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Thread: Here a Soke, There a Soke, Everywhere a Soke

  1. #16
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    Mark,

    I am not offended, but I am very adamant about making certain that people know where I stand - I don't want to risk others misunderstanding something that is very important to me. And I also do not want to give the false impression of fraud, deceit, and lies when it comes to representing what I do.

    (I do respect you and our opinions.)

    As far as my use of the term "classical," I may have to concede that one to you. Perhaps gendai is a more accurate term; I draw a distinction between classical and ancient (as in koryu) - classical being the more "modern" derivations of ancient arts, such as different styles of Okinawan karate, aikido, judo, and shinto yoshin jujitsu (actually, that one may be classified as koryu). Gendai I have always seen as being more modern, as in the comparison of timelines between Shorin, Shotokan, and Wado, Wado being the most "modern" (even though it is very deeply connected to the koryu art of shinto yoshin). In this respect I would consider Shorin to be "classical," and Shotokan and Wado being "gendai."

    My use of a japanese term for what I do is not an indication that I have created a japanese "style." I purposely picked a very generic term to label what I do - I did not create nor reinvent anything, but because I applied a structure to my training regimen, it necessitated a label for conveinence. And I chose a japanese term because the majority of my training has been in japanese/okinawan arts. Nothing more, nothing less.

    (Notice how I try to redirect the topic away from more damaging conversation? Hope it works! )

    Jeff Cook
    Wabujitsu

  2. #17
    kagebushi Guest

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    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Jeff Cook:
    My use of a japanese term for what I do is not an indication that I have created a japanese "style." I purposely picked a very generic term to label what I do - I did not create nor reinvent anything, but because I applied a structure to my training regimen, it necessitated a label for conveinence. And I chose a japanese term because the majority of my training has been in japanese/okinawan arts. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Jeff Cook
    Wabujitsu
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Jeff,

    i thank you for this post. I have a couple of business decisions to make regarding this issue. You just gave new food for thought.
    BTW, how about we jump into your forum, and continue with the Tactical Decision Exercises... We should ask Neil for something new, hey wait a minute you are the moderator, how about you putting up one ( instead of straying in other forums...)

    See you in CQC,


    ------------------
    Mark Brecht

    [This message has been edited by kagebushi (edited 06-07-2000).]

  3. #18
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    Uuuuppsss,

    just a little question about the Juko-kai and in return a few answers to think about. I am sorry that my question leads to this discussion. If i annoyed someone just let me say i'm sorry about this.

    Regards

    Ruediger Meier

  4. #19
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

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    Looks like E-Budo is OFFICIALLY back!

    Kit

  5. #20
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    Rudeger [u. Mark]

    Gruess di'!

    <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>besser gesagt "Kriege"<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    "...better called [referred to as] "war.""

    Freili', dass is sehr richtig (lachen). Oder, sag' man "Stimmt dass!" ?? I'hab alles vergessen. It's been over 20 years since I was in Germany.

    Anyway... froeli', hertzli' willkommen.

    Berg heil,
    Guy Power



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    Guy H. Power
    http://www.trifox.com/aux/kenshinkan

  6. #21
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    Default Here a Soke, There a Soke, Everywhere a Soke

    Okay, this is more of a language question but as it pertains to Koryu I thought that this was the right place to ask. I was wondering about the exact meaning of the terms Soke and Shihanke in referance to koryu. This comes up from another thread and I was just wondering for my own information. I ask because it seems that Kashima Shinto Ryu counts its Soke back before the formation of their Ryu (coming to the grand total of 64 ). Though I know that the soke is often the holder of the ryu, does one nessaserily count the first soke as the founder of the ryu? If not, when does one start counting.
    Chris Baker.
    From Germany where it has this nasty habit of snowing in April.

  7. #22
    Rob.Boger Guest

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    Chris,

    According to Karl Friday's book, 'Legacies of the Sword,'

    "The Kashima-Shinry ske and shihanke lineages date back nearly five hundred years, but the school as a structured organization is a phenomenon of far more recent origin. During its early years the ryha appears to have had no institutional structure at all, which is one of the reasons that it is so difficult to establish even teacher-student relationships for the first few generations."

