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Thread: Oshikiuchi / Gotenjutsu (Daito-ryu)

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    Default Oshikiuchi / Gotenjutsu (Daito-ryu)

    I'd like to open this thread to document discussions and writings on the subject of "Oshikiuchi" as incorporated into Daito ryu.

    Many people accept Stanley Pranin's explanation in his book CWDRM, page 22:

    "Tokimune and others have written that Sokaku learned secret techniques called oshikiuchi and that it was these arts that form the essence of Daito ryu. The characters used for oshikiuchi, "O (an honorific) + shiki (ceremony) + uchi (inside)," [3 kanji provided] represent a rather curious combination, and do not convey any obvious meaning. They were probably recorded based on the oral testimony of Sokaku who was himself illiterate. One theory is that the correct Chinese characters are actually [4 kanji provided] "O (an honorific) + shikii (threshold) + uchi (inside)." According to this view, what was actually referred to as oshikiuchi were not martial techniques at all, but rather court etiquette or manners that trusted subjects of the inner circle who were allowed "inside the threshold" were expected to observe. If this is indeed the case, what Chikanori Hoshina [aka: Saigo Tanomo] taught Sokaku during the latter's visits had to do with matters of samurai etiquette."
    This is definitely a possibility, especially if you believe that Saigo did not study martial arts, as his diaries seem to imply.

    However, as Mr. Pranin notes, the majority of direct students of Sokaku concur that oshikiuchi was - or did include - self defense techniques, and were taught to Sokaku by Saigo Tanomo.

    As far as kanji goes, if oshikiuchi was a term orally transmitted within Daito ryu, then the kanji could easily be confused. Sokaku was said to have spoken a little unclearly at times, I believe because of his front teeth having been knocked out.

    The kanji that has been recorded for oshikiuchi (in the first example on page 22) is interesting. The first kanji "O" can be considered an honorific, or, it can be pronounced "Go" which refers to a palace. This "O/Go" kanji is the same one used in "GOten", which means a "palace or court". Gotenjutsu, a term used sometimes in reference to aspects of Daito ryu, may in fact be an alternate name for Oshikiuchi. Also, Oshikiuchi and Goshikiuchi sound similar, and it is possible that this was the intended pronunciation.

    The first set of kanji on page 22 for "shiki" is very close to that of "bu" as in "BUdo"), which if used, would more clearly state that this was a combative art to be applied inside the palace (gobu-uchi??). This similarity in kanji could be a coincidence, or it could be a copiest error. It depends on whether the term was transmitted orally or written by hand in mokuroku.

    "Uchi" (inside) is the only kanji not in contention.

    Oshikiuchi has been classified in some texts as "Otome waza/jutsu/bujutsu", which refers to an official art associated with a certain clan and typically "secret". Otome in the context of Daito ryu would be used as an alternate term as opposed to something completely different.

    Any thoughts?
    Last edited by Cady Goldfield; 13th July 2014 at 18:50.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Default Kondo Katsuyuki s.'s quote

    "The art of Saburo Yoshimitsu Shinra was then transmitted to the Minamoto family and then to the Takeda family in Kai (present day Yamanashi-ken). After that it was handed down through the Takeda family as a gotenjutsu (martial art for use inside the palace). On the other hand, in the time of the fourth Tokugawa Shogunate, Ietsuna [1641-1680], Hoshina Masayuki of the Aizu clan, the fourth son of Hidetada, entered Edo castle as an instructor to the Shogunate family and completed development of the art which came to be known as oshikiuchi. Therefore, the Daito ryu of the Takeda family and the oshikiuchi of lord Hoshina Masayuki were transmitted separately. Then in the Meiji period Takeda Sokaku sensei perfected Daito ryu by combining the school that originated in the Takeda family and the school of the Aizu clan. Thus, Takeda Sokaku is the father of Daito ryu and should not be omitted from the history of the art."

    From: Kondo Katsuyuki "Katsuyuki Kondo Interview", Aiki News #79, 1988.

    The preceeding text was the basis for Kondo s.'s section in the CWDRM on page 154.

    Also, Hoshina was the ancestoral line of Saigo Tanomo, and Saigo assumed the name "Hoshina Chikanori" after the defeat of Aizu castle (in which he narrowly escaped in 1868).
    Last edited by Cady Goldfield; 13th July 2014 at 18:51.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Default Takeda Tokimune quote

    "Hanmi handachi techniques are among the old techniques of Daito ryu. When the fourth Shogun, Ietsuna (1641-1680), was 11 years old, Hoshina Masayuki, an Aizu clan lord, had been in Edo castle for 20 years as an instructor. He taught hanza handachi (seated techniques) then. However, these techniques cannot be used in battle. These hanza handachi were to be used against sudden attacks inside Edo castle. Since techniques could not be executed while in a standing position inside the castle, one had to do them while kneeling. Hoshina Masanori studied these highly formal techniques, that is, the techniques created in Edo castle. Takeda Sokaku taught hanza handachi techniques in Sendai. Many people of the Sendai clan studied these techniques.

