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Thread: Inaba Sensei and Kashima shin ryu

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    Some dojo in Europe train the KSR Kenjutsu of Inaba sensei (Kyoto). Most of the dojoleaders was Aikido-students of him and learned swordmanship on this way.
    Who knows the real connections between Inaba sensei and the Kashima "headquarter"?
    There are different opinions here - some people say, Inaba sensei teaches only a kind of Kenjutsu influenced by the KSR; some people say, he teaches the true, old technics; some people call his style the Inaba ha Kashima shin ryu...
    I donīt know if he teaches all KSR traditions or only Kenjutsu (maybe, also Battojutsu?) as a part of his Aikido-training.
    Do you have some informations?

    regards
    Ulf Lehmann

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    Originally posted by Ulf Lehmann
    Some dojo in Europe train the KSR Kenjutsu of Inaba sensei (Kyoto). Most of the dojoleaders was Aikido-students of him and learned swordmanship on this way.
    Who knows the real connections between Inaba sensei and the Kashima "headquarter"?
    There are different opinions here - some people say, Inaba sensei teaches only a kind of Kenjutsu influenced by the KSR; some people say, he teaches the true, old technics; some people call his style the Inaba ha Kashima shin ryu...
    I donīt know if he teaches all KSR traditions or only Kenjutsu (maybe, also Battojutsu?) as a part of his Aikido-training.
    Do you have some informations?
    This is not really an issue that reduces to opinion; the facts could not be clearer. There are currently only two places in Europe (one group in Helsinki and one in Frankfurt) where KSR is taught under authorization by the current (or past) KSR headmasters.

    The swordwork taught at various Aikido schools in England and France that Ulf refers to derives from Kashima-Shinryu, via Inaba Minoru, the head Aikido instructor at the Meiji Grand Shrine in Tokyo. It is NOT, however, Kashima-Shinryu--in either a formal or a practical sense.

    Inaba has worked a bit of Kashima-Shinryu kenjutsu and some other weapon training into his aikido curriculum at the Meiji Grand Shrine. Neither he nor his teacher, Tanaka Shigeo, however, has any formal connections with the current Kashima-Shinryu soke or shihanke, and neither has any Kashima-Shinryu license or credentials from either Kunii Zen'ya (the previous soke/shihanke) or Seki Humitake (the current shihanke).

    The Inaba connection with KSR began when Tanaka wished to learn Kashima Shinryu from Kunii, because he was teaching Aikido at the University of Tokyo, and his students were becoming discouraged by their inability to hold their own in friendly matches with the karate club students, who practiced at the same time. Determining that what his students needed was some weapons training, he went to Kunii to learn kenjutsu. But, as he was already 40 at the time, he found he was not learning well, and so he brought one of his senior students, Inaba, at the time an undergraduate university student, to study with Kunii as well.

    Inaba studied KSR for less than a year, and never received any diploma from Kunii Zen'ya, from Seki, or from the Kashima-Shinryu Federation of Martial Sciences. Sometime after Kunii's death in 1966, however, one of Inaba's supervisors asked Kunii Zen'ya's widow for permission for him to teach Kashima-Shinryu to the shrine attendants, arguing that Shinto authorities did not recognize Aikido as proper martial training for shrine attendants, because it lacks any form of *harai* (exorcism). Under the circumstances, it was determined that this request could not be refused.

    Nevertheless, because his period of training was far too short to learn and understand the arcana of Kashima-Shinryu, the permission granted Inaba extends only to the teaching of fundamental kenjutsu techniques (but NOT other weapons; he had never actually trained at any KSR weapons other than the sword), at the dojo of the Meiji Grand Shrine. He has no authority to issue Kashima-Shinryu diplomas, nor does he have any right to use the name Kashima-Shinryu or to allow any of his students to use it.

    Thus Inaba's formal status within Kashima-Shinryu is that of teaching basic sword techniques within the framework of Aikido instruction at the Meiji Grand Shrine dojo. His students and the students of his students have no formal relationship whatsoever to KSR.

