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Thread: Seminars and koryu kenjutsu

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    Default Seminars and koryu kenjutsu

    This thread was prompted by the "Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu in WV" thread.

    I thought it was interesting that what seemed like a koryu art was holding a seminar that was intended for non-practitioners to come and "try out" the ryu and its techniques. The strange thing to me here is that it did not appear to require any prior or ongoing commitment to the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu. Is this correct?

    I know that different koryu have a wide variety of opinions and procedures on teaching 'outsiders', or even just on sharing information. Some shun it, others embrace it, and I suppose some others turn a blind eye or are unaware of it. So I'm not meaning to imply criticism of the TSSJGR on its practices in this instance

    But I am interested to get a discussion happening on whether this happens with other koryu. With your koryu, dear reader? Which arts do it regularly and why? What part do a) copyright, b) secrecy and c) fear of contamination play in this?

    b

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    I have heard of seminars cropping up all over the world, and I myself have participated in a seminar on Niten Ichi Ryu twice. There will be another such seminar coming up in August, also featuring Kage ryu. These are two old, well-respected koryu. In Eastern Canada, (Guelph, Ontario) there is or was an annual seminar with representatives of several different koryu, bringing in various sensei from Japan. No previous experience necessary. I never had an opportunity to make it out, but I was always pleased that such a thing was happening.
    James Lyall

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    Hey Ben,
    Seminars have actually become pretty common in the U.S. They are a convenient way to help pay for an event, and to give a small sample of a koryu. If your dojo is bringing a senior instructor over from Japan for a week, having a large open seminar one day goes a long way toward helping to pay for his lodging and travel costs, as well as exposing potential students to what it is you are doing. I've personally attended seminars in MJER iaido, SMR iaido, Sekiguchi ryu, Ono Ha Itto ryu, Mugai ryu, Suio ryu, and Toyama ryu. Some of these have been a short "sampling" of the ryu, on the order of an hour and a half or so. However, some of them have been very intensive all day affairs like the one offered by Jigen ryu.

    As far as my experiences go, there is a certain point that instruction in seminars doesn't cross. I joined the Shin Shin Sekiguchi ryu, and learned a lot more than is ever taught in open seminars. When I had to withdraw from Sekiguchi ryu (damn knees!), I joined Mugai ryu and found the same thing to be true. It is impossible to learn the inner workings of an art from open seminars, but they are very interesting. I've never failed to learn things of value to my own practice whenever I've had the opportunity to attend a seminar with a highly experienced instructor. Myself, I've really enjoyed getting an opportunity to experience how other ryu do things.
    Paul Smith
    "Always keep the sharp side and the pointy end between you and your opponent"

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    The first koryu seminar I attended was in 1983. The first koryu seminar I organized was in 1987 and I've been organizing them ever since.

    Never was it suggested that anything be withheld or modified for students in the seminar since all the seminars were intended for people who planned to continue on in the various arts.

    These things take care of themselves, beginners aren't going to be learning any secrets even if those "secrets" are spelled out for them. The only real secret is that it takes 20 years to start learning the really juicy stuff, and the really juicy stuff is in the kihon you practiced the very first day of the very first seminar you ever attended.

    Of course, beginners won't believe that, and neither will students who have less than 15-20 years practice in, they are all still waiting for the secret stuff to be whispered in their ear.

    Kim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlyall View Post
    There will be another such seminar coming up in August, also featuring Kage ryu. These are two old, well-respected koryu.
    Sorry for the thread drift, but I'm very curious as to what branch of Kage Ryu this will be. If you are referring to the parent art of Shinkage Ryu, I was under the impression that it had died out in the late 1800's. I'd be very curious to hear about an extant branch.
    David Sims

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    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DDATFUS View Post
    Sorry for the thread drift, but I'm very curious as to what branch of Kage Ryu this will be. If you are referring to the parent art of Shinkage Ryu, I was under the impression that it had died out in the late 1800's. I'd be very curious to hear about an extant branch.
    http://calgaryiaidoclub.net/summer%2...ar%202010.html

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    Thanks Kim.

    David -- what he said.
    James Lyall

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    D'oh

    I can't believe that I forgot about the Kage Ryu that Hyakutake practices; goodness knows that I've read his website plenty of times.
    David Sims

    "Cuius testiculos habes, habeas cardia et cerebellum." - Terry Pratchet

    My opinion is, in all likelihood, worth exactly what you are paying for it.

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    Interesting replies. Paul, yours especially helps explain the rationale for such seminars. Of course through the kendo renmei here we have iaido and jodo seminars all the time, but these are usually seitei based and the related koryu component in the iai and jo would be for advanced participants only. The assumption is that you are there because you are a practitioner already. Prospective students are more likely to join a beginner's course first.