    From: Takeda Tokimune "Doshu and the Daito ryu School Speak Their Minds!" Aiki News #79, 1988.

    Sendai is a city inside Miyagi prefecture. Other sources record Sokaku being taught oshikiuchi by Saigo in 1898, and that Sokaku travelled to Miyagi, Iwate and Yamagata prefectures afterwards:

    http://www.aiki-buken.com/chronology.html
    Last edited by Cady Goldfield; 13th July 2014 at 18:52.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Default Other quotes

    From CWDRM:

    "Therefore, at the time of the Meiji Restoration sword arts were more popular than jujutsu. Jujutsu was just beginning to be practiced then. Oshikiuchi, the palace art, was an exception of course." - Takeda Tokimune, page 46.

    "Among the Daito ryu jujutsu techniques is a particular type of aiki technique that we call hanza handachi. Techniques that were studied for use in the palace are called oshikiuchi. The hanza handachi techniques of the Daito ryu were used during that period in response to any situation that might arise." - Takeda Tokimune, page 51.

    "Aikijujutsu is comprised of oshikiuchi techniques, in other words, techniques for use in actual combat. There is a fundamental difference between these techniques [jujutsu and aikijujutsu]." - Inoue Yusuke (Kodokai), page 101.

    From the article "Doshu and the Daito ryu School Speak Their Minds! (Takeda Tokimune):

    "Hanmi handachi techniques are among the old techniques of Daito ryu. When the fourth Shogun, Ietsuna (1641-1680), was 11 years old, Hoshina Masayuki, an Aizu clan lord, had been in Edo castle for 20 years as an instructor. He taught hanza handachi (seated techniques) then. However, these techniques cannot be used in battle. These hanza handachi were to be used against sudden attacks inside Edo castle. Since techniques could not be executed while in a standing position inside the castle, one had to do them while kneeling. Hoshina Masanori [Chikanori?] studied these highly formal techniques, that is, the techniques created in Edo castle. Takeda Sokaku taught hanza handachi techniques in Sendai [most northern part of Honshu ? Aomori]. Many people of the Sendai clan studied these techniques."

    From "The Hidden Roots of Aikido":

    "There the martial art system became known as o-shiki-uchi, or, 'practice in the room', and alternately as an o-tome-bujutsu, or, 'inside-the-clan martial art'; both these terms are thought to suggest the great secrecy with which the Daito ryu techniques were guarded. Sokaku was born in 1860 in Aizu, where he received instruction in th traditional o-shiki-uchi arts of the Aizu clan from his relatives and from Tanomo Saigo (1830-1905)..." - Shiro Omiya, Page 14.

    From "Dynamic Aikido" (Shioda Gozo):

    "In 1574, Takeda Kunitsugu moved to Aizu and the techniques passed on to his descendents came to be known as Aizu-todome [possibly supposed to be "Aizu-otome"] techniques." - Hiroshi Takeuchi, Page 12.

    From "Classical Fighting Arts of Japan ? A Complete Guide to Koryu Jujutsu" (Serge Mol):

    "Some researchers maintain that 'Oshikiuchi' are non-martial methods of etiquette, while several key figures within Daito ryu state that, in addition to etiquette, there are actual techniques - hanza-handachi to be specific - that were created to be used within the inner chambers of Edo-jo (Tokyo castle). The martial techniques or principles may have actually been referred to as 'aiki no inyo-ho' (aiki methods based on yin/yang) - perhaps a part of Oshikiuchi. They were techniques that were prohibited to be shown in public and were only shown within the Takeda household."

    From Ogami Kenkichi ("Daibukan") regarding Daito ryu history:

    "The Takeda-ke inherited from the Minamoto family methods that were passed down within the Takeda family, through Takeda Shingen, and eventually to members of the Aizu han (North-Eastern Honshu) in 1574 by Shingen's brother Takeda Kunimitsu as 'Aizu-todome' techniques. This was a family tradition, previously taught only to direct relatives within the Takeda family. The other line was called 'Oshikiuchi' (palace martial, possibly founded in the early 1600's by Lord Hoshina Masayuki, fourth son of Hidetada, who entered Edo-jo as an instructor to the Shogunal family of Tokugawa Ietsuna [Shogun between 1651-1680] and completed development of an what was later known as oshikiuchi), which was an art considered to be 'Otome waza no Aizu-han' (inside techniques/secret art of the Aizu clan), taught only to the elders within the clan, hatamoto ranked samurai, members of the castle guard (bodyguards) of both sexes, and other individuals whose rank or occupation justified the instruction. These were techniques that were prohibited to be shown in public and were only shown within the Takeda household. Sokaku combined the Daito ryu of the Takeda family with the oshikiuchi of Lord Hoshina."

