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Thread: Q&A: Araki-ryu, Buko-ryu

  1. #31
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    I keep asking for it for my birthday but haven't gotten it yet. I keep pestering them for it and "Old Skool" though.

    As for "koryu enthusiasts seem to feel there is a koryu difference, an extra-special something that is a cut above," depends who you talk to, why they say it, what they mean by it, and who cares anyway.
    I'm quite satisfied with this answer!
    We are the Sherlock Holmes English Speaking Vernacular. Help save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula.

  2. #32
    Shin Buke Guest

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    I know how you feel. My leisure purchases are oft limited by my "poor student" status so I normally have to rely on birthdays or Christmases to obtain those few, precious tomes of knowledge and information.

    When you do finally get "Old School" you will most certainly enjoy it. I couldn't pull myself away from it when I got it. I'd read a section, pause, then say to myself, "Ah, just one more!" Soon "just one more" became the whole book. ^_~

  3. #33
    coyote Guest

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    Hello Mr. Amdur. You said that you've been practicing Hsing-i. I wonder what led you to resume this practice - if I'm remember well you used to practice it in the past - and how it fits into your Araki-ryu training if it does. I would also like to know your views about how different are the Chinese martial arts when compared to koryu in terms of teaching methodology and "personality" of the art for the lack of a better term.

  4. #34
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    Default To Carlos L

    I don't really even think about how one training I do contributes to my Araki-ryu or Buko-ryu unless I notice that it conflicts. Otherwise, it's just another thing I like to do. I like xingyi because it trains in explosive use of power, and as a middle-aged man, I want a training method that contributes to my health. And finally, I don't have to depend on anyone else - I just go out under my trees and practice whenever I like.

    In my limited experience, the Chinese martial arts I've studied have far more of an emphasis on self-cultivation. Koryu, in their original form, were activist/political entities. I'm well aware of boxing organizations in China that were associated with various revolutionary groups, but, by-and-large, the systems I've encountered cultivated individual power and facility rather than using training to create a political entity. Koryu did not, for the most part, train for long life - again, I'm aware of healing systems associated with some ryu, but the training itself emphasized "RIGHT NOW" as opposed to the meticulous break-down of reflexes and neuromuscular organization you find in Chinese arts.

    As for "personality," although this may hearken back to the infamous MJER debates - something I so do not wish to do - koryu are training methods of the now extinct Japanese warrior class - and certain psychological nuances accompany this, whereas xingyi, in particular, was a training method of civilians - ordinary citizens. The closest to "war" was that some top xingyi and bagua practitioners seemed to have originally specialized as caravan guards - the manuveuring training really assisting in melee fighting against bandits with hand-held weapons. (NOTE: I'm aware of the claims of some that xingyi was derived from spear training, but the best info I've ever seen suggests that it is a derivation of a single famiy art called xinyi - "the three fists" method of the Dai clan - see articles at http://www.chinafrominside.com/ma/xyxy.html).

    I would have continued xingyi through my training in Japan, but my teacher, brilliant though he was, had an unfortunate tendancy to disappear for months, or come to class drunk. I'd get ticked off and quit for a few years, and then return. Over a 13 year period, I got about 2 years total of training. I've always regretted not having put in the mileage in this art - and that's really what it requires - miles and miles of repetition of forms. I started again a few years ago simply because the opportunity was there - another person who'd trained under the same teacher as my first (Hung I Shiang) moved to my area - he was a good friend - so I jumped back in.

    Best

  5. #35
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    he was a good friend - so I jumped back in.
    Sometimes it's the people you get to train with isn't it?
    Doug Walker
    Completely cut off both heads,
    Let a single sword stand against the cold sky!

  6. #36
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    Default Psychological/Mental training

    Mr. Amdur,

    When reading your books and articles and the writings of the Skoss' and Mr. Lowry, there is an aspect of koryu that is hinted at, alluded to and mentioned in passing. This aspect is one that fascinates me, perhaps because it seems shrouded in mystery. It is the mental training and psychological aspects that are woven into the fabric of a ryu.

