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Thread: Brainteaser for you Sword people

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    Is anyone looking for a challenge?

    The MU YEI TO BO TONG JI (“COMPREHENSIVE ILLUSTRATED MANUAL OF MARTIAL ARTS”) was written by Lee in the 1790-s by order of Jungjo, the Korean King. It is a compendium of many (over 200 treatises, books and works) sources dating back as far as 1595. I raise this bit of trivia in that Book 2, section 3 of this work is entitled WAE GUEM (“JAPANESE SWORD”). Originally I had thought this material was Korean/Chinese in origin with the intent of formulating responses to Japanese sword techniques. Introductory notes to the chapter, however, indicate that “ During the period of King Sukjong,(1674-1720)…. (Kim, Che-gun)… traveled to Japan with the Korean government delegation and acquired a sword manual. When he mastered it, the king called him in and tested his skills….. In the sword manual there were four styles: toyu ryu, woonkwang ryu, chunryu ryu and ryupee ryu. The style of Ui Kyung was called shindo ryu and Shinkangs’ shinum ryu. Kim Che-gum transmitted all of the systems but currently only woonkwang ryu is practiced. What he developed based on what he had learned was called kyo jun bo. …..The Japanese are the best in sword patterns, thus their patterns are used in the illustrations.”

    So sometime between 1674 and 1720 a delegation goes to Japan and brings back the material presented in the MU YEI… the obvious question is any of this familiar to any of the current practitioners of Japanese arts? Looking at the first Form (TOYU RYU) I think I see vestiges of Katori Shinto Ryu as presented in DEITY AND THE SWORD. Does anyone want to venture a guess at what other styles might have been available to a Korean delegation in writing in that time frame?

    Best Wishes,

    Bruce W Sims
    http://www.midwesthapkido.com
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

  2. #2
    MarkF Guest

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    This isn't a guess, but I would call it a possible reason for this.

    Since many Asian and Asian/Pacific fighting styles, including the sword are/were similar, it would seem that many JMA are just possibly not so exclusive, especially in the time frame given. At what time was Japan strictly Japanese and Korea strictly Korean, etc., etc.?

    I think this is a practical way of looking at fighting schools of the past and those of the relative present. After one mixing with another, even that of another era and country, when said and done, none are exclusive, and where today it is even easier to learn a style of a country outside of Japan, there seems to be a history of this within one stated country and without same.

    Sorry. Huge thread drift after just one post, but hasn't this almost always been the case?

    Mark


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    The *Muye tobo dongji* (Jpn. *Bugei tofu tsûshi*, 1790) is not unknown among scholars of Japanese martial art history. Tominaga Kengo devotes 4 pages of small print (pp. 159--162) of his *Kendo gohyakunen shi* (Five Hundred Year History of Japanese Swordsmanship, 1972) to a discussion of this work. Tominaga gives the table of contents, notes its chief characteristics, and reproduces passages concerning Japanese swordsmanship. He also provides a black-white photograph of a wood-block edition of the text.

    Tominaga notes that most of the proper names that appear in the text are written with what Japanese call "ateji" (i.e., Chinese glyphs that have the similar sounds) instead of the standard glyphs normally used. For example, of the four styles mentioned above by Bruce Sims, the second one "Umgwang yu" (Jpn. Unkôryû) is written in the *Muye tobo dongji* with Chinese glyphs meaning "transport" and "shinning." The Unkôryû is a well-known style of swordsmanship that is normally written with glyphs meaning "cloud" (Kor. un) and "spreading" (Kor. hung). Although the glyphs for "shinning" and "spreading" are pronounced differently in Korean (kwang & hung), in Japanese they are pronounced the same (kô). These kinds of misspellings were common among semi-literate Japanese, especially rural warriors and peasants, in that age.

    One passage from the *Muye tobo dongji* quoted by Tominaga gives a brief outline of the history of Japanese swordsmanship. It says that Minamoto Yoshitsune (1159--1189) is the person who reinvigorated Japanese fencing and that the teaching lineages based on his style are known as the Shintoryu. Next it cites the Chinese martial art text *Wubeizhi* (Jpn. Bubishi, 1561) and mentions Aisu Ikôsai Hisatada (1452--1538) as the founder of the Kageryu and Kôizumi (a.k.a. Kamiizumi) Nobutsuna (1508?--1577) as the person who revised it as the Shinkageryu (New Kageryu). According to the *Muye tobo dongji*, all styles of Japanese swordsmanship derive either from the Shintoryu of Yoshitsune or the Shinkageryu of Nobutsuna.

    In spite of its numerous errors, the *Muye tobo dongji* obviously is a fascinating text that deserves to be carefully studied. Tominaga owned a wood-block edition of the text ---- a type of resource that cannot be ordered through inter-library loan services. It would be great to learn of a modern version that is available though local libraries.

    Is this text available in a modern reprinted edition? Can Bruce Sims (or anyone else) please provide a full bibliographic citation?

    Thanks,
    William Bodiford
    Professor
    Dept. of Asian Languages & Cultures
    UCLA

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    Dear Mr. Bodiford:

    Please accept my most profound thanks for your contribution this is the kind of information which is of invaluable help in my research.

    The MY YEI.. has been my constant companion since I recieved it from TURTLE PRESS in September. This particular translation into English is by Sang H Kim for Turtle Press of Wethersfield, Ct 06129-0206 (Ph#1-880-778-8785). ISBN for the HC is 1-880336-53-7 while the SC is 1-880336-48-0.

    May I take a moment and impose on you further? I noted your signature block regarding Eastern Studies and wonder if you might suggest further resources for pursuing this comparative study of the Japanese and Korean Martial traditions? By way of extension I wouls also be interested to hear your recommendations for securing publications from Korean and Japanese sources which are not available to me here in the US through BOOKS IN PRINT. Your indulgence would be sincerely appreciated.

    Best Wishes,
    Bruce W Sims
    http://www.midwesthapkido.com
    Bruce W Sims
    www.midwesthapkido.com

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