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Thread: Koryu - 400 years of hobbiests with no combative experience? Not really.

  1. #16
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    Russ,

    I would argue that in fact, if the whole point of koryu kata is to prepare an individual for combat in which there is a high probability of losing one's life, any attempt to reconstruct an old kata that does not have some understanding of this experience would be lacking something "vital."

    As we all know, the reason koryu kata are supposedly effective vehicles for teaching combative arts is because they are the results of continuous feedback from actual combat. Now I just don't understand how anybody who has never seen any form of combat could conceivably RECREATE/and or reconstruct lost kata? Grappling forms might be slightly easier because you can actually test these, maintain feedback, etc. But a sword kata? Has anyone here ever been in a real sword fight? So how are you possibly going to re-create an old form that was originally designed, presumably, by someone who engaged in not just one, but many sword fights? I suppose you could try simply based on the principles of the previous forms. But that would still lack, I presume, the true vitality of the original form.

    This is where some form, ANY form, of real combative experience would at least provide guidance to someone trying to recreate lost kata, since they would at least have an understanding of the neuro-psychological stress reactions, the stress on motor activity, and some understanding of combative bio-mechanics. This would be valuable even if they only understood this on some intuitive level, e.g., this posture doesn't feel right, etc.


    That being said, the entire translation from combat experience, to kata, and back to combat experience is so intuitively remarkable that I constantly find myself amazed by the warriors who created this stuff.

    Best regards,
    Arman Partamian
    Last edited by Arman; 24th April 2004 at 21:22.

  2. #17
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    Hi Kit,

    Then, ten minutes before the demo started, he would say "Changed my mind, we are doing XYZ kata instead." Now, these might be the brand new kata we just learned, or they might be some kata we had not done together in a long while (maybe he was just testing to see if we were working on the other stuff!) So while we knew he was probably going to do this to us, we didn't know what he was going to have us do.

    -snip-

    However, I heard from several individuals at different times (including demos I did not attend) that some of those watching were surprised. This was related by people also in attendance that were acquainted with Ellis and the ryu. Comments were heard that it was "not koryu," it was "not real kata," and was not the way things should be done.
    What you described is exactly what Obata Sensei used to do to us back in the old days. It was frustrating and stressful for all of us, but looking back now, I see it as valuable experience. It's all about performing under stress, and enbu (for most people) is one of only two opportunities to do this.

    I haven't tortured.. I mean, trained my students in this way during enbu yet, but have intended to begin this with some of my intermediate students. Beginners (from my way of thinking) would go over the edge if I added that component to their enbu.

    In addition to just making last minute changes and doing other things to ensure that we were all stressed out, Obata Sensei would often just pair up with you, bow, draw his bokken and being striking and/or thrusting at you during a demo. We of course never knew what it was we were supposed to be performing with him, but knew without fail that if we didn't do *something* (ie: don't get hit or stuck in place), we would be in DEEP ca-ca.

    Very useful experience in retrospect. I don't know what "koryu" exponents do, but I've seen a lot of koryu that - in my opinion, isn't "koryu" as well. But for different reasons!
    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)

  3. #18
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    Just a quick request from the peanut gallery...I think someone said that this was a continuation of a thread from somewhere else. Can someone provide the link so I can get a bit of the background? Thank you. If this was incorrect, nevermind. Very interesting discussion to read, thanks all.
    J. Nicolaysen
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    "I value the opinion much more of a grand master then I do some English professor, anyways." Well really, who wouldn't?

    We're all of us just bozos on the budo bus and there's no point in looking to us for answers regarding all the deep and important issues.--M. Skoss.

  4. #19
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    Originally posted by nicojo
    Just a quick request from the peanut gallery...I think someone said that this was a continuation of a thread from somewhere else. Can someone provide the link so I can get a bit of the background? Thank you. If this was incorrect, nevermind. Very interesting discussion to read, thanks all.
    http://www.e-budo.com/vbulletin/show...0&pagenumber=1

    Kit & I were talking.

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    Thanks Russ, I was reading that one, but didn't know the connection/spin-off. Makes more sense now.

    It's an interesting discussion. Begs the question of why people want to revive a lost part of curriculum. What should be developed and why. Careful consideration is needed, I would think....Anybody need a cowboy to help revive koryu bajutsu? (sp? you can tell my noviceness. I am referring to the horsemanship of samurai. And it's a joke btw!) Enough out of me!
    J. Nicolaysen
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    "I value the opinion much more of a grand master then I do some English professor, anyways." Well really, who wouldn't?

