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Thread: Did koryu really originate from battlefield arts?

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    Default Did koryu really originate from battlefield arts?

    Hello,

    So, were koryu battlefield arts? Mr Amdur in his writings confirm that, but others claim that they were not used in battlefield combat. What is your opinion? Did they start as battlfield arts, and later on, changed to a more "budo" behaviour?Losing the bujutsu essence?

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    I would say no, but that depends on what interpretation you have of koryu.

    The one most common is that Koryu is generally used to describe any combat art created before the fall of the Samurai in 1870's.

    The last gasp of the old battlefield action was the Shimabara Rebellion in 1637-1638. Then there were peace (more or less) until 1868 with the onset of the Boshin war.

    And there were of course lots of ryuha founded in between 1638 and 1868. So if going by a strict "battlefield" interpretation of Koryu then the arts founded well after, and before, any sort of battlefield action would not be koryu. In fact prolly alot of ryu from the classical period would be classed as non-koryu using that comparison, including Shinto Muso ryu jodo (late 1500's, early 1600's) which was never a battlefield art.
    Fredrik Hall
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    Thank you for your reply.I wasn't very clear. Actually I meant not all coryu, but the ones that have the title of kogusoku(battlefield grappling). Maybe these arts do have battlefield origins. Any thoughts?

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    What exactly is your definition of "battlefield art"?
    Josh Reyer

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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    What exactly is your definition of "battlefield art"?
    Hi Josh,

    I mean that these arts have an origin from battlefields. Certain coryu have a basis in duelling, the give and take of the sword, like there is a "one to one" confrontation, not to "look" around like you are surrounded by enemies. Not to mention the fact that, as long as the sword concerns, swordfighting is said to be used mainly in duels, not in battles.

    Mostly spear is considered more battlefield oriented, along with naginata.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dojomaniac View Post
    Hi Josh,
    I mean that these arts have an origin from battlefields. Certain coryu have a basis in duelling, the give and take of the sword, like there is a "one to one" confrontation, not to "look" around like you are surrounded by enemies. Not to mention the fact that, as long as the sword concerns, swordfighting is said to be used mainly in duels, not in battles.

    Mostly spear is considered more battlefield oriented, along with naginata.
    Its true that the sword was not the first-hand weapon if the warrior had a spear & naginata ready and on hand, (which the samurai most like would have had at the beginning of a pitched battle). The sword is though considered to be a very important weapon in many Koryu with "battlefield" intent. The Katori Shinto Ryu tradition, argubly the most revered of the classical ryu, puts the sword in the center of their teachings as they believe its the most flexible of all weapons.

    So I think to associate sword-fighting exclusively with duelling is a gross generalisation. I think this is a result of the much published fiction from, and about, the peaceful Edo-period (1615-1868) during which they did not carry a spear & naginata in the execution of their regular civil-duties, unlike the two-swords.
    Fredrik Hall
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    Dojo

    Wouldn't that kinda depend on the school? Some koryu are easily old enough to fit various time frames.

    Many of them contained grappling/atemi.......some still do and in others its fallen out of practice......so are you asking of somehad it "then" or if they "still" have it?

    Plus......wouldn't it also depend on how you defined "battlefield?" How many people fighting at one time is needed for it to be a "battlefield?" 10? 100? 1000? 10,000?
    Seriously not trying to be a pain......just not sure how to answer the question without a bit more concrete framework/s.

    Besides, what real difference does it make to your training?

    Again, just asking.
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    Hi,

    I also think it depends upon which time in an arts history you are refering to. For one example, the Takagi Ryu (and it's branches) is said to have been originally founded by Takagi Oriuemon Shigenobu after studying a number of weapon based arts, specifically Kyochi Ryu Sojutsu, and Ito Ryu Kenko Ryu which taught Sojutsu, Naginatajutsu, Bojutsu, Hanbojutsu, Kodachijutsu, and Kenjutsu. It came into contact with the Takenouchi Ryu in it's second generation, starting it's focus on grappling/unarmed combat that would totally replace it's weapons-based syllabus in surther generations, particularly after coming into contact with Kukishin Ryu.

    The Takagi Ryu later gained a reputation as a 'bodyguard" school, with Jujutsu techniques that are said to be designed for use indoors. So this school which was founded and based on "battlefield" weapon systems later became a school of primarily suhada jujutsu, even going so far as to lose it's own original weapon skills, and taking on those of another school (Kukishin Ryu). Would you classify this as a "battlefield" art, as that is how it was founded, or not, as it evolved over the generations?