    Perhaps even more importantly, what Mr. Inaba practices is not KSR in any practical sense, either. This is an issue that goes way beyond any possible objections that statements about formal legitimacy may involve hair-splitting or bias, or that they may be irrelevant to students who simply want "to learn the art."

    Aikido and Kashima-Shinryu have elements in common, but they are really fundamentally different in strategy, philosophy and patterns of movement. (A rough analogy might be the differences and similarities between Islam and Christianity.)

    If one tries to teach Aikido and KSR techniques at the same time one will NOT (cannot) perform the KSR techniques correctly (in so far as "correctness" is defined by members of KSR). The sword techniques and kata taught might share some similarities to KSR, but the key elements (i.e., the very elements that give KSR its unique identity) will either be corrupted or missing altogether. At that point, they no longer are KSR techniques.

    This is emphatically the case with the kenjutsu kata that Mr. Inaba and his students practice. Inaba's interpretation of KSR kata is heavily flavored by Aikido and thoroughly reshaped by minimal initial exposure to the real thing compounded by 3 decades of practicing in isolation. Many of the kata are unrecognizable to students of orthodox Kashima-Shinryu; most of the basic patterns and rhythms of movement and application of power are.

    One easy way to see this is to compare the movements and form of Mr. Inaba and his students with that of Kunii Zen'ya and his students in the 1960s, and with that of Seki Humitake and his students today (footage of Kunii, Seki and their students can be seen in the 11 volume video series produced a couple of years back by Gaisei International, in Japan; still photos, taken from the video series, can be seen in the May 1999 issue of *Hiden* magazine).

    The differences between the postures and application of energy of Inaba (and his students) today and those of Kunii Zen'ya are also strikingly clear in the photographs that appear in the recent *Aiki News* articles (issue #s 123 & 124) on Inaba; the photo of Inaba performing kesa-giri in 1967 looks pretty much like what a student of KSR today with a year or so's training would look like; the photos of Inaba and his students from the 1970s and later look VERY different, and very much like Aikido.

    In sum, it behooves no one, least of all Mr. Inaba and his students, to label the kenjutsu they practice as "Kashima-Shinryu." What it is in fact, is a style of sword work *derived from* KSR. Inaba has found his own path in Aikido and his own insights about swordsmanship. His kenjutsu deserves to be seen and evaluated in that light, and in terms of its contribution to Aikido, and not confused by its remote origins in a fundamentally different art, learned from a teacher (Kunii Zen'ya) who was publicly contemptuous of Aikido.



    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    Karl:
    Sounds like what is happening with TSKSR in this country. At least you don't have people claiming to have studied at a secret family school in a secret location in Japan, like we did in Sekiguichi Ryu. Imagine Yamada Sensei's(batto Jutsu) and Sekiguichi Sensei's(Jujutsu) surprise when my son broke the news to them <grin>.

    Since you wrote, I have a question? Is there more than one style of Kashima Ryu in this country. I saw a demo that raised more than a few questions in my mind.

    Carl McClafferty

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    Originally posted by carl mcclafferty
    Is there more than one style of Kashima Ryu in this country. I saw a demo that raised more than a few questions in my mind.
    There is no ryuha (at least none still extant) that calls itself the "Kashima Ryu," although there are several that use "Kashima" in their names, including the Kashima-Shinryu, the Kashima Shinto-ryu, and the Kashima Shinden Jikishin Kageryu. I don't know of any place outside of Japan where either of the latter two are taught. Kashima-Shinryu is taught through four authorized branch schools in the US and two in Europe. There are also a couple of Aikido schools in the US and Canada that teach Inaba's KSR-inspired sword techniques.

    Do you remember where you saw the demonstration or who was doing it?
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    Karl, thank you for the informations. I think, the most teachers in Europe donīt know this details. Most of them was students of french teachers who learned Kenjutsu from Inaba Minoru in Japan.
    So I know, there are no Kenjutsu-certificates or examinations in this dojo. Kenjutsu is mostly a secondary part of the training.

