a prominent koryu practitioner who had plenty of combat experience....beheading prisoners of war, that is. I suppose he is qualified...ewww.

    Maybe I am totally missing something in this?
    Russ-

    Yes, in a manner of speaking... if the idea is to continue the tradition with its originally intended purpose, and that is as a combat effective method.

    Somewhere around here someone recently posted that many people seek to practice a "legitimate" koryu mainly because then, at least, they can rest assured that what they are doing is combat tested and combat proven.

    There are a whole slew of reasons why this is simply not true, yet it does not discourage some from having as their primary goal in seeking out a traditional "battlefield" method the fact that it was used in combat and therefore is superior, at least in theory, to mere aesthetic budo or (EGAD!) combat sports. Just look at the views of many Daito-ryu people RE: aikido, and many classical JJ people RE: judo. They want to believe its older, nastier, more dangerous and ultimately far more effective because it was used in combat.


    My contention is that as the vast majority of martial artists are no longer combatants in any measure, if they want to believe that what they are doing is combat effective, or if they strive for combative realism in any kata they endeavor to recreate or revive, they would do better to seek the assistance of someone who has actually "seen the elephant," in addition to poring over old scrolls and listening to stories about a fight that happened 450 years ago.

    Simply put, there are many who may in fact be highly qualified instructors of whatever ryu that are handicapped in a sense because they have no practical experience. They might not even have the eyes to see where this or that movement or kata or whatever has strayed from the path of combative realism over however many generations, and is now a mere shadow of what it once was.

    Someone with experience - along with a thorough grounding in the ryu, what its intrinsic characteristics are, and with access to original densho and kuden, may in fact have a very different interpretation of what the combative application of this or that kata or move might represent, and may in fact be more correct in their assessment because they have done more than simply sweat in the training hall - they have bled, and caused others to bleed in real battle, and know what its like.

    For example, Col. George Bristol is Marine Recon AND a koryu practitioner. I would much rather listen to his point of view on the combative application of Shinkage-ryu than I would someone without that dual experience. I would also say that he probably would get far more out of certain teachings than someone with equal time in the ryu but without concomitant experience in harm's way.

    It means nothing to the preservation of the tradition, *if* the combat application no longer really matters (and in almost all cases it does not) and if that is not what people think they are getting.

    It also does not mean that the experienced man cannot learn from the elements of the tradition, even from a master teacher who has never been in a combat situation in their life.

    It does mean that, strictly in terms of combat application, the guy with experience will ultimately bring a deeper understanding to that aspect of the tradition by virtue of experience than anyone, no matter how much time is spent in the system, without comparable experience.


    BTW, cutting the heads off people who are already prisoners is not what I call combat. It can teach you a lot about what swords do to necks, I think, but as far as cutting them, it has as much relevance to combat as test cutting does.

    But I think we are hijacking the thread...

  8. #68
    everest Guest

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    pete,
    my experience was positive as i trained for about 6 years with jack hoban in new jersey.due to personal non training circumstances my once or twice a month trips to nj.became impossible.training partners drifted away ,finally ceasing training for 5 years until recently training in aikido at itten,and traveling to nj to train under meik and diane skoss in smr jo.we also have a jo study group at itten.

    i enjoyed the bujinkan training ...weapons etc. weapon training was most times using the kata of the various ryu learning the flow,distancing and timing.

    one thuing i noticec is a huge gap in bujinkan pracitioners.many people go to japan with previous MA training train maybe once a year there and mix previous knowledge into the bujinkan stuff.you end up with a hodge podge of !!!!. thats why so many bujinkan i feel are not respected.then on top of that they throw in some black masks ,and survival skills.

    not once did we don black masks,ninja tabi ,camo or do outdoor psuedo survival training.so many of the clowns out there ruin it for real practitioners.to mix things up would b like me adding tae kwon do kicks to my aikido or smr jo!

    i read the budoseek articles and their very good.with all the bad budo ninja crap out therei just wondered if the general non bujinkan practioners thought as little about the real system.thanks for input.

    scott altland
    itten dojo,mechanicsburg,pa.

  9. #69
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    Ask any legit Japanese koryu sensei about Hatsumi and he'll tell you what they've told me:

    Japanese:
    "Hatsumi-wa ninja-gokko o yatteiru."

    English:
    "Hatsumi is the guy who plays ninja."
    Dear Ren,
    I always respected your posts but this one doesn´t make sense to me. The use of "any" implies every koryu teacher in Japan thinks so, yet you go on saying that actually "he", one teacher told you that.
    I don´t think that this generalization depicts Hatsumi´s image in Japan. There sure are a lot of those like the one you stated, but also otherones who do respect Hatsumi for what he is/does. I felt that his reputation in Japan wasn´t that good but I always found that he is much more famous outside of Japan and some people in Japan base their opinion on very few "facts" they believe to know.
    This is of course only my personal opinion which is based on conversations with MA teachers and students in Japan (definetely not enough for a statistic analysis).

    Karsten
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    karsten helmholz
    bujinkan shinden dojo buchholz/hamburg

  10. #70
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    Let me qualify my statement: I do not know EVERY koryu sensei in Japan, so obviously I cannot speak for everyone. But the few I have spoken to, and who claim to/seem to represent the majority opinion, think in general the following:

    * Hatsumi is most famous for his role in entertainment. Similar reputation to Sonny Chiba, who runs the most famous stuntman school in Japan (anyone who dies in a ganster/martial arts movie in Japan probably graduated from Chiba's school.) He's organized ninja shows and ninja camps, etc. that look likes lots of fun.

