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Thread: Ishi Yama Ryu Battojutsu - D.C./North Virginia

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    North Virginia
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    Default Ishi Yama Ryu Battojutsu - D.C./North Virginia

    This is just to inform anyone interested that Ishi Yama Ryu Battojutsu will be offering classes in the D.C. metro/North Virginia area beginning October 11th, 2008. Classes will be held at The Jhoon Rhee Institute of Tae Kwon Do in Falls Church, VA, and will be each Saturday from 6-8pm (at least initially).

    Ishi Yama Ryu Battojutsu FAQ

    Is Ishi Yama Ryu (IYR) a traditional form of Japanese Swordsmanship (i.e. koryu)
    No, Ishi Yama Ryu is not koryu. It was developed by Russell McCartney Sensei. The original version of IYR technique was codified in the early 90s, but since then it has continued to grow and develop as the theoretical application of IYR technique is refined. The technique itself is rooted in Toyama Ryu Battodo and Nakamura Ryu Battodo, and also draw upon influences in Aikido. In addition, the style differentiates from traditional budo in that it integrates many "western" concepts such as geometry, physics, and biomechanics. So while it is not koryu, that does not imply that the technique is not well fact, nothing is done arbitrarily, and everything has a specific purpose.

    Shouldn't "Ishi Yama Ryu" be written "Ishiyama Ryu"?
    Technically, yes, however the seperation of Ishi and Yama into two distinct words was done conciously in order to retain the meaning (stone mountain) without implying association with the Ishiyama Clan...however the kanji are still written the same. The "stone mountain" has a deep philosophical root in Ishi Yama technique and student development, and so it, again, was not selected to mimick a legitimate samurai clan but to instill a practical ideology.

    To quote McCartney Sensei: "As we all know as a rock
    ages in the waters of life, its edges are worn smooth as it is washed
    clean of its impurities and imperfections. The rock eventually becomes a
    'stone - ishi'. Therefore, as we mature and developed in sword, our
    techniques are able to address all manor of challenges from all sides
    and in the end, only the mountain of stone remains.

    I am not Japanese obviously and my tradition and technique did not come
    from Japan; it is only in the style of Japanese sword. I did not and
    would not claim something that was not mine; what IYR is, is a uniquely
    American expression of swordsmanship in traditional Japanese style. I
    adopted the name and the structure of the name 'Ishi Yama' is an effort
    to seperate us from, with and to our kindred counterpart of warriors from
    feudal times when a greater value was more often placed on virtue and
    honor and hence, it was more openly rewarded."

    If it is not of Japanese origin, is IYR a legitimate martial art?
    The concept of legitimacy is actually a very interesting debate, and there are numerous arguments about what constitutes a "legitimate" martial art. There are actually quite a few applicable definitions of the word legitimate in and of itself which shape the argument in many different ways:

    1. Being in accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards
    2. Based on logical reasoning; reasonable
    3. Of, relating to, or ruling by hereditary right

    In many respects, definition 1 and 3 tend to be the most emphasized, and in the martial arts world that usually corresponds with two main questions: how old is it and where did it come from? What the age and origin questions infer is that the mechanics and philosophy of the technique in question at one time or another accomplished what the technique was basically designed to do...defeating your opponent. Having a proven track record, and being able to trace how the technique has passed on since then is a very reasonable measure of legitimacy. Interestingly, technique often varies quite a lot when you look at the totality of the koryu and gendai schools that exist.

    The problem that modern styles face, in not only sword but other weapon techniques, is that they do not often have this clear path demonstrating that the techniques "work" as they are intended...this is largely a consequence of the lack of dueling in the streets So often, modern styles are considered illegitimate on that premise alone, and there is generally not room for debate. Unfortunately, the pressure to meet these first two criteria is often so strong that schools have resorted to distorting the facts of the origin of the school (see the controversy surrounding the origin of Haidong Gumdo for more info). The only claim to legitimacy that can be made for modern schools is based on definition 2, which is highly subjective and difficult to prove.

    The approach that IYR has made to demonstrating "legitimacy" has been through sparring, tameshigiri and sound theory. Sparring helps show the effectiveness into combative principles, and tameshigiri emphasizes cutting technique...or in essence this can be reduced to: can you hit your opponent and if you can hit them then how effective is your strike. Theory, on the other hand, gives specific and logical reason why an action is performed in a certain way.

    Unfortunately, very few schools practice sparring on a regular basis, so demonstrating combative technique relative to other styles is difficult to prove. However, we have repeatedly demonstrated the effectiveness of IYR cutting technique, and have broken a few Guiness World Records for tameshigiri in an effort to demonstrate that the technique functions as it was intended. In Seattle, although we were not a traditional school, we have been invited to demonstrate regularly at Aki Matsuri, and had great relationships with other koryu and gendai schools in the area. Ultimately, IYR has to be experienced in order for real judgement to be made.

    If you are curious about IYR, and would like to judge for yourself, some video is available at:

    Please contact me at with any questions or concerns.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    North Virginia
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    In response to the idea of legitimacy, there is a great discussion in the koryu subforum that I highly recommend reading through.

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