    BTW - is the Kenjutsu of Inaba a practical art of swordmanship or it works only inside the own system.
    I believe, some swordsman feeling very good in the dojo, but they have no practical experience outside with other people or Ryu (How can I test my sword-practice in modern times?). If you train a 400-years old system, you can be sure - your school was survived because it works! The same with the Kenjutsu of Inaba?

    regards
    Ulf Lehmann

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    Karl:
    It was at Bob Elder's Taikai in Orlando. Tony Alvarez did kata in competition that I didn't recognize. I asked him what it was and all he said was "Kashima Ryu".(?) I got the impression from his look that I should recognize it. But guess I was having a "senior moment", I didn't think it was Kashima Shinryu.
    Carl McClafferty


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    Question re: Inabas Kenjutsu

    Hello all,

    just to join this damn interesting thread here and concerning Ulfs last question: I donīt think that it is for the better of any koryu system to be teared apart and taught as altered and isolated forms, especially if the teacher hasnīt the complete transmission of the essence of the techniques at all. I have to admit that I never saw Inaba or his Kenjutsu, but I think the tradition of the Kashima Shin Ryu had very good reason to teach and use their Kenjutsu in exactly the way it is done within the Ryu. I believe itīs like Meik Skoss (think so) wrote once "Thereīs only one proper way to deal with Koryu: donīt mess with it". This just to join, hope there will be more interesting stuff like this.
    Happy new Year to everyone.

    ... shiki soku ze ku, ku soku ze shiki ...

    [Edited by nicki gerstner on 12-31-2000 at 01:36 PM]

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    Carl
    You had mentioned that the TSKSR is experiencing the same problem as the KSR in this country. To my knowledge the only “two” people openly teaching TSKSR and grading people in the art were an Aikido teacher and one of his students. Both of these men were openly invited to NOT show up any more by Otake sensei. This information has been made public. No other people are legitimately or illegitimately representing TSKSR that I know of.
    One Japanese fellow that I heard about was stationed here by his company for a few years and then left. He left behind some students who have continued to practice, although they do NOT claim they are representing the school. Another fellow I know of, who trained in depth with another displaced student, openly states that although he trained extensively he does not represent the art in any manner shape or form either. Since neither of these people are being fraudulent by claiming a pure line, or trying to combine their training with Aikido (of all things) I fail to see the comparison.
    It would appear that the men involved here in the states have a clear understanding of the limits of their education and would never infringe on the legitimate schools domain.

    Dan

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    Dan Harden Guest

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    Ulf writes
    BTW - is the Kenjutsu of Inaba a practical art of swordmanship or it works only inside the own system.
    I believe, some swordsman feeling very good in the dojo, but they have no practical experience outside with other people or Ryu (How can I test my sword-practice in modern times?). If you train a 400-years old system, you can be sure - your school was survived because it works!
    *************************

    I do not think this is true in any manner or form. No one truly knows what the old techniques looked like. Can we trust scroll interpretation as the final say? How many times was a given art passed into the hands of a mediocre artist?
    Further, there were men alive then, just as well as now, who could come at you out of the blue with something very effective and exacting, that could take its toll among weaponsmen, either individually or in battlfield strategy. Many of whom may have existed outside of established schools. All of this stuff that we like to talk about and pursue was made up at one point or another either by someone or some group. Unfortunately many of us believe the myth that it is *all* somehow martially relevant. Do you really think it is all tried and tested and passed on in purity from mountain tengu and or “God” dream inspired? I don't. I am sure that a few "harry the barber" or "Jimmy the castle foot soldier" types with some training made up their own arts then as now.