    Personally, I feel this is an under-acknowledged aspect of the classical systems. I don't feel that arts such as Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu originally had such a strong emphasis on sword, but more likely focused on weapons like spear, or naginata. Later, when the longer weapons were les likely to be encountered (as in the Edo period, when you would find warriors wearing two swords, but rarely carrying a spear down the street).

    Oh, and the term "kogusoku" doesn't quite mean "battlefield grappling". That would probably be katcchu yawara, or yoroi kumiuchi. Kogusoku is made up of two terms; "ko", meaning "small", and "gusoku", which literally refers to a "complete set", and is used colloquially to refer to a set of armour (yoroi/katcchu). So the term "kogusoku" refers to being lightly armed, or wearing minimal armour. In the Takenouchi Ryu, for instance, I believe the term is used for a jujutsu syllabus which includes the use of weapons such as tanto and daggers.
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

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    "Bujutsu" essence, is a combative mindset. A combative mindset is the product of many factors.

    As a guy that does Koryu and gendai, I will tell you that in my experience it isn't what you do...it is how you do it that makes a "bujutsu" essence. (The only difference between an sport armlock and a combat one is I stop when you tap in sport.) The difference between a good linebacker and a great one is the "bujutsu" essence

    In regards to Koryu, they are no more free of their context than anything else. Some are, or have become products of a past dueling era. Some retain the applicication of large scale conflict from a period of strife.

    Almost no koryu, that I know of, do what soliders do best which is work as a unit. Swinging a naginata or jabbing a spear by yourself, without another man stuck to your shoulder, with another cat on the other side of him etc. is just swinging a naginata and jabbing a spear, it is not a replication of battlefield tactics.

    In Araki many of the postures and movements are meant to take in to consideration armour, uneven ground, carrying your kit for long distances, running in your kit, etc. I have never seen nor been part of two units outfitted go charging another koryu group. More important nobody practices that way either. So battlefield tactics, no. (Making a distinction between tactic and task.)

    A bit of a thread split maybe. Koryu is no more or less "serious," than gendai. They are both products of their context. The "fight" is in the man not the practice.

    Aaron Fields

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSxuQ5ahRJ4#t=2m50s

    The only group tactics clip I can remember seeing.
    TSKSR - Kakudokan Kristiansand
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    [QUOTE=Aaron T;475288Almost no koryu, that I know of, do what soliders do best which is work as a unit. Swinging a naginata or jabbing a spear by yourself, without another man stuck to your shoulder, with another cat on the other side of him etc. is just swinging a naginata and jabbing a spear, it is not a replication of battlefield tactics.[/QUOTE]

    If I understand things correctly, the majority of what we consider Koryu Martial Traditions today were never really ashigaru/footsodier style training. In fact, they would often just be taught the basic movements of a weapon (for example, with a spear, thrust, retrieve, thrust again), and sent out to the front lines. The martial arts, though, were originally taken from the individual skill sets of particular warriors, and were based more on individual combat. That is not to say that it precluded battlefield usage, just that it was a higher skill set, and not something that was the regular.

    If you look to the origin stories of pretty much any system, it will talk about one individual, and how they got the particular insights that became the foundation for their style, but I have yet to see any that include "The founder then used his strategies for his Lords army, which proceeded to defeat the enemy...", or indeed, anything like it.

    I have heard a story form China which claims that only the wealthy and priviliged could ever actually learn martial arts, as they were the only ones with the time to train, and the money to coax the hard-won secrets to survival out of the experienced warrior. The poor (peasants, conscriptees of the fuedal era) were simply too busy trying to keep food on the table.
    With Respect,
    Chris Parker.

    兵法二天一流剣術 Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu Kenjutsu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
    天真正伝香取神道流兵法 Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu (https://www.facebook.com/MelbKoryuKenjutsuKeikoKai/)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    If you look to the origin stories of pretty much any system, it will talk about one individual, and how they got the particular insights that became the foundation for their style, but I have yet to see any that include "The founder then used his strategies for his Lords army, which proceeded to defeat the enemy...", or indeed, anything like it.

    I have heard a story form China which claims that only the wealthy and priviliged could ever actually learn martial arts, as they were the only ones with the time to train, and the money to coax the hard-won secrets to survival out of the experienced warrior. The poor (peasants, conscriptees of the fuedal era) were simply too busy trying to keep food on the table.
    Not that I don't agree with your point that most soldiers on a battlefield have little training in, or use for the martial arts as we practice them (and as they were historically practiced) but Musashi explicitly states in the Gorin no Sho that his students are to take the insights they gain from his teachings on individual fighting and apply them to small and large group tactics on the battlefield.