    How does a political organization like a ryu take a young man and not only teach him some martial skill in a relatively short period of time, but also prepare him mentally for the challeges of military life in fuedal Japan and the prospect of NEEDING
    Respectfully,
    J.C. Murphy

  7. #37
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    Default broken thread, could not edit

    (Sorry)

    NEEDING to be combat effective in a very chaotic environment. Certainly growing up into a military family would help w/ the proper mindset, but the ryu is also supposed to help with the development of the individual to be effective in this situation.

    My feeling is that a martial artist should do anything possible to ensure that they are able to use their hard earned skills if necessary and there are many stories of very qualified people who are unable/unwilling to use their abilities when needed. Is there a way to blend the mental/psychological training of koryu into a more modern, even a non-Japanese, art.

    I think that many of us have heard things like, "Observe your opponentw/o looking at him," or "Do not become emotionally involved w/ your adversary." Are there sources in English that one can go to that would assist in the type of training that I am thinking of? I have heard people talk about Nuero-Linguistic Programing but do not know anything about it. Can you recommend any supplement to a martial art that would help in this area?

    Thank you,
    Respectfully,
    J.C. Murphy

  8. #38
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    Hi Ellis,
    In your book "Dueling with O-Sensei" you mention an admonition made by Hung I Hsiang: "Be careful with whom you choose to study. You will become who they are, and if you haven't chosen wisely, you'll suffer and other people will, too".
    I think that a lot of people can tell the benefits that they acquire from their martial arts study, but few can tell the drawbacks. I wonder if you could elaborate this topic a little bit more and give us some hints to realize when something wrong is going on, since it's not very easy to be objective about ourselves when we're part of the process.

    Thanks


    reinaldo yamauchi

  9. #39
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    Default To J.C. Murphy

    This is really the subject of an essay - or even a book - which others are far more qualified to write than me. But as far as I understand it -
    1) The instructor takes ukemi - among other effects, this allows the instructor to gauge the psychological strength and organization of the student, to put them in situations of relatively high stress.
    2) Also, the instructor thereby embodies self-sacrifice - the students preceive that the instructor puts himself at risk for the sake of the student's learning. This models proper behavior and engenders loyalty in the student
    3) Group solidarity - studies have shown that on the battlefield one fights in difficult circumstances so as not to be shamed in the eyes on one's comrades. The most important thing is the loyalty towards one's brothers-at-war, and that one is not found lacking. The ryu has lots of ways of engendering that loyalty.

    In short, the ryu are analogous to basic training, but the requirements of warfare in that period were different enough that the bushi/ruling class needed to be trained differently than soldiers (NOTE: I've read that ashigaru were trained in groups, in unison). One's teacher was one's drill sergeant.


    AS for things like neuro-linguistic programing, in my opinion, such things are subsidiary - like meditation to calm one's mind. One may choose to do various methods of self-hypnosis or religious training to try to steel oneself on an individual basis, but the most effective way of training hasn't really changed. Methods of intense practice, repetitively done, under the leadership of forceful men who leave the soldier with the mindset that the only way to go is under the direction of one's leaders, in company with one's comrades. Depending on the cultural set, the type of warfare, etc., the particulars of training may be different, but be it close-order drill or kata, I believe that's what's going on.


    Best

    Ellis Amdur

  10. #40
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    Default To R. Yamauchi

    Tough question. I think it comes down to this - does one's association with that instructor lead one to compromise one's values or integrity? And this is a question that can only be answered if one HAS a personal code of ethics. Because if one doesn't, one doesn't have the ground to evaluate whether the instructor is causing damage.

    Best

  11. #41
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    Post Koryu and politics

    Originally posted by Ellis Amdur



    {snip} but the most effective way of training hasn't really changed. Methods of intense practice, repetitively done, under the leadership of forceful men who leave the soldier with the mindset that the only way to go is under the direction of one's leaders, in company with one's comrades.
    Ellis,

    I was reflecting on the above comment and Toby’s recent post on Aikido Journal about Koryu and started to wonder how politics play into studying two koryu. Toby’s article [http://www.aikidojournal.com/?id=234] presents high standards in selecting potential students and absolute loyalty to the ryu upon joining. How is studying two koryu viewed in light of these high standards? If you are supposed to have such strong loyalty to one ryu how do you navigate two? Is there jealousy involved? I know there is immense physiological difficulty in keeping the two ryu separate, is it the same politically? Does it matter?