    "The first, the ske, or "Founder's House," derives from Matsumoto's student Kunii Kagekiyo, a son of Kagetsugu. This lineage has continued within the Kunii family to the present-day (twenty-first-generation) ske, Kunii Michiyuki. The second line, the shihanke, or "Instructor's House," separated from the ske lineage with Kamiizumi and continued for nine generations, until the eighteenth century, when Kunii Taizen received certifications of mastery from both his fater, Yoshinori, and Ono Shigemasa, the eleventh-gernation shihanke, and merged the two lines."


    According to the book entitled 'Koryu Bujutsu', as edited by Diane Skoss, it lists the following in the glossary of the text:

    Shihanke 'master teacher'
    Ske 'headmaster'

    I'm sure other's can give something better if needed and I hope that helps.


    Sincerely,
    Rob Boger




    [Edited by Rob.Boger on 01-20-2001 at 10:47 PM]

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    Mr. Boger,
    Thanks for your help, but I'm afraid that this leaves me with the same question about the usage of these two words. As stated in the Kashima Shinto Ryu example, it seems that they count the Soke from the very begining of the Family thought the school itself was not founded until the 1500's, many Centuries later. One again, I was wondering if one need count the Soke from the very foundation of the Ryu or, does this word have a meaning that seems to go beyond the Budo context? If the first Soke need not nesaserily refer to the founder of the who, then who would it be refering to? If the word has a context beyond that of budo, what is said context?

    Any one have any thoughts.
    Chris Baker.
    From Germany where it has this nasty habit of snowing in April.

  9. #24
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    "Soke" simply means "main family," and can be used in a wide range of contexts, including arts other than the bugei. In bugei usage, "soke" refers to the founder's house, or to the current heir to the ryuha's formal headship; "shihanke" refers to the designated head instructor, or to a lineage of such instructors. A few traditions, like Kashima-Shinryu, claim dual/parallel lineages stretching way way back; in others shihanke are named in some generations and not in others. Usually (but not always), a shihanke is designated because the titular head of the school is for one reason or another unable to serve as the principal instructor.

    Because "soke" refers to the family lineage, as well as the current headmaster, it's possible for some of the names on the list of "soke" to predate the actual ryuha. It's really just a matter of emphasis and choice on the part of the school--emphasizing the family tradition vs. emphasis on a particularly famous "founder".

    It's best not to get too hung up on terms of this sort, because (like a good bit of Japanese vocabulary) their usage isn't always consistent and their meanings can be fairly amorphous.

    It's also best not to take things like the beginnings of particular ryuha too seriously, since any dates or individuals cited are ultimately fairly arbitrary. The designation of any individual as the founder of a system is really only partly a matter of invention and innovation on the part of the "founder"; it's also a matter of politics and hagiography.

    Bugei training and bugei ryuha did not become heavily formalized until the Tokugawa period. Before that, training for most warriors was an ad hoc mixture of learning from dad and your buddies, picking up on experience and inspiration of your own, plus scattered episodes of more structured coaching, sometimes from famous teachers (kind of like the way kids today learn to play basketball).

    Obviously the "founders" of the various ryuha learned from someone somewhere, and the people who taught *them* must have learned somewhere too. If you want to, you could therefore trace any "school" back as far as you want, which is exactly what some ryuha do, when they speak of origins in the Heian period and such. When historians assert that ryuha bugei began around the 15th century, they mean that that was the point at which enough of the conventions, practices and traditions we now associate with the phenomenon began to appear to justify identifying the start of something new. Obviously, though, at least *some* of the information that defined the "new" ryuha had to have been around before this period--in fact you can follow that regression all the way back to the cavemen.

    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    Thumbs up Thanks

    Thank you Dr Friday. That was exactly what I wanted to know.
    Chris Baker.
    From Germany where it has this nasty habit of snowing in April.

  11. #26
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    Just a minor clarification in case some people reading this thread didn't realize it: Kashima Shinto-ryu and Kashima-Shinryu are two different schools and styles.