    And vice versa. See the small in the large and the large in the small is the idea.

    Kim Taylor

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    Quote Originally Posted by K. Fredheim View Post
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSxuQ5ahRJ4#t=2m50s

    The only group tactics clip I can remember seeing.
    That is WAY cool, it'd be very neat to see their other group stuff.

    Incidentally, the weapon that with a certainty was the primary "battlefield" tool, and that would have little use outside of an open combat context.
    Kit Leblanc

    In Harm's Way

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    Based on what I know, most martial art styles were invented for individual combat. Mugairyu, Itoryu, Yagyu Shinkageryu, were all arts founded after the Warring States Period, meaning they did not have the recent memories of war imprinted upon their creator's minds when the systems were being devised.
    Though I take that back, as Yagyu Sekishusai did serve in countless battles, we are more ready to recognize Munenori or Jubei, who served in few, if any battles.

    It is thusly that without this combat experience that their arts deteriorated into dueling arts. Though, as stated prior, the mindset of dueling is that if one can take down another, then one can take down ten others. That the lessons learned in martial arts were applicable to large scale warfare in the sense that the theories and understandings of combat can be applied to an entire army.

    Most combat arts, Jigen ryu notably from what I've heard, focuses on constantly moving, due to a combat awareness of everything going on on the battlefield.

    Ultimately, you wouldn't swing a naginata or a yari around in a formation as you would when confronted on a moonlit night on a veranda while assailed by ninja, just as you wouldn't swing a naginata in a house. The applications are limited by the environment, but your technical understanding of the weapon is not.

    So then the battlefields arts were limited by the quick and imprecise effects of speed and strength, whereas the calm peace of the Edo period allowed most styles to perfect their moves and examine the effects on the human anatomy, thus we see that in some stabbing attacks with a sword, there is a definite angling to the sword to deal with the opponent's ribcage, a detail not commonly thought of when being conscripted to battle after battle.

    So where koryu arts used on the battlefield? Yes, I'd say. In the sense that generals put their understandings of combat to work and that lower-ranking samurai put their techniques and prowess to work in the skills they were taught by an impromptu instructor.

    Edit: Sorry to add on to this incoherent post, but also:


    In the end, what is battlefield combat at its most base idea? One man versus another man to the death. One wins and one dies. Multiplied by a few thousand, we then have a battle. If a person survived, they took this knowledge and founded their own style and school. If this was learned and taken into battle, it was used and propagated, provided the students lived.
    Last edited by PiersonJ; 15th April 2009 at 05:20.
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    Johnathan Pierson

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    Quote Originally Posted by PiersonJ View Post
    Based on what I know, most martial art styles were invented for individual combat. Mugairyu, Itoryu, Yagyu Shinkageryu, were all arts founded after the Warring States Period, meaning they did not have the recent memories of war imprinted upon their creator's minds when the systems were being devised.
    Though I take that back, as Yagyu Sekishusai did serve in countless battles, we are more ready to recognize Munenori or Jubei, who served in few, if any battles.
    What is commonly known as "Yagyu" Shinkage-ryu was created by Kamiizumi Ise-no-Kami Hidetsuna sometime in the 1550s, smack dab in the middle of the Warring States period. Sekishusai, as you note did participate in a fair number of battles, receiving a citation of valor in the service of Matsunaga Hisahide. Indeed much of the Yagyu family did. Sekishusai's oldest son, Toshikatsu, was shot and wounded twice in battle, becoming an invalid, and his fourth son Muneaki killed 18 men in battle before being shot down. Munenori was at the Battle of Sekigahara and both winter and summer sieges of Osaka Castle. Toshikatsu's oldest son, Sumitoshi, was killed in battle during one of Hideyoshi's Korean campaigns. Toshikatsu's second son (and 3rd soke of Shinkage-ryu) Hyogonosuke fought in at least one rebellion, and his son Kiyotoshi was in turn killed at the Shimabara Rebellion.

    It is thusly that without this combat experience that their arts deteriorated into dueling arts.
    There was no such deterioration in Shinkage-ryu. Various innovations were created for fighting without armor, but the kata and kuden for fighting in armor were retained.
    Josh Reyer

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