    Thanks,
    Stephen Kotev

  12. #42
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    Default To Stephen K.

    I think one has to make a real distinction between several "thens" and now. In Sengoku and probably early Edo-period, one would probably only be a member of one ryu (combative that is - one might also study bajutsu - horseriding; suijutsu - swimming, etc.). As the schools were supposed to be comprehensive, there was not a need to study several complete systems. However, during musha-shugyo (travelling around and training), aside from challenge matches, one far more frequently stayed for periods of time studying with this teacher or that. Itto-ryu practitioner, Suzuki Yoshio, might have been later described as studying under Mori Masayuki of Shinkage-ryu, receiving a menkyo. In reality, the latter study was like a graduate finishing course - perhaps two, three, six months, in which one expert swordsman taught another the essential principles of the former's school - not the entire curriculum.

    One shouldn't think of the ryu as an absolutely independent political entity (I've previously written around ryu as being like the Moro Liberation Front, etc., but this was, in retrospect, somewhat hyperbolic - they were political entities lending support to larger political systems).
    At any rate, as the Edo period progressed, this type of study continued for some warriors, but more commonly, warriors might study several ryu associated with the han they were attached. For example, a Sakura-han warrior might study both Tatsumi-ryu kenjutsu, and Araki-ryu jujutsu, as well as an archery or gunnery school. Most warriors did not study, for example, several kenjutsu schools.
    Nowadays, ryu are far less socially important, less powerful, and the training is, for most, less intense. It is far less important in most practitioners' lives. Most Japanese practitioners still only practice one ryu. Training two or more schools would be looked askance, and the politics would arise due to the person's poor performance in one or the other, or contamination of one ryu's techniques into the other. If a person could bring it off - politics might still arise if the person seemed to favor one over the other, - for example, not going to one ryu's get-together, party, or demonstration because they were participating in a function of the other.

    I've only successfully taught one individual, Steve Bowman, both of the ryu that I practice. However, his difficulties have been mostly technical rather than political, because he has been able to manifest loyalty to his teacher in both ryu - me. I can imagine teaching a person who already is high-level/menkyo in another system - probably like the old days, one essential portion of the ryu to "finish" off what he already knows. I can imagine a student of mine who is menkyo level studying another system. But I cannot imagine accepting a student who is in the process of learning another system from someone else. As attenuated a role as the ryu have, compared to the past, I would find the student's divided personal and organizational loyalties got in the way of really teaching what the ryu had to offer.

    Best

    Ellis Amdur

  13. #43
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    Default Re: To Stephen K.

    Originally posted by Ellis Amdur
    However, during musha-shugyo (travelling around and training), aside from challenge matches, one far more frequently stayed for periods of time studying with this teacher or that. Itto-ryu practitioner, Suzuki Yoshio, might have been later described as studying under Mori Masayuki of Shinkage-ryu, receiving a menkyo. In reality, the latter study was like a graduate finishing course - perhaps two, three, six months, in which one expert swordsman taught another the essential principles of the former's school - not the entire curriculum.
    Ellis,

    Thanks for the reply. So it seems that “graduate finishing courses” were not uncommon. If you don’t mind me asking how did starting a second koryu work for you? I have read both of your books but I don’t seem to recall this information. Did you consider your study of Toda-ha Buko Ryu some sort of “graduate finishing course” to Araki-ryu? I don’t think that is the case, as you can tell I am guessing here. How did your gaijin status play into all of it? I know that joining koryu is likened to family, and not showing up to family events is frowned upon, as illustrated in the example given. Did that ever happened to you? Or did your menkyo status with Araki-ryu free you up for Toda-ha Buko Ryu?

    Thanks again for all of the answers. I am looking forward to training with you in Northern Virginia next month.

    Regards,
    Stephen Kotev

  14. #44
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    Default To Stephen K. II

    I was not menkyo in Araki-ryu, I was a beginner. What I learned of that is why I don't recommend others train that way.

    My gaijin "status" was irrelevent, as far as the two teachers in question were concerned. I did the best I could to keep the two ryu absolutely separate - but stories about it are not really very interesting. Just mundane juggling of schedules.

    Best

    Ellis Amdur

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