    The truth of weapons was not held exclusively by Japanese at any time or in any age. There has been untold genius exhibited in warriors and civilians throughout history. And these can occur “outside” of mainstream schools. As for the men involved, I would imagine that some were known, some not. Add to this the lack of any recent realistic influx of intregal, practical, martial experience and you are far and away form any sure bet on a given school.
    The evidence of what I am postulating is before our very eyes. It can be witnessed in any number of exponents in a given art. Some are very good, some are walking through the motions. That is why the teacher, their ability, AS WELL as their ability to "teach" what they know, are just as important, perhaps even more so, then the art itself.

    People have attempted to pass on hundreds of years of technique through the imperfect medium that is....US!
    Has it all been meticulously handed down through grade school teachers, factory workers and accountants who have inherited systems (not always to their liking I would bet) and may or may not influenced their own arts with more modern Do arts? Are they ALL martial masters, able to express valid decisive techniques with martial ador?
    I wouldn’t bet on it. And impressing potential students unfamiliar with archaic weaponse doesn't count for much does it?
    As for any one else in the modern era being able to come up with better techniques, or modifying old techniques to be currently relevant, you probably have just as good a bet.
    When its all said and done, age, era of origination, pedigree, and rank are as ephemeral as ever, and thus hold no promise of martial integrity.

    In closing, effectivenss and martial integrity have no bearing on the authenticity of any ryu either Gendai or Koryu.
    We may not like what we see, or we may love it. But it is what it is, and it isn't ours, it's their's to do with as they please.

    Dan


    [Edited by Dan Harden on 12-31-2000 at 04:52 PM]

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    Exclamation

    Originally posted by Ulf Lehmann
    Karl, thank you for the informations. I think, the most teachers in Europe donīt know this details. Most of them was students of french teachers who learned Kenjutsu from Inaba Minoru in Japan.
    Actually, things are a little more complicated than that. Over the years I and some of the other foreign teachers of KSR have had contact with several of the Inaba Aikido groups outside Japan and have apprised them of Inaba's background. Some have been very quick to agree that "Kashima-Shinryu" is an inappropriate label for what they're doing and have changed their advertising accordingly. Others have adopted the position that, since Inaba says it's ok to call it KSR, it's ok to call it KSR. That, of course strikes us as a little weird. I doubt, for example, that they'd be very happy about my telling my students that they should can advertise themselves as instructors of Aikido, even though I did cross-train in Aikido for about six months about 15 years ago.


    Is the Kenjutsu of Inaba a practical art of swordmanship or it works only inside the own system.
    I believe, some swordsman feeling very good in the dojo, but they have no practical experience outside with other people or Ryu (How can I test my sword-practice in modern times?). If you train a 400-years old system, you can be sure - your school was survived because it works! The same with the Kenjutsu of Inaba?
    This is a really tricky question. It's difficult, if not impossible, to accurately appraise a bugei system just on the basis of watching demonstrations of its kata. The problem is that what you think you see is often not what's actually happening.

    Inaba's (and his students') sword techniques resemble KSR techniques, but the majority are not performed in a way that correctly applies the principles and strategms that the original KSR techniques utilize. Thus, if one of MY students were to perform a technique the way that Inaba and his people do, I would caution him/her that it won't "work" that way, and show him/her why. That is, Inaba's kenjutsu would not be practical or efficient FOR SOMEONE ATTEMPTING TO FIGHT THE WAY KSR PRACTITIONERS ARE TAUGHT TO FIGHT.

    But Inaba's sword (and other weapon) work is NOT KSR, and so its efficacy CANNOT be judged by KSR terms, standards and perspectives. The fact that his techniques wouldn't work for someone trying to fight like a KSR adept, DOESN'T NECESSARILY mean that they won't work for someone trying to fight like an Aikido adept. And that's the standard and perspective against which they need to be evaluated.