    From the article "The Meiji Man" (Laszlo Abel):
    Last edited by Cady Goldfield; 13th July 2014 at 18:54.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Nathan,

    An excellent compendium of quotations!

    I think an interesting question regarding Oshikiuchi is the extent to which 1) the meaning is to be taken literally, 2) symbolically, or 3) both.

    If we assume a literal understanding, then "inside the palace," or "within the threshold," etc., would lead one to think about either a) combative arts to be utilized in the palace or b) forms of etiquette, or c) both.

    If symbolic, oshikiuchi could mean the secret, or guarded techniques of an art - those "within the threshold." Or, on a more mundane level, following Draeger's analysis, as jujutsu techniques were considered, generally speaking, secondary in pre-Edo times to the use of weapons, it could symbolically refer to the rest of an art's technical curriculum that is comprised of unarmed, yawara-type techniques, "within the threshold," i.e. within the art form, but not wholly comprising the art form.

    The possibility of distortions in the transmission of the kanji that you pointed out also raise all kinds of problems interpreting the meaning.

    I am more inclined to believe it is a literal term rather than a symbolic one. I say this because, according to Ellis Amdur in a recent e-budo discussion we had on the differences of pre-Edo and Edo koryu kata, pre-Edo kata that include idori techniques have the nage up on his toes, while Edo period idori generally have the nage in full seiza position (toes flat).

    Mr. Amdur indicated that the "live toes" would have placed the nage in a far more agressive and ready position, and is indicative of the practical nature of the kata. During the Edo period, full seiza idori kata were far less practical and more refined by concerns for etiquette - i.e. less practical.

    Accordingly, one reasonable position based on these assumptions is that the idori and hanza handachi kata of DR were either developed, or modified, in the Edo period. They represent a typcial Edo-period, less combative/practical idori form that was either developed during a time when strict etiquette would have trumped combative/practical concerns, or pre-Edo kata that were modified by the currents of the Edo-period. As such, it would represent a combination of combative forms AND etiquette. I tend to favor this view.

    On the other hand, I don't discount the possibility that the original meaning of the word was as a general, symbolic description of those yawara techniques that were either guarded, or simply a subset of a larger art form.

    Sorry about the lengthy post.

    I would be curious to hear other people's opinions on this as well.
    This is one of the more fascinating areas of DR technical history.
    Excellent post, Nathan.

    Cheers,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

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    Default Just to Clarify iidori/seiza

    Iidori and seiza only look alike.

    Iidori is simply the way that Japanese fighting arts simulated being on the ground in a slightly formalized way. It encompasses any fall forward, slip, crawl, etc. - unlike some other nationalities, Japanese martial arts didn't make "skits,' as if, for example one tripped over the camp dog, fell on hands and knees and then was attacked by an enemy who took advantage. therefore, iidori is outdoors/indoors - it simply encompasses postures when one isn't on one's feet or on one's back. Therefore, more than a few jujutsu schools have "hanmi handachi" kata - representing a man on his feet fighting one who is on the ground. In some schools, it is the one on his feet who wins, representing realistic battlefield situations.

    Arts which have seiza in their kata come from several sources.
    a. They are deliberately simulating an indoor encounter - as some imagine Daito Ryu intended
    b. It represents a degeneration. One practiced inside, one was on one's knees and people either didn't learn the meaning of the techniques they studied or they got changed to fit the times, for better or worse.

    So even if the kata have one sitting in seiza, that alone establishes little more than it's Edo period influence - not necessarily that it was founded in that period.

    One thing about Daito Ryu - there is a truly vast number of techniques against an unarmed enemy. Most, in fact. Most jujutsu ryu, sengoku or edo, focused against someone armed with a kodachi or dagger. And despite any formality, these would be carried inside the palace - that was part of normal dress. To be unarmed was not the way one would present oneself.

    To me, that suggests a more modern origin, at least in it's present form. It doesn't make sense to me that hundreds of techniques with an armed uke were stripped of their tanto. It's not that simple - a weapon in the hand changes how one grips, pins, attacks, etc. The principles may not have changed, but the technique changes drastically.