    We're all of us just bozos on the budo bus and there's no point in looking to us for answers regarding all the deep and important issues.--M. Skoss.

  6. #21
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    Default Re: What goes in sometimes comes out wrong

    Originally posted by Mekugi

    Let me use an outrageous and fictitious example:

    Let's say, for the sake of argument, that every practitioner of Shinto Muso Ryu jo is killed off by a freak virus that only attacks people using white oak jo. The only people remaining are the ZNKR practitioners who were using red oak jo and they decide to re-construct the ryu. Given that, do you think they could possibly do it? I mean, they have plenty of randori experience and a great amount of study in the seiteigata, right? Now all's they would need is a person who is versed in live stick fighting and killing people to add the proper flavor.

    -Russ
    Bad analogy,

    Pre-supposes that ZNKR jo people don't practice koryu, and/or can't keep the koryu seperate from the seitei.
    Nulli Secundus

    Ed Chart

  7. #22
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    Many good points are being made in this thread.

    I would like to add my two, well maybe only one, cent. I believe in this context “combat,” is loosely defined.

    I would argue that perhaps it is not what a person does, but instead just being faced with the situation that has potential for life-loss. Being forced to act in an environment in which the stakes are high and the stress levels exceed that found in most normal activities creates the "edge" that is being debated. In other words, though the paraphrase is a rough one, being forced to operate in “life-&-death” types of situations on a regular basis achieves the mental conditioning required for success.

    In addition, I know that training and repetition within these types of environments breeds competency. I also know, via three generations, that being involved in such activities changes one’s perspective.

    Here is what I am saying, albeit not well, that high stress potentially lethal activities, when preformed repetitively, and with training, create results within individuals. These changes are subtle and are adaptations of stress management and subsequent skill performance, and personal perspective. Though police-work and going to war (i.e. military service) are two ways to achieve results, there are other just as effective occupations.

    Finally, one of my pet peeves is the ongoing questions over “street effectiveness.” Despite the many debates in many locations, the real reason to study a combative is for personal enjoyment. The truth of the matter is hand to hand combat is a loosing proposition. Yes, there are always exceptions, but being in shape and use to competition alone will take you a long ways towards self-defense. Before I get angry responses from all the “combat trained martial arts folks,” training in a combative, or combative sport will not hurt you, but it is not a huge advantage either. In addition, when a person works with violence on a regular basis, it quickly looses its fascination and mystique, if it ever had it.

    I was once asked by a fellow pajama wrestler guy, why I chose the profession I chose, rather than pursue police work. He asked me "how I could train for all these years and never get to really do it?" Though the number of reasons for my choice in occupation is numerous, I responded to this person by saying; " I do get to do it...I do it 5 days a week here in the dojo, and this is where I enjoy it."

    Best regards,
    Aaron Fields

  8. #23
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    Aaron

    Wassup, buddy!

    Be honest, you really don't do police work because you prefer to lounge in a recliner at the station, eating homemafe breakfast that the newbies cook for you right there, and would rather the cops get all the hate and discontent so that when you show up with your caring attitude and the morphine everybody loves you...


    I would agree with you but with a caveat - its not just dealing with danger/possibility of death - otherwise extreme sports guys are getting the same conditioning and will have that same edge.

    The difference is violent interpersonal human aggression and its effects. It is dealing with this kinda thing that provides the mental conditioning you are talking about, I think.

    It is never pleasant to see someone whose been made a mess of in any incident. I think the psychological aspect is much different when someone was "done ugly" through the intentional malicious act of another person than if in an accident, or just some intentional stunt.

  9. #24
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    Hi Nathan,

    You said:

    What you described is exactly what Obata Sensei used to do to us back in the old days. It was frustrating and stressful for all of us, but looking back now, I see it as valuable experience. It's all about performing under stress, and enbu (for most people) is one of only two opportunities to do this.
    Is the other situation shiai, actual conflict, or testing? I have one instructor who has the habit of waiting to the final week before the test, then switching your partners around, changing the techniques (including rather sophisticated multiple evasion techniqes) and other things of this nature. I must admit, it certainly upped the level of anxiety for me...and that was just an aikido test.

    Ron

  10. #25
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    Kit,

    How are things? Yes that is it..."rookiee I like rye toast..," Give me a call some time, had a Kosen guy come through the dojo for a while, good fun. Oh...well I gotta go cause the rookiee hasn't set up my bunker gear like I like it... "hey rook......."


    See ya
    Aaron FIelds

  11. #26
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    Sorry was going to say something actual.

    I agree Kit the specifics may be slightly different, but the effects are the same.