    I do have a few questions for Dr. Friday:

    If my memory serves me right, in "Legacies of the Sword", you mention the Jikishinkage-ryu as a school related to Kashima-Shinryu, I think you mentioned that they share a common ancestry as well as many densho. Is that correct?

    Is Jikishinkage-ryu then considered to be a branch of Kashima-Shinryu? Likewise is there any lineal relation between Kashima Shinto-ryu and Kashima-Shinryu and/or Jikishinkage-ryu?

    How would you characterize the main differences of these two other schools, compared to Kashima-Shinryu (either in terms of technical emphasis, philosophic distinctives, or historical context)?

    Finally, thanks Dr. Friday for taking your time to share with us here on e-budo, your insights are always appreciated and add a lot to the discussions here.

    Brently Keen


  12. #27
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    Kashima-Shinryu and Jikishin-kageryu are both branches of what might be called the "Shinkage-ryu family"--the schools that claim substantial connection to Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Nobutsuna. This "family" also includes the Shinkage-ryu, Taisha-ryu, Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, and a handful of others.

    The Kashima-Shinryu and the Kashima Shinto-ryu are not very similar in their contemporary incarnations, although they share some common history. The Kashima-Shinryu
    traces its origins to Matsumoto Bizen-no-kami Masamoto and Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami Hidetsugu. The Kashima Shinto-ryu (actually, there are several ryuha by that name, but one that's better known than the others) derives from Tsukahara Bokuden and Iizasa Choisai. In both technique and history, it's much more closely related to the Katori Shinto-ryu than to KSR, and belongs to what some historians call the Shinto-ryu tradition.

    There is a great deal of confusion as to the actual relationship that held between the four men cited above, and little prospect of ever clarifying things very well. Different ryuha (and each has connections to several) offer different versions of the story, and even "objective" written texts and documents disagree as to who taught whom (for details, see my discussion in *Legacies of the Sword*). It is likely that there was significant cross-fertilization and influence between the two traditions, given that both developed around the same time in the same area, but they
    split off from one another by the mid 1500s and have evolved separately ever since.

    Kashima Shinto-ryu lineage is fairly straight-forward. It has been practiced mostly in Kashima village (now Kashima City), under the auspices of the Yoshikawa family. The Kashima-Shinryu's history is more complex. The modern art is the result of the fusing, in the 18th century, of the
    Shinkage-ryu tradition (which, according to tradition, was heavily influenced by the Kashima martial tradition) into a system (believed to have originated in Kashima) passed down within the Kunii family in northeastern Japan.

    In terms of technique, the most conspicuous difference between KSR and KSTR is that the latter principally manipulates the sword in straight, back-and-forth lines (as does modern Kendo and the majority of Japanese sword traditions), while the former does everything in spirals. A second, immediately apparent difference is that KSTR kata tend to be relatively long and involved, while KSR kata usually consist of just one exchange of techniques.
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    Oops, somehow this post got uploaded twice--sorry 'bout that!

    [Edited by Karl Friday on 01-29-2001 at 03:35 PM]
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

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    No, By all means Keep writing. I'd love to hear more .
    Chris Baker.
    From Germany where it has this nasty habit of snowing in April.

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    Default Here a Soke, There a Soke, Everywhere a Soke

    The Japanese term *ske* seems to generate a great deal of confusion, not just among people who lack Japanese-language skills but among Japanese people themselves. In different contexts the term acquires different meanings and connotations. For this reason, when writing about *ske* in English (or, rather, when arguing about its meaning) it is useful to distinguish the ways that this word has been used in different historical, commercial, legal, and contemporary contexts.

    The expert on this subject is a Japanese scholar named Nishiyama Matsunosuke. A brief English-language summary of his research can be found in the translator's introduction, pages 4--5, to *Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600--1868* (1997; translated by Gerald Groemer; Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press). Detailed explanation can be found in his Japanese-language works: (1) *Iemoto monogatari* (Iemoto stories, 1956; Tokyo: Sangy Keizai Shinbunsha), (2) *Gendai no iemoto* (Contemporary Iemoto, 1962; Tokyo: Kobund), (3) *Iemoto no kenky* (Researches in the Iemoto System, 1982; Tokyo: Yoshikawa Kbunkan). This last book is the classic study in the field. All Japanese scholars who write about *ske* begin with Nishiyama's 1982 study.