    We once had some kendo sensei come for a seminar who were also advanced members of Noda-ha NTIR and they performed the Goho no kata, but that was a demo only.

    b

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    One thing to consider with such seminars is that they are less about the ryu as they are about the teacher coming. The idea being that the highly experienced teacher, usually a menkyo kaiden level, has something to offer people in terms of perspective and conceptual theory that might benefit even non-practitioners of that ryu. It strikes me that usually the hosts of such seminars tend to be gendai budo dojo, be that karate, aikido, or iaido, that are open to a variety of influences.

    This would not apply, of course, to seminars like the ones Kim mentions, that are organized by practitioners of a ryu for practitioners of a ryu. In those cases, it's a matter of giving long-distance students some hands-on time with the soke or other high level practitioners.
    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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    Like you Josh I was more of the impression that it was mostly gendai budo schools who did this kind of 'cross training'.

    OTOH I wouldn't consider it 'cross-training' for any of the Hayashizaki-descendant koryu (MSR, MJER, Hoki, Mugai, Suio, etc) to, um, check in (?) with each other as I imagine both the similarities and differences between them would be instructive for individuals of each ryu.

    But in my limited experience it would seem a stretch for anyone to take anything meaningful away from a one-day worskhop in one of the really distinct koryu like Jikishikage Ryu, TSKSR or Jigen Ryu (to name just three). A really interesting case in point would be Kuroda Tetsuzan's various family ryu which all seem to have a very distinct movement style, unlike any other koryu. And yet he seems to pop up everywhere doing demos and releasing DVDs. He's very popular. I'm curious as to who is actually practicing his style(s). It certainly seems that a lot of people would like to, but that there isn't much chance of that happening unless you live in Japan. So are people just doing workshops and watching videos? Thing is, you'd have a hard time studying his Tamiya Ryu Iaijutsu plus just about any other kind of iai concurrently without contamination. Same goes for his kenjutsu.

    More questions than answers as usual...

    b

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    ...But in my limited experience it would seem a stretch for anyone to take anything meaningful away from a one-day worshop in one of the really distinct koryu...
    Darn, guess I've been wasting my time. So, if the soke' of a rare koryu, along with the designated heir of the style and several senior teachers, offer to share some of their history, philosophy and technique, that is unlikely to be worthwhile? Sorry, I'm with Paul. I attended the Jigen Ryu seminar and plan on attending the next one. It was amazing, enlightening, and fun. Have attended an Ono Ha Itto Ryu seminar with Sasamori soke that was phenomenal. And a number of other seminars with senior folk from various styles. Always good, always worthwhile, IMO. There aren't many people in the world with that level of experience, knowledge and skill. If they come to town, or anywhere close, and are generous enough to share, I'd recommend going. It is not about mastering the ryu.

    Dave
    Last edited by socho; 31st March 2010 at 02:22.
    Dave Drawdy
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    I'm inclined to agree with Mssrs. Smith and Drawdy. It is always interesting to see how other folks do things and the concepts within their tradition.
    David F. Craik

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    On reflection I think it's a sign of where I am in my own koryu studies (near the beginning), and the fact that it is such a large curriculum, that I wouldn't feel right going to a workshop by another koryu. I can't see it being useful for me at all. Fun, yes. Interesting, yes.

    I dunno. I'm still pinching myself that I can learn a sogo bujutsu in my hometown at all. And I just hate the thought of hearing people say stuff like, "that's great, but in my style we do that move like this. Don't you think that makes more sense?" and suchlike. You know there's always one at every seminar...

    b

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    I think the teachers who are willing to get on a plane to the Americas or Europe to teach a brief workshop about their art to a bunch of Aikido, Karate, or Iaido people have the following characteristics:

    1) They don't care if the attendees take little fragments, usually totally wrong, of what they learned and repeat them, badly, for the rest of their lives, saying the whole time, "this is the way they cut in X Ryu."

    2) They seem to want recognition and awareness of their ryu. Perhaps they want recognition and awareness of themselves also, but there has got to be a pride in the ryu and a desire to show it off.

    I think for seminars like the Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu seminars and the Ono Ha Itto Ryu seminars in NJ in 2008 and DC in 2007, the best things you can get out of them are a chance to talk to an exponent about the history and philosophy of his ryu. Just because these things are interesting in and of themselves, and this is very novel information that you can't get anywhere else. A general overview of how the ryu thinks could also be interesting to a practitioner of another art.

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