    And although people keep mentioning how similar DR is to other jujutsu ryu, particularly in the first level techniques, I don't think this is true. yes, joints are often locked in similar fashion. But Daito Ryu has a very different rhythm, a different flow, a different expectation of what the uke will do. (and once again, I am venturing no opinion on effectiveness). Despite whatever differences they may have, aikido and Daito Ryu look far more alike and bear far more in common than either does to any other jujutsu ryu I've seen - at least in so far as koryu schools go.

    With respect

    Ellis Amdur

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    Ellis wrote:

    "Despite whatever differences they may have, aikido and Daito Ryu look far more alike and bear far more in common than either does to any other jujutsu ryu I've seen - at least in so far as koryu schools go."

    Ellis, what would be some of the major differences you perceive between the jujutsu ryu you refer to, and Daito Ryu? Especially, what do you see that you believe aikido and Daito Ryu have in common with each other, that you do not see in those jujutsu ryu?

    Regards,

    Cady
    Cady Goldfield

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    Ellis,

    Thanks for the elaboration and clarification on the idori/seiza issue.

    As for similarities between DR kata and koryu jujutsu, one at least comes immediately to mind: In the ikkajo series of the hiden mokuroku, karaminage is very similar to kata I have seen in other koryu jujutsu. Unfortunately, I don't have my books in front of me (at work) so I can't immediately provide you with the names of the similar tech. with other schools. In aikido, I have seen a technique that seems to come from karaminage (don't know the name), but is extensively modified in application.

    I have also seen photographs in books which look remarkably similar to some of the "jujutsu" in DR. I must admit, of course, my experience in both DR and my knowledge of koryu arts is quite limited, especially compared to yourself and many of the contributors to this forum. Furthermore, you are correct in stating that most DR kata are against unarmed opponents (as far as I am aware), although many of the unarmed strikes of the uke are based on armed attacks (e.g. sword and knife). Of course, I realize this isn't unique to DR.

    Finally, as Cady stated above, I also would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the similarities between aikido and DR v. the disimilarity between DR and, even, Edo-period jujutsu schools.

    Thanks for contributing,

    Sincerely,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

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    Default One other thing. . .

    Almost forgot to mention that, unless I am mistaken, I am not aware of too many modern arts (post-meiji) that utilize the pinning techniques of DR (which are quite extensive). I have also seen some older video and photographs that show the end of the pin with a simulated throat cut.

    I'm no aikido practitioner, but I don't believe they use any technique remotely similar to the various pins in DR.

    Perhaps others could fill me in on the ubiquitous nature of this aspect of DR, or lack thereof, in both koryu and modern arts.

    Sincerely,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

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    Arman - I agree that many of the Daito Ryu pinning techniques are not seen elsewhere. Many of them seem to resemble human origami. Also included in this is the body stacking in multiple attack.

    Cady - I've certainly seen many of the specific joint locks elsewhere. The difference is flow and the role of uke, and, as I pointed out earlier, weaponry.

    1) Classical jujutsu (that's quite a broad topic), even including many Meiji forms, sets up the kata in several fashions:
    a. the uke takes hold with a really firm grip, that is somewhat stylized in appearance when coupled with the kiai
    b. Sometimes, it's fast, dynamic - it looks rather like a natural attack - but often, even there, the beginnning and end has a particular stylized nature.(throwing something back at you aiki-folks, this is really hard to describe - but easily observed when you see it).

    I've seen either videos or live presentations of most of the major branches of Daito Ryu (not Sagawa style). The uke in everything I've seen "makes himself available" in an unambigous attack or grasp. (I'm talking about the practice method - not what can conceivably do with the skill one acquires). There is a particular flow and timing to the attack which isn't either like classical jujutsu, in my experience, or the way people, in the raw, fight. The locks and throws are applied to uke in this context.

    Aikido derived this from Daito Ryu. "Proof" of that is the video of Ueshiba in Osaka at Hisa's dojo in 1936. He taught them, what, the first eight of what became their eleven tiers, and then Takeda came in, and by all reports, used that as a platform to continue the teaching. And what Ueshiba was doing, that looks not all that different from modern aikido, was thus, in enough harmony with Takeda could "finish" the job. And Hisa's group, although different in many aspects, is not denied by the mainline, as doing DR (they chose to adopt the mainline mokuroku to order their techniques, I believe - the mokuroku reportedly organized by Tokimune, as Takeda apparently just cascaded out techniques either at random, depending on the audience, or perhaps in an order all his own - as ech group got it differently).

