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Thread: The Role of the West

  1. #1
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    Question The Role of the West

    Hi Folks,

    I'm currently doing a final essay in college that involves our beloved koryu bujutsu, and I was hoping that I could get some help here at the E-Budo forums.

    The topic that I am trying to do my essay on is "The Role of the West in the Preservation of Japanese Martial Traditions". I am trying to research the history of westerners in the koryu, and also to identify the role that we now play today.

    To what extent has the western world affected the state of affairs in the various ryu-ha?

    Have the various ryu-ha had to adapt to western participation? If so, how much?

    Has our influence been positive or detrimental to the correct transmission of these traditions?

    What exactly is the "correct" way to pass down these arts? Who says so?

    Any input that anyone can give would be appreciated. If anyone has any references that could help me in my research, I would greatly appreciate that as well.

    Thanks for your time!

    Respectfully,
    Alex Guillermo

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    well, we pretty much tried to make them extinct at one time, if thats any help.
    Jim Boone

    Flick Lives!

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    I would advise reading Legacies of the Sword by Karl Friday, and Autumn Lightning by Dave Lowry. These two books go into quite a bit of depth regarding the transmission of koryu to westerners.

    A very good place for research, and to find additional references, would be koryu.com

    Sorry if you already knew of these, but you were pretty non-specific in your request.

    My suggestion for specific information from individuals involved, is to create an interview sheet. Think carefully and create a list of questions that give you the information you are seeking, but that can be answered in a short sentence or two each. You could then send your interview sheet to many of the exponents involved in bringing koryu to the west. Most of them are still practicing, and contact information is easily located on-line.

    Just my thoughts ...
    Paul Smith
    "Always keep the sharp side and the pointy end between you and your opponent"

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    Quote Originally Posted by yoj View Post
    well, we pretty much tried to make them extinct at one time, if thats any help.
    As far as I am concerned initially transmission of Koryu was pretty solid in the west but now it's all about selling DVD's and Books seminars cutting up big targets over propagating and trying to be the biggest school and so on.
    Sebastien Cyr 義真
    春風館道場
    Shunpukan Dojo

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    Well, I don't know what sort of class you are in or what level a research project this paper is designed for. I can imagine the expectations of college writing in Pakistan is somewhat different from American college writing, though I do not know what these expectations would be.

    I would say your questions and thought points are far too broad for a first or second year class, and I have a hard time seeing these be answered to the extent they deserve in a paper shorter than, say, thirty or more pages. You have good thought points, each deserving at least ten or so pages. The first question alone is worth a book. I suppose as a brief, chronologically-organized introduction it would fit a shorter paper.

    The earliest, easily-gotten source of a westerner writing about koryu systems that I can think of is F.J. Norman's "The Fighting Man of Japan" which was published in 1905 or so and recently re-issued by Dover a few years ago.

    Then, as Yoj alludes, a large change occured when the Allies restricted certain aspects of Japanese culture post-war. There are some interesting e-budo posts available to a diligent researcher on just how much restriction and whatnot.

    But there is forty-years difference between those times...A graduate level thesis would be expected to look at why and in what ways Japanese culture may have been trying to mirror or overtake western political systems, and to what extent koryu does this. But a lower level class paper probably wouldn't and it may be digressive for you to follow this too much.

    I am not sure what you mean by "state of affairs" as if there is a common thing to the koryu, and I don't think you can try to narrow this down without having pretty deep knowledge of more than one koryu. Attitudes towards westerners are probably not really shared outside many koryu beyond "yeah we accept them as members" or "no we don't" and inside the koryu I can think of I cannot think of being told much explicitly even as a member.

    Whether the effect of westerners is positive or negative, or having some of both, is an evaluative judgement, and pretty different from the more descriptive and historical points you cover. I'd abandon it or save it for a closing section, and for that section you will rely on the opinions of posters here as much as your own. Do you really want to do that? A shift of tone for sure. Again, this might be expected for your project, but I would discourage it for the level of papers I used to be familiar with.

    The Correct Way To Teach These Arts is probably whatever keeps getting them taught, unless you don't like the way they look, in which case you would say they are incorrectly taught. Those studying them may beg to differ, however.

    Good luck. Submit it to EJMAS at the end of the semester.
    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.

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    Default Just having fun.

    For those students who have a short attention span, I guess I'll just give the cheat sheet version:

    1. In some, lots. In others, not so much. Probably less than you think!

    2. Some of them sure have. But others, I don't think so. Maybe not very much besides a little.

    3. Yes. But probably less than you think.

    4. a) The correct way is the way my teachers taught me, with a couple of small things I'd probably do differently if I were a teacher. But I'm not! b) I say so.

    This advice is worth exactly what you paid for it.
    J. Nicolaysen
    -------
    "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.

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    Hmmm...good points about it being a bit broad. As far as the chronological history goes, I'm planning on giving a brief background, focusing more on the more recent events starting from World War II (a crescendo of sorts, to get more detailed as the paper gets more towards the current times).

    I plan on selecting a few (about three?) ryu, of which I have still not yet chosen, as a "lens" on which to present the subject, a sort of "case study". I guess I want to eventually focus on whether or not westerners have been a positive or negative effect on the selected ryu.

    I think one of the case studies should be on one of the larger schools (i.e. Muso Jikiden Eishin ryu or Shinto Muso ryu). Then perhaps something a little less "populated" by westerners, yet popular, such as Niten Ichi ryu or Yagyu Shinkage ryu. Then maybe I'll throw in the Kashima Shinryu, or the case of the Katori Shinto ryu.