    Since classical times in Japan there always have existed families that exercised exclusive commercial control over the production and distribution of certain crafts and manufactured goods. In most cases those families maintained their monopolies through the protection and patronage of local nobles or the royal court. These families operated much like corporations with many branches and other affiliated groups operating together. Even if proper male progeny did not exist economics demanded that the main family line must always continue since the monopoly power rested with that family alone. If necessary, therefore, another male from one of the affiliated groups would be brought in and designated as heir to succeed to the head of the family. The heir, whether related by blood or adopted, was responsible for maintaining the unity of the corporate families, maintaining their commercial monopoly, and maintaining their good relations with their patrons. The main family itself, as a multi-generational entity, and the head of the family both were called *ske*. In Chinese *ske* (*zongjia*) originally referred to the main lineage within a clan that was responsible for maintaining the ancestral temple for the entire clan. In Japan, like China, *ske* assume the filial duties of ancestor rites, but the term implied stronger commercial overtones than religious ones.

    During the Tokugawa period many types of artistic and cultural activities, not just commercial enterprises, came under the domination of familial guilds that exercised monopoly or near-monopoly power over the performance of those arts and endeavors. Actors in Noh or Kabuki theater, practitioners of tea ceremony or flower arranging, performers of musical instruments like *koto* or *shakuhachi*, and participants in many other popular pastimes could learn their crafts or skills only from instructors who had been licensed by one of a very limited number of these familial guilds. Because the familial guilds enjoyed monopolies, they earned money from every single person throughout the entire country who participated in their particular type of craft or art. Gerald Groemer (cited above) neatly summarizes the commercial powers of these familial guilds:

    *quote*

    1. Rights regarding the art --- for example, the right to secrecy, the right to allow or prohibit performances, rights over the repertoire or the set forms (*kata*) of an art.
    2. Rights concerning the teaching, transmission, and licensing of the art.
    3. The right to expel or punish members of the school.
    4. The right to dispose of costumes, ranks (pseudonyms), and the like.
    5. The right to control equipment or properties used in the art.
    6. Exclusive rights to the income resulting from the preceding five items.

    *end quote*

    Let me emphasize that the above rights all were possessed by just one or two or three familial guilds that enforced their rights throughout the entire kingdom. Nishiyama argues that from the mid-18th century on these guilds provided a government-regulated medium for the distribution of cultural knowledge that allowed people assigned to different levels of society (nobles, samurai, lower warriors, townsmen, merchants, wealthy farmers, rural warriors, etc.) to interact with one another on near-equal footing. Historians have labeled the social structures created by the familial guilds the *iemoto seido* (iemoto system). In Tokugawa-period texts the terms *iemoto* and *ske* were used interchangeably. Both words could be used to refer to the main lineage within a guild or to refer to the person who is the current head of that lineage.

    After 1868 when Japan became organized as a modern state, the government formally recognized the legal rights of *iemoto* (a.k.a. *ske*) to control the copyright of all musical scores, theatrical plays, textbooks, and artistic works produced by members of their guilds. In this way the terms *iemoto* and *ske* acquired strict legal definitions. To maintain their copyrights guilds had to register with the government as legal entities. At the same time they lost the ability to enforce commercial monopolies over the teaching and practice of their crafts.

    Before 1868 martial arts never were controlled by an *iemoto* or *ske* structure. This is the reason why there exists so many different schools (*ryha*) of martial arts. Different styles and lineages proliferated because the ruling authorities never would allow any single martial entity to exercise monopoly control throughout the land. In every generation there always existed martial students who broke away to start their own schools with their own secret teachings and their own repertoire of kata. When they issued diplomas they did so by their own authority without paying license fees to any larger organization. In contrast to the wide diversity of martial schools, only a limited number of schools of Noh or Ikebana or Tea Ceremony (etc.) could exist because the monopoly power of the *ske* prevented any rival schools from being created. In short, the ability to found new schools constitutes a repudiation of the *ske* power. If there are new schools, then there is no *ske*. If there is a *ske*, then there are no new schools.