    Now lest we get started, none of what I'm saying has anything to do with any belief on my part whether DR and/or aikido is weak or ineffective. I'm just saying that in my observation, in my conversations with DR practitioners, in my years circulating in-and-out of aikido, there is something unique about the "aiki" arts that is held in common with DR and aikido. It's the way that great genius' (Takeda and his students) found best created the kind of practitioner they wanted to create. I'm saying simply that Daito Ryu and aikido are almost instantly recognizable as kin. For a brief time, the Aikikai was pushing Goto-ha Yagyu Shingan Ryu as perhaps a more significant influence on Ueshiba's development, because "he learned that first." Pure shameless politics that they soon abandoned. There are probably a few of the same joint locks in YSR as in aikido - but no one would make a connection between these two schools unless informed, and there still, it would just be book learning.

    This is all vague. Sorry. What I'm basically saying is that I believe that if one had people do various jujutsu ryu behind a screen, so all you could see was shadows, people could pick out the aiki arts. (Shorinji kempo, once they get away from the pugilism that they claim from China, is obviously another derivitive).

    I find it fascinating that in old films of Ueshiba, when he's doing his tour-de-aiki techniques, (body stacking, etc. or techniques that no one else knew - magical techniques, emerging from the kami, etc.) they were often identical to Daito Ryu kata. Even his hand gesture at the end of the kata (body inclined, one arm down, one upraised) was a typical kamae of Daito Ryu.

    I will once again conclude with my usual caveat. Not interest in furthering the "aiki-wars." Not talking about combat efficacy. Think of it like music. You've got this huge history of classical music, and then Debussy started his tonal Impressionism. Imagine a student of Debussy carrying this further - maybe watering it down (Impressionism is the basis for "mood music" as a background in movies). That's Takeda and Ueshiba in my opinion. You listen to Debussy and you can hear, obviously, all the elements of the classical music that preceded him. He is rooted in that. But he, a genius, made something knew out of it, that, for better or worse, they hadn't conceived of.

    With respect

    Ellis Amdur

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    Ellis,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

    It seems to me that your comparisons are based more on stylistic protocols (e.g. uke-tori roles in kata) than on the actual principles of the arts themselves. If that is the case, then I'd agree with you that the formal kata approaches of many aikido and the main Daito-ryu systems do share some things in common. It's only natural that Ueshiba would retain some of the stylistic flourishes and protocols he had learned prior to developing his own system -- different though it had become from Daito-ryu.

    But, I'd have to say that in the case of Daito-ryu and aikido, those visible characteristics are fairly superficial. You can link the heritage of aikido to Daito-ryu by its protocols, perhaps, but aikido is so physically removed from Daito-ryu in terms of interpretation of principles and execution of technique, that they truly are two very different arts. I believe that anyone whos has having experienced both would find them entirely incompatible with one another.

    I wish I had more experiential exposure to the koryu jujutsu systems in order to make an educated comparison. I haven't any, except for having viewed videos and listened to the opinions of those who have had some exposure. But it seems to me that Daito-ryu would have far more in common with koryu jujutsu in terms of being principle-based and in relying on the same mechanical principles, than it has with aikido, which has modified or lost many of those principles. Especially in regard to the weapons-based movements, vectors and strategies -- which still exist in Daito-ryu, but which appear not to in aikido.

    I appreciate your analogy to stylistic inheritance of artists and musicians from their teachers; it is a good one, and I agree that it must surely apply to Ueshiba in view of Takeda's influences on him. However, I don't believe that that in itself is any proof that aikido and Daito-ryu have more in common with each other than Daito-ryu does with koryu jujutsu. Take away the surface stuff -- the protocols and stylized exercises -- and instead focus on what is physically being applied in terms of principles, and perhaps you'd find a completely different set of relationships and associations.

    Nevermind looking at aikido and Daito-ryu taking place behind a shadow screen; instead, I'd suggest we put on blindfolds and then train with aikidoka, Daito-ryu aikijujutsuka and koryu jujutsuka. Then we can take a poll on what relates to what.

    Thanks for the food for thought. This is an interesting topic to ponder, at least for me.

    Regards,

    Cady
    Cady Goldfield

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    Ellis,

    Thanks for the response. I have to say it is a little humurous the extent to which you want to make sure everyone understands that you are not talking about DR aiki-effectiveness - you must have had a bad experience as a child with some cranky DR practitioner.

    Seriously, I understand where you are coming from - there are a lot of defensive people out there that are quick to respond to any implication of martial ineffectiveness or weakness. You should be happy to learn that none of the DR practitioners I have encountered thus far in this forum have displayed such childish characteristics.

    Now, back to the topic at hand.

    Your comments are very interesting, and I have to confess to a lack of extensive experiential knowledge of koryu jujutsu to either agree or disagree with your comments. Lots of book learning, but very little actual experience participating or watching koryu jujutsu. My practical background is in modern Japanese arts, some Chinese arts, and Daito-ryu. Thus, anything further I was to say about koryu jujutsu would be based on what I have read, discussed with others, and speculation.