    And the only real way to evaluate them is to test them in combat; anything else is all speculation. So the short answer to Ulf's question has to be "maybe, maybe not." Having said that, however, there's one other consideration that should be factored into the discussion (and the speculation):

    The efficacy of KSR sword, spear, jujutsu and other techniques, AS UTILIZED BY KSR EXPONENTS, has been proven over and over again, not just by the fact that the system has been around for a long time (for, as Dan Harden notes, things change over time, which means that a long pedigree doesn't mean that what's taught today is the same as what was taught a few centuries--or even a few decades--back), but by the undefeated records of the current and previous headmasters in no-holds-barred matches and actual fights. That is, people learning from Kunii Zen'ya or Seki Humitake were/are being taught by men who had/have seen the proverbial elephant and were/are in a position to analyze, explain and modify techniques based on undertanding born of real experience, as well as dojo practice.

    I, and Seki's other students, do not have that experience, and can therefore only judge the efficacy of our swordsmanship and the correctness of our understanding of what works and what doesn't on the basis of Seki's assurances (or the absence thereof) that we're "doing it right." And that's one very big reason why most of us are very careful about trying to train and teach EXACTLY the way we were trained and taught.

    As far as I know, Mr. Inaba does not have any experience in sword fights, matches or duels, which means that the modifications he's made to the KSR techniques he was introduced to in his short apprenticeship nearly four decades ago have not been tested in combat or even weighed against real combat experience. That doesn't necessarily discredit the efficacy of his swordsmanship, but it IS grounds for scepticism.

    Nevertheless, Mr. Inaba and his students teach Aikido, not hand-to-hand combat or swordsmanship for military or self-defense purposes. If the sword and other weapon work he's adapted from KSR help to advance his students' understanding and skill in Aikido and its goals, the question of whether or not it's practical for sword fighting is really moot.

    [Edited by Karl Friday on 01-03-2001 at 08:30 AM]
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    Hi all

    Several years ago I attended a seminar in Lincoln UK held by the local Aikido club. They had brought in a student of Kanetsuka one of the Japanese Aikido instructors in the UK to teach a sword style.

    Right at the beginning of the class he started to call it Kashima Shin Ryu. Since that time I have read Karls book seen him on video etc, and what we did may have resembled a little of the KSR, but the whole essence was not there.

    I study a lot of the Kukishinden Ryu sword in my Bujinkan training, and at the course I felt that i was much senior in skill. Now I know that we were not learning from a legit connection to the KSR, i almost feel ripped off.

    I have since seen the Aikido Guy (it was not Kanetsuka at the course). I questioned him about the origin of the line they study and all i got was abuse for questioning his skill.

    It is a shame that he could not just put his hands up to the fact he was teaching a swords manship based on KSR, he seemed to hate the fact he had been exposed. I do not know of Kanetsuaks connection to the KSR or if he is connected to Inaba so I cannot comment.

    Karl do you have plans for another book.

    Paul Richardson
    Bujinkan Lincoln Dojo UK
    Paul Richardson - Shidoshi
    Bujinkan Lincoln Dojo

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    Dear Dr. Friday,

    Thank you for your detailed explanation. Having been an aikido student of one of Inaba-sensei's students in Norway and having practiced these KSR-derived techniques for a short while, I used to follow the discussion whenever this question arose on Iaido-L, but it's still good to have it all in one place.

    There's one thing, though, that I never quite managed to figure out. Could you please explain the relation between kenjutsu and batto in Kashima Shin-ryu? My teacher used to practice batto from time to time, but as I'd read that Inaba-sensei had only learned kenjutsu, that kept me wondering.

    Thank you.

    Andrei Arefiev.

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    In the Kashima-Shinryu, batto-jutsu is considered to be just an auxilliary form of kenjutsu--one that begins with the sword still in the scabbard. Students usually begin learning it after a year or two of training in basic kenjutsu. There are there are 32 batto-jutsu kata in the curriculum, but many of these are near-duplicates of one another, essentially the same draw applied against an opponent attacking from a different direction. Beginners most often practice these kata as solo forms, but they are meant to be done with a partner (an uchitachi), and advanced students practice them this way.

    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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