    Osano Jun argues that the first marital art in Japan to adopt a *ske* system was the Kodokan School of judo (see his *Zusetsu Nihon bugei bunka gairon*; Illustrated Overview of Japanese Martial Art Culture, 1994; Tokyo: Fysha). Osano could be right. The Kodokan set the standards not just for members within one training hall in one location but for all participants in judo throughout the nation. The Kodokan defined the art, it controlled licensing and instruction, and it established branch schools that maintain permanent affiliation with the headquarters. If the Kodokan does not recognize something as being "judo," then it is not judo. Therefore, there is no such thing as a new school of judo. All of these elements constitute essential characteristics of traditional *ske* in Tokugawa-period Japan. In actual practice, however, no one ever refers to the Kodokan as the *ske* of judo. The term seems out of place with judo's emphasis on modernity. After analyzing the term in this way Osano goes on to suggest that present-day use of the label *ske* by practitioners of small koryu traditions not only is incorrect but reveals an ignorance of traditional Japanese culture.

    Osano's strict historical understanding probably is too strict. He overlooks the legal changes in the status of *ske* that occurred after 1868. Nowadays no *iemoto* (a.k.a. *ske*) can enforce monopoly control over the practice of their traditions. Anyone can teach tea or flower arranging or anything else whether they licensed by one of the traditional schools or not. In this open environment, the traditional schools distinguish themselves from up-start rivals by pointing out that they constitute the direct heirs to a long familial history (whether fictional or real). *Iemoto* or *ske* simply happen to be the usual terms for designating the main lineage in which a craft or art has been handed down. Therefore these words have become a part of common usage when discussing families who traditionally have possessed a proprietary knowledge of a craft or art. This social or popular use of these terms denotes a historical past, not a present-day commercial or legal monopoly.

    Consider, for example, the case of Kashima-Shinryu. In his books and articles the current head of Kashima-Shinryu, Seki Humitake, uses the label *ske* as a designation for the Kunii family. He uses this term as a way of honoring the role the Kunii family played in preserving Kashima-Shinryu traditions. Down to the time of Seki's teacher, Kunii Zen'ya (1894--1966), Kashima-Shinryu had for a long time been passed down from father to son from one generation of the Kunii family to the next. The modern use of the label *ske* simply acknowledges that legacy. In the writings of Kunii Zen'ya and in the scrolls preserved within the Kunii family, however, the word *ske* cannot be found. Kunii Zen'ya never referred to himself or to his family as the as the *ske* of Kashima-Shinryu. He simply signed his name. In writing out copies of the old scrolls (these copies would be handed out as diplomas), though, he usually would add the words "Kunii-ke sden" before the title of the scroll. For example, if he copied an old scroll titled "kenjutsu mokuroku" he give it the title "Kunii-ke soden kenjutsu mokuroku." In this example, the original title simply means "kenjutsu curriculum" while the longer version means "the 'kenjutsu curriculum' transmitted within the Kunii family." Used in this sense of "transmitted within a family" the term *ske* seems perfectly reasonable. Of course it is not meant to imply the existence of some kind of commercial monopoly.

    Now, I would be the last one to condone the use of obscure Japanese terminology to describe American social practices for which perfectly acceptable English words already exist. I cannot imagine how any non-Japanese could call himself a "soke" except as a joke. At the same time I must say that I cannot regard this term with any special reverence either. During the Tokugawa-period *ske* designated a commercial system of hereditary privilege that took advantage of the ignorance of ordinary people for financial gain. Perhaps teachers of commercial martial art schools in America who adopt the title "soke" for themselves are more historically accurate in their usage than they themselves realize.
    William Bodiford
    Professor
    Dept. of Asian Languages & Cultures
    UCLA

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