    That qualification being stated, I would venture one other opinion. While IMO Sokaku Takeda is the "father" of modern DR, I am skeptical that he is the principal founder of the art as a whole. My skepticism is based on the history of MA development overall, and as a pracitioner of the art.

    Point in fact, most modern arts have some traceable root cognate that you can identify as the foundation of the art. For example, aikido/DR, judo/Kito-ryu & Tenjin Shinyo-ryu; karate/Chinese boxing and kung fu. Furthermore, even older arts have recognizable historical influences from various schools.

    It seems to me unlikely, therefore, that Sokaku Takeda is the generator of the entire technical curriculum of DR, with all its concommitant principles, philosophy and oral teachings. This is not to say that Takeda was not a martial genius. It is simply to say one might presume too much from inadequate historical sources. We know, for instance, that Takeda was a student of Ono-ha Ito ryu kenjutsu and was a skilled sumo wrestler. Not knowing exactly what else he may have studied, are we to assume that all his claims regarding the lineage of DR are fabricated purely for the purpose of conferring a false legitimacy upon the art? I tend to doubt this.

    Finally, one other aspect about the "classical" nature of DR that goes beyond the technical curriculum of the art is the highly formal nature of the teaching. While I have not studied koryu jujutsu, I have studied, briefly, Shindo Muso-ryu and its integrated weapons and styles, as well as seen footage of various other koryu (even Araki-ryu - they are on one of the DR Demo tapes). The "form" of DR kata appear to me to have more in common with the form of these types of schools than anything modern - aikido or otherwise. About the only similarity I see between aikido and DR in terms of its formal performance is the fact that aikido also uses two or more people for a technique. Otherwise, aikido, karate-do, judo, etc. lack the formal quality of DR (and by "formal," I don't mean bowing and scraping. I mean the characteristic manner and quality of kata practice, the integration of principles that supplement the physical movements, the emphasis on "sen sen no sen," and the substantive process of kata practice). [Note: having just read Cady's post, this piggy-backs on her comments regarding the integration of underlying principles of technique as expressed through the kata which are not readily noticeable from an observers standpoint, but are drastically apparent to anyone who practices the art - and consequently makes DR stand far apart from aikido]

    All of these factors, combined with your incisive comments, can leave me only with a sense of resigned agnosticism: I can't verify the historical lineage, and the evidence based on a critique of the curriculum itself is, IMO, contradictory, at best.

    Maybe you could shed some more light on my comments, for I do believe that the extent to which knowledgeable individuals like yourself can contribute your thoughts to this issue, the better the information we can collect to provide a basis for analysis and "speculation."

    Sincerely,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland
    Last edited by Arman; 19th March 2002 at 22:44.

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    Cady -

    I have little more of worth to offer on this topic. I have had Daito Ryu techniques applied to me in friendly exchange - (Kondo line) and again, drawing no conclusions about merits, I found I was in "familiar territory."

    Remember, too, that I was trying to respond to a question about DR's place in history as based on the method of practice. And how, almost anyone at a koryu demo, seeing DR and aikido and not recognizing it immediately, will be confused, only to the degree of saying, "That's aiki - - - do? jutsu?" It will never be, "I wonder if that is Ishiguro Ryu or Shosho Ryu."

    Whether the DR people have some essential qualities that aikido people don't or lost after Ueshiba M. is not my concern (recall reading Tokimune saying that Ueshiba was, at one point, the most knowledgeable DR man, and knew far more than Hisa, simply cause he studied with Takeda longer). I think many of the more prominent DR folks in Japan see things far more in the sense of a continuum regarding DR and aikido, rather than a pure division.

    As for your speculation on how the technique feels beyond the protocols and set-ups, I think that you would be rather surprised how different most koryu jujutsu feels (and by this, I mean the real made-in-Japan deal, not modern or modernized adaptations). For one example, ryu that EXPECT the enemy to have weapons somewhere, always, have a very different attitude on how to make body contact. Again, I'm not saying that DR, for example, cannot be practiced with this in mind. But it is obvious in many kata that it isn't the immediate consideration. Most older koryu were so obsessed with this that it structured how they pinned, locked, etc. They would not be as effective against a highly skilled unarmed opponent, because many things one can do against a weaponless person weren't part of their study. Judo's success was proof of this.