    If some koryu practitioners could offer some of their insights on these issues from the standpoint of their own ryu, it would be a great help.

    I do appreciate the advices though. Dave Lowry's series on his own personal experiences, as well as Karl Friday's work on Kashima Shinryu is definitely going in the bibliography.

    I've never read "The Fighting Man of Japan", but it sounds like it's exactly what I need. Thanks!

    And the interview sheet with questions is a great idea. Now I have to figure out who I want to interview.

    This is all good stuff! If there's anything else, please let me know!

    [Oh, as a side note, I'm studying at an online American University. I'm a US Marine currently posted in Pakistan, not a local ]

    Respectfully,
    Alex Guillermo

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    Mr. Guillermo,

    I think you absolutely must get the three-book series from Koryu.com: Koryu Bujutsu, Sword & Spirit, and Keiko Shokon. In particular, the following articles I think will go to the heart of your essay:

    Koryu meets the West, by Ellis Amdur, in Koryu Bujutsu
    A Coconut Palm in Missouri, by Dave Lowry, in Sword & Spirit
    Promise and Peril, by Dave Lowry, in Keiko Shokon
    Interview with Nitta Suzuyo, by Liam Keely, in Keiko Shokon.

    Another resources is the book Budo Perspectives, edited by Alex Bennett, which features a section on "Internationalization of Budo". There is an article in there written by Meik Skoss titled Tilting at windmills: observations on the complexities in transmission of the koryu bujutsu in Japan and the US.

    One interesting ryu to look at would the Todo-ha Buko-ryu, a naginata ryuha with a Japanese headmaster, but with only non-Japanese shihan. Meik Skoss and Ellis Amdur are two shihan of this ryu (as well as practitioners of other ryuha) who both teach their arts outside of Japan. They both have web presences as well, so properly approached, I imagine they could be quite helpful.
    Josh Reyer

    Swa sceal man don, žonne he ęt guše gengan ženceš longsumne lof, na ymb his lif cearaš. - The Beowulf Poet

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    Mr. Reyer,

    Thanks for the specific references, I'll give those articles/books a good read.

    And I'm fortunately home on leave in Washington State at the moment, so I'll be trying to contact what authorities I can

    Thanks!
    Alex Guillermo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenseiga View Post
    ...I'm fortunately home on leave in Washington State at the moment, so I'll be trying to contact what authorities I can
    How long is your leave?

    If you're in the Everett/Seattle/Tacoma area, I would be willing to loan you my copies of Diane Skoss' Koryu Bujutsu, Sword & Spirit, and Keiko Shokon, and Dave Lowry's Autumn Lightning and Persimmon Wind.

    Then you could get an idea of what's in them, and buy your own copies if you find them helpful.

    Send me a PM if I can be of help.
    Yours in Budo,
    ---Brian---

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    Budoseek has a nice thread with the title "Koryu in the West". Not exactly an academic standard source, but it may help in clearing out those philosophical issues that you raised.

    http://www.budoseek.net/vbulletin/sh...ad.php?t=23485
    Miika Heino

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    Josh mentioned Todo-ha Buko-ryu which sounds interesting. What about Araki-ryu? Just throwing in some ideas.
    Steffen Gjerding
    Kakudokan dojo

    Yup, lousy english

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenseiga View Post
    Hi Folks,

    I'm currently doing a final essay in college that involves our beloved koryu bujutsu, and I was hoping that I could get some help here at the E-Budo forums.

    The topic that I am trying to do my essay on is "The Role of the West in the Preservation of Japanese Martial Traditions". I am trying to research the history of westerners in the koryu, and also to identify the role that we now play today.

    To what extent has the western world affected the state of affairs in the various ryu-ha?

    Have the various ryu-ha had to adapt to western participation? If so, how much?

    Has our influence been positive or detrimental to the correct transmission of these traditions?

    What exactly is the "correct" way to pass down these arts? Who says so?

    Any input that anyone can give would be appreciated. If anyone has any references that could help me in my research, I would greatly appreciate that as well.

    Thanks for your time!

    Respectfully,
    Please don't forget that there are non-Western people who studied Koryu too. In my country Indonesia for example, we have a study group of the Komei Juku Eishin-ryu Iai. Perhaps there are rich Arab guys who studied Koryu somewhere in the Gulf countries as well.
    Ben Haryo (This guy has low IQ and uses a dialect which vaguely resembles Bad English).

  14. #14
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    Sorry for the late reply, being on leave is harder than being at work! Gotta juggle the lunch/dinner/coffee appointments with the friends and family I haven't seen for the last two years...maybe I should start becoming a bit more socially...unpleasant...so that no one wants to be in my company anymore, heheh. It's making me procrastinate on my paper!!

    Anyway, thanks for the offer Brian, but I already received em in the mail! Judging by the time on your post, I ordered the stuff online about an hour after your post, haha. I truly appreciate the offer, though. My leave ends this Friday, so I was a bit desperate in getting stuff mailed now (APO isn't the greatest...)

    Miika, thanks for the link, definitely what I was looking for.

    Steffen, if the information is available regarding Araki ryu and my particular essay, then it would definitely be an interesting "lens" to use.

    And John, I understand that there are non-westerners that study the koryu. However, my topic is already kind of broad as it is, so it is my intention to keep it as narrow as possible.
    Alex Guillermo

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