    * The issue of whether ninjitsu is koryu or not is moot. Ninja were the special ops/CIA/black helicopters troops of the time. You don't walk around going "I'm a secret agent!" and you don't walk around going "I'm a ninja!"

    * The few ninja in Japan I do know in Japan realize they are 'playing at ninja' and in fact don't mind one bit. It's difficult to understand in a Western mindset, but there's nothing wrong with seriously pursuing at playing ninja. For some reason, in the US in particular, everyone seems so concerned with establishing the 'legitimacy' of their ninja art.
    Do you enjoy it? Does practicing it make you a better person? Fine then, leave it at that. But take the invented 'history' with a grain of salt. It serves a purpose; it's dramatic, it's compelling, it's romantic, and ninja popularity isn't going down (latest ninja anime Naruto is very popular, etc.)

    BUT, I seriously doubt you will find any legitimate koryu sensei who would consider Hatsumi as they would consider their own Soke.
    Hatsumi HAS done alot for martial arts; got alot of people off their butt and moving around and thinking and having fun and entertaining, and I think that's good -- net net it makes the world a better place. But that doesn't make it koryu. Same goes for kendo, tae-kwon-do, tate, sport-fishing.

    And now I'll stop, because the biggest issue with the 'ninja debate' is it's not a debate, it's religious. No matter what arguments either side makes, no one will ever convince me ninjijtsu is koryu, and I'll never convince a ninja that what they do isn't. So say I'm democratic and your republican, I'm pro-tobacco tax and you're anti, I'm privatized health care and you're nationalized...we can still be friends, eh?

    Regards,

    r e n

  11. #71
    Hissho Guest

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    Ren-

    Serious question, I am legitimately interested in the answer.

    If people are considered to be "playing" at ninja, are then koryu practitioners considered to be "playing" at being bushi?

    If not, why/how is it viewed differently?

    Are the folks that participate in the mock battle re-enactments in full period armor viewed differently than those who demonstrate something like Yagyu Shingan-ryu in full armor?

  12. #72
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    The problem I think is with the English word 'play'.

    Professional athletes play baseball. That's certainly a more serious engagement than when a bunch of kids play baseball in the park on Sunday.

    I guess we could use the word 'do', but it doesn't really sound right. In Japanese the term I've heard over and over again is 'ninja-gokko', and I translate that as 'playing at ninja' or 'playing ninja'.

    For the record, I do not play at being a samurai: 'samurai-gokko', I study a koryu art: 'koryu-o keiko suru'. the Japanese term 'keiko' is translated as study/dedicated pursuit.

    So again I think it's both an issue w/the English language and the 'Western mindset' (to make an overly broad and sweeping generalization) -- koryu folks in Japan have no problem with the ninja folks, and in general neither aspires to the other. Another fine example of conceptual harmonious juxtaposition that seems possible only in Japanese society.

    Regards,

    r e n

  13. #73
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    As I was eating my bento in my cubicle yesterday, a co-worker stopped and said "What's that?"

    "My lunch", I said.

    "What's in it?"

    "Well, let's see...steamed rice, breaded and deep fried freeze-dried tofu, cucumber with miso, brolied salmon, burdock root with carrots, and deep-fried tofu pockets simmered with green onions."

    "How cute!"

    What has this got to do with budo? For me, this is what I eat pretty much every day. It's food. To her (she had, needless to say, never heard of gobo (burdock root), Koya-doufu (freeze dried tofu), or abura-age (deep fried tofu pockets), it was not really food, in a way, it was "cute".

    For people who don't know or care about budo and see it as exotic, whatever we do (especially if we wear armor and stuff) will be "cute", like a re-enactment of the jousts and what-not put on at the Renaissance Pleasure Faires.

    For people who actually do it, it is not "cute". It's what we eat for lunch every day.

    I still think that the koryu.com definition of koryu is still the best we've got: a legitimate koryu is a living tradition of fighting techinques and associated practices that orignated in a certain period of history, has a documented and provable lineage, and has been continuously practiced since that time.

    No one doubts that ninja existed and pacticed a body of techniques that we refer to today as ninjutsu. The main bone of contention is that the lineage is not proven and documented. The result is there is a strong possibility that the techniques are either created out of whole cloth (worst case) or reinvented based on whatever historical documents might be available (best case).

    Of course, even the most distinguished koryu with the most impeccable pedigree will still be greeted with skepticism by people who don't know or care, and will be seen as being the same thing as "ninja-gokko" ("Yeah, I know it's an old and venerable Japanese tradition, but so what?"). This is an argument that will never be solved.
    Last edited by Earl Hartman; 16th April 2004 at 00:49.
    Earl Hartman

  14. #74
    Hissho Guest

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    There still seems to be a clear differentiation with what Hatsumi is doing compared to what people who are koryu practitioners are doing - evidenced in the comment by the teacher you noted.

    Your own statement also clearly differentiates your own training (keiko) in a koryu from "playing at samurai." Would I be correct in surmising that other serious koryu practitioners in Japan would make the same distinction?

    So....if the teachers are making the distinction, and practitioners are making the distinction, it seems clearly more than a problem in translation to the English language and the Western mind.

    Note I don't know that you are saying that the Japanese view it condescendingly as compared to "legit" koryu, though your original post comes across as if they do, the way I read it.

    Thanks

  15. #75
    Hissho Guest

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    Thanks, Earl, I think that made it a little more clear.

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