    The one person doing jujutsu whom I have seen who displays something similar the DR-like territory, is Kuroda Tetsuzan, and his art is a) very atypical in it's present form from other jujutsu schools b) heavily influenced by his cross-training association with Kono (forget his first name), formerly aikikai, now doing his innovative thing, very concerned with vectors, no extraneous use of musculature, etc. Again, I have no opinion about Kuroda's effectiveness in the way he does techniques, nor am I saying it's the same as DR. (I keep harping on this because I've read too many threads which focus on minutia, coming down to "it's DR - not it's not - well it's aiki - not our aiki - etc. - can't explain what aiki is anyway" And I don't want to get in the middle of one of those arguments again - you guys scare me! Like being attacked by Lewis Carroll.)

    As for principles, I think that most jujutsu schools are, in the body stuff, far closer in theoretical underpinnings to judo/grappling than the sophistication DR is attempting to create. Many Meiji jujutsu schools, which specialized in joint locks in standing situations don't have nearly the "flow" that DR (and aikido) have. As far as Takeda was concerned, I believe it was this essential fluid quality, that he could apply a technique from any angle or configuration that made him, by reputation at least, so superior to other practitioners of other schools he encountered. And my point is that the methodology of practice is, in fact, central, creating thru that practice, a really different set of reflexes - the protocols and practice methods create the fighter. The techniques are far less important, as I'm sure you will agree.

    Just posted this and saw your last note, Arman. Speculation here:

    a) The arrangement of DR in mokuroku, etc., was done, I believe by Tokimune, and again, I believe, he used Asayama Ichiden Ryu as a template for the form of his mokuroku. Thus, he arranged it in classic form. (if this is correct)
    b) of course Takeda didn't make it all up from scratch! First of all, he was one of the most accomplished swordsmen around - and not just Ono-ha Itto ryu. as I understand it, that ryu was chosen as the best vessel to contain, within the kata, the prinicples he was teaching.
    c) A lot of sumo techniques are in aiki arts, and sumo ukemi is far closer to that of aiki arts than judo, or classic jujutsu. Sumo has "flow" practices (kakari geikko) very similar to aiki throws, in the rhythm. Takeda must have studied some jujutsu. The sword schools he is known for don't have jujutsu, but he must have studied something, even later in life, and channeled all the expertise and genius he acquired previously. Aizu had a number of jujutsu ryu, and he surely must have run into others in his travels.
    d) I think it is very interesting that Tokimune, in describing his father's contest with the karateka, says how his father mused on how to beat such speed, and he then recalled to himself his skill with the sword, and that the sword moved faster, and he fought him as an unarmed swordfighter. He makes no mention of his father using this or that Daito Ryu technique. This was written in the period well before Takeda ever said he did something called Daito ryu or Oshikiuchi.
    e) Supposedly, after Takeda's fight with the construction workers, the judge, although letting him off, told him that the age of the sword was over and that he should concentrate on jujutsu. Perhaps Takeda took it to heart (he was, essentially, a law-and-order kind of guy - preferring to teach judges, military and police). So then one of the very best swordfighters in all of Japan, someone who, therefore, grasped the essential qualities of the ryu he studied and then surely could apply them in other similar venues, took older, somewhat stiff and formalized jujutsu technique and gave it the flow he had experienced not only in kata but in uncountable freestyle bouts with shinai, etc.
    f) In each place he taught, he taught a different way, a different number and set of techniques. Of course, a man like that would teach in classic style! He was the ultimate classicist, not in the sense of an antiquarian, but who lived classically.
    g) Whatever way the man was grabbed or otherwise attacked, he demonstrated something. By report, once - or only on that day. He never did have to "repeat" himself, although there were surely favorite techniques.
    h) Each group organized all they could retain, take notes or remember. Somehow, each group learned essentail principles, and ended up with DR, as different as the various groups were before the present ecumenism led them to organize their teaching along lines similar to the mainline.

    All speculation. Oh, MightoDaitoFightoAcolytoes

    Ellis Amdur

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    Mr. Amdur,

    Thanks for contributing.

    I came across your article "A Conversation with Daito-ryu's Other Child" some years ago in the Improvisations column you had been writing (Aikido Journal, #101 1994), and have been wanting to invite you to this forum to discuss some of the points you brought up there.

    Since they relate to your comments above, this is a good time to ask!

    For the sake of those who have not read it, I would like to post a few relevant sections:

    I have observed Daito-ryu over the years, and I find it a most singular art. Although it is classified as a koryu, it is quite unlike any other remaining jujutsu school in Japan. One of the most significant differences is the number of kata - literally hundreds of elaborations of grappling and locking techniques. The almost minute delineation of technique is quite unusual among old martial arts, particularly concernig hand-to-hand unarmed combat.
    These observations seem fair enough to me. Daito ryu is unusual in a few ways from what I can see.

