View Full Version : will your art survive intact?

26th October 2002, 00:11
A comment keeps recurring in the martial arts community and it brings to mind a question.

The comment is "My Sensei is so knowledgeable, his technique is flawless, or in general, he is awesome, I'll never be as good as he is or know as much as he does."

So here is the question that comes to mind. If we will never be as good or knowledgeable as our instructors and if they felt the same way about their instructors, is the art in a downward spiral and slowly becoming more inferior with each generation?

My personal opinion is that we are each good at particular techniques that lend themselves to our body size, flexibility, capacity to comprehend, or even our ability to interpret what we are taught and adapt it to our personality. To say of ourselves that we will never "be as good or know as much", I believe we are going against that which we have been taught as the most basic of fundamentals--self confidence. Anyone has the capacity to obtain knowledge, some just have trouble retaining it or recalling it.

As far as phsyical technique is concerned, practice-practice-practice. Develop your strong points and develop your weaknesses even more so.

It's up to us as deshi to uphold the integrity of the arts in which we are involved and devoted to. We should strive to achieve a level of knowledge and proficiency of technique worthy of the rank we achieve and the art we represent respectivly.

I'm interested in hearing some opinions.

Thomas Wall

Óscar Recio
26th October 2002, 08:25
There are a few words that, i hope, can add something worthy to the Topic.
Many classical ryu in Japan are now just pretty dancing. It is so sad. They have not adapted their techniques to address modern realities. They cling only to antiquated forms and in the process, often neglect the concepts which form a particular traditions core. Some people wish to preserve the arts exactly as it was in olden times. This is commendable but usually folly. With very few exceptions, no existing koryu reflect even a fraction of the arts technical heritage as practiced in eras past. It is impossible for any teacher to transmit 100% of an arts traditions, yet many koryu believe that the student should do everything exactly like the teacher, to so preserve the art. Without the addition of an instructors own wisdom, experience and most importantly, technical innovation, the art in just several generations is but a hollow shell of what it once was. Without the consideration of modern realities to challenge an arts effectiveness, it becomes a museum piece whose only modern relevance is that of a historical curiosity. The proof of this error in thinking has many historical examples to back it up. Katsuyori Takeda clung foolishly to outdated techniques of battlefield engagement even though he was aware that it's effectiveness was seriously compromised. New strategies involving a devastating technical innovation, the tanegashima (musket) were employed by his enemies. His samurai were cut to pieces in rotating volleys of musket fire by Oda Nobunaga's ashigaru. One of the most impressive armies in Japans history was efficiently decimated because it's leader was unable to part with a strategy that he knew was compromised by changing realities. Romantically drawn into doing things as they had been done successfully in the past, he was defeated by his traditional mindset. This strategy of old, and Takeda's failure to adapt in the face of overwhelming evidence to change, cost him everything.
I will not allow a similar flaw in technique or mindset to compromise my students potential safety. My grandfather often emphasized that my jujutsu must really work. That it must become my own jujutsu. And that someday my students jujutsu must become their own. That was his legacy to me and it should be my legacy to them, as well as him." Takamura Yukiyoshi http://www.shinyokai.com/interview.htm

Of course...not everybody can do ALL the techniques of a Mokuroku with 100% effectiveness...sometimes you´re feeling more comfortable with just a few, regerdless of your knowledge of the others, the legacy of a Martial Art is a very commited subject to talk about it.
Of course there are some techniques that i´m better than others....not evereybody can do all the techniques, not all the techniques will work with everybody and even Sensei can fail...
The Art, the core of the Art, stills living thanks to the principles...if people focuss only in techniques probably the Art will be only a copy and will die someday...´cos the principles of the Art are hidden so deep that nobady can notice them.
The Art MUST, just my opinion, still being the Art...the core of the Arts remains...the way that you make the Art live is up to the reality of the moment...isn´t the same the Ju Jutsu of th 18th century compared to the Ju Jutsu of 20th century? Probaly your eyes can say "NO"...the form (the techniques) is only a part of the Art...living inside the techniques must prevail the principles of the Art...if not...you´re only repeating as a maniquin (i hope this word is well written in English, sorry if not)and teh Art is only a photocopy: no real color, not personal aportation..only a copy.
You are not changing the Art...when you are training you are adapting the Art to your body, your mind, your spirit and your view over the world...the Art is just like a skeleton.
When you are studying Sensei give you the lessons to "build" a strong skeleton (this is the basics, the principles: balance, body motion, attitude....) if your skeleton is weak the body (the techniques) probably are failing since the basics are not right built. If a bone of your own skeleton is weak, probably, a part of your body will suffer the consequences. Everybody have inner structures (skeletons), so the MA, how we perform techniques or deal with our body to perform the techniques (muscles, sinews, height, weight) are only our personal aportation and option. Techniques are the muscles and clothes of the Art...skeleton is what survives. This is why an archeologist can tell us so much about dead people...bones.
So the Art are linked, strongly, with who´s teeching you...to learn techniques is VERY IMPORTANT but you must know why the technique works, really, and how.
I hope that, someday, another person looking to my class of Ju Jutsu will be able to say the Ryu that i´m trying to study even if i adapt the techniques to my particular view of life and reality...if he/she is able to say the name of the Ryu regardless of the techniques that i´ll be doing...well...the Art will be "living" with me and, i hope, with my students. This way will be my way (my muscles and sinews, my way to do techniques) but people noticing the skeleton (the core of the Art and principles) are assuring that the skeleton is a good one..so i´ll be honoring my sensei and the sensei of him as well as the whole ryu (ok, ver melodramatic quote :p)
Óscar Recio