    For example I have worked with new firefighters who had been cops or military (saw combat in Somalia) prior to the fire service. There conditioning in dealing with stress management was a huge advantage. Yes their initial training and experience were not those found in firefighting, but the coping skills etc crossed over. Most folks there first time in a burning building freeze up, these guys did not, they were a bit frantic yes, but not worthless.

    My whole point is that the specifics of the jobs may vary, but on the big picture the end result is the same.

    Our line of work does not bring us in interpersonal violent encounters often, I have and will again been forced to deal with patients that were not willing. Or the shooting and knifing wasn't finished yet but we had to get to the patient(s.) Are we specifically trained for this, nope, but we are trained to act.

    As to the combat sport guys getting the same advantage, I would say they are moving towards the same place yes. The stakes are bigger outside the ring for sure, but, sport of any sort, if a huge step towards the same capacities.

    It is nothing special, simply stress management and real-time application of skills under duress. Yes the specifics may be a bit different, but the meat of the matter is really the same thing.


    Aaron Fields

  12. #27
    Mekugi Guest

    Default Re: Re: What goes in sometimes comes out wrong

    Didya miss the outrageous and fictitious part?

    Anyway, I could care less if they practice koryu (wait...do you mean Shinto Muso Ryu?), that doesn't mean they could reconstruct the SMR kata doing only seitei along with kendo randori/shiai and some crazy SOB that kills people with sticks; this was the point I was edging along at.

    Originally posted by FastEd
    Bad analogy,

    Pre-supposes that ZNKR jo people don't practice koryu, and/or can't keep the koryu seperate from the seitei.

  13. #28
    Mekugi Guest

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    Originally posted by Aaron T
    Kosen guy come through the dojo for a while, good fun.See ya
    Aaron FIelds
    Really? From the Tokyo Newaza group of from Kyoto?

  14. #29
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    I do not recall, he was a University student that was doing a year at the University of Washington. He was a player on his University's team and he said that school was one of about 6 doing Kosen. The name of his university slips me, it was a little while back. He has since gone back to Japan to resume his MD studies.

    Nice guy and fun to work with.

    Aaron Fields

  15. #30
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    When Ellis, Kit, and Nathan are on a thread, I can't resist jumping in even if I have little or nothing to offer, but since this thread seems to be about a perennial favorite subject on e-budo that gets disinterred pretty regularly, and seems to have something to do with cross fertilization/contamination (depending on one's point of view), I thought I would say something.

    First of all, aside from getting victimized by thuggish jocks on an intermittent basis in high school and spending a year and a half in a state of barely-controlled panic while training in kendo with the riot squad police in Japan, I have never really been in "real fight", so I want it to be clear that I am making no claims of any sort here.

    Anyway, to get to the point, I finally figured out how to half-way decently perform a vital part of a Nagao Ryu kata that I had never been able to do worth beans in the two years that I trained in Nagao Ryu during my time in Japan. I managed to do this while training with a senpai of mine in SMR jo who has extensive hand-to-hand grappling expeience.

    The reason I was able to figure it out is because I realized that the key movement in this kata bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain tai-sabakai movement in a particular kata in SMR jo. The specific technical application in Nagao Ryu is different, obviously, since sticks are not involved, but after SMR practice one day we were throwing each other around, and I realized, suddenly, what was going on in the kata and why I had never been able to do it. This time, the Nagao Ryu kata worked like a charm, absolutely the first time I had ever been able to do it worth a damn.

    To make the situation even more intetesting, part of the reason I had been able to figure it out is because even though the key movement of the kata is expressed as a kind of footwork, it really doesn't work because of the feet, it works because of the rotational action of the middle-waist (koshi) which in turn acts as the motive force behind the execution of footwork.

    Why is this intetesting? This sort of thing should be obvious to anyone who does Japanese budo, where the teachers are always emphasizing the action of the waist and hips. To me it is interesting because I really learned that footwork is not in the feet but in the middle waist through practicing and (especially) teaching kyudo, of all things. To walk proplery in kyudo you must learn how to propel your body by walking from the hips. This is especially important in turning during walking. The waist turns and then the feet follow. I found that if I applied this principle to the movements of SMR jo I was able (or so it seemed to me) to perform the movements much better, and in this particular kata it worked like a bloody charm. I then found that it was the key to the Nagao Ryu kata as well. One of budo's little epiphanies, with which I am sure you are all familiar.

    Now, having said that, does that mean I know how to fight?

    Damned if I know. I will start hanging around in seedy dives and biker bars at 3:00 in the morning and then get back to you if all goes as as planned.
    Earl Hartman

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