    Two arts were said to have been combined into one, and (loosly) organized by Takeda Sokaku under the name Daito ryu. Also, Sokaku travelled extensively, creating branch locations and teaching an unusually large amount of students. I suspect Daito ryu evolved with Sokaku as he became more experienced and refined. The methods taught were said to have been adapted to the person being taught (like Takuma Hisa and Horkikawa Kodo). Daito ryu history also states that the art was primarily a sword/weapon based art before the Meiji period, and that Sokaku had adapted the art to focus primarily on jujutsu afterwards.

    However, there is a clear operating system for the art, and the looseness in structure (prior to Tokimune) supports the position that the art is concerned primarily with principles rather than "minute details'.

    Daito-ryu has an extremely long and elaborate curriculum, the memorization alone of which would take decades.
    The different branches seem to claim different numbers of techniques in the system, and some branches asign very few if any names to the techniques themselves - though names are given to major operating principles. I believe that the large curriculum is presented in an attempt to document the variations for future reference, as opposed to being techniques that every student must memorize eventually. But this might still be a different approach from that of other koryu.

    One problem with watching Daito ryu on video, books or in demonstration is that none of these really offers an accurate overview of "Daito ryu". For example, DR aiki is supposed to be the heart of DR, and is rarely shown at any high level publicly. Kondo s. shows jujutsu, as does the Takumakai. The videos of the Roppokai show elements of DR aiki, but do not necessarily represent what the Roppokai entails in whole. The Kodokai and Sagawa dojo have been very careful and conservative about showing these methods to outsiders at all, and to not be familiar with these is to not have a balanced view of DR (no offense intended - just posting a common fault by some who don't train formally).

    The general exclusion of weapon work in a jujutsu based system is unusual, though there are weapons of some kind taught in most the DR branches at some level of initiation.

    Your point about awareness of possible weapons and the limitations of wearing weapons is an outstanding one. I believe that most the aiki techniques, since they are performed with minimal movement and minmal leverage strength, are well suited for the possibility of weapons. The more standard Jujutsu techniques may have the problems you state. Interesting considering that the jujutsu techniques, historically, all end with the opponents head being severed. This would indicate that some kind of blade is supposed to be worn in the belt somewhere (?).

    Unlike Daito-ryu, almost all other koryu insist that the one in the teaching position takes falls. Instruction takes place as the teacher sets the situation up so that it is necessary for the student to be working at the limit of their capabilities in order to "win".
    The role or tori and uke (shidachi and uchidachi in weaponwork) is also an important point. I think as far as the aiki techniques, it is more beneficial to feel them that it is to practice them. The subtlties can't be taught, but must be felt repeatedly to click with the practitioner. This may be why Sokaku thought to reverse these roles. Interesting role reversal though.

    [The extent of memorization required] suggests that Daito-ryu, despite the rigor of many of its techniques, was not a warfare art, as battlefield combat is taught far more economically
    DR history says that some of the jujutsu was continued through the Takeda family for many generations. Interestingly, the Heiho Okugisho (supposedly written in the early 1600's and first published in 1804 - currenly translated and available in English) has a section called the "Zu no Maki" (techniques), which shows "Takeda ryu" jujutsu. Many of these methods look very much like Daito ryu.

    Whether they are armored or not, fully or partially, is another question. The drawings in Heiho show figures without armor though.

    The jujustu principles in DR seem economical in principle, though the seeming attention do detail may not (IMHO).

    Your article goes on to say, which I'll paraphrase to save my fingers and posting space, that it is interesting to note that the DR instructors that have founded their own line or art have all opted to simplify the techniques into a handful of core methods, more in keeping with koryu.

    This is also interesting, and could be viewed as a good or bad thing, depending on your point of view!

    BTW, I'm happy to hear that your familiar with Kuroda sensei and his Shishin Takuma ryu jujutsu. As you say, the methods appear in approach to be more classical, and are extremely soft and subtle in application. He displays many of the aiki principles found in other arts like Daito ryu, though I don't believe he uses the term specifically. For those interested in seeing this art, there are video tapes available through BAB Video.

    Thanks much for your contributions here. I'll see to it that your not viciously attacked for presenting your views!

    Regards,
    Last edited by Cady Goldfield; 13th July 2014 at 18:56.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

  15. #15
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    Wink Vicious Attacks?!

    Nathan,
    I'm not sure that Arman's and my inquiries to Mr. Amdur qualified as vicious attacks. An Inquisition, perhaps -- but with comfy chairs and soft cushions.

    In fact, I really like the "Oh, MightoDaitoFightoAcolytoes" monicker, and am thinking of asking Dan if we can include it in our E-Budo sigs.


    Cady
    Cady Goldfield

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