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Thread: Why in Detail

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh Reyer View Post
    Depends on the question. If you want detailed answers, it helps to ask detailed questions.
    Fair enough.

    It would appear that lienage holds the foundation of history. The identification of martial arts in charecter. Can any martial artists actually do away with lineage?
    Richard Scardina

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Taylor View Post
    It suddenly occurs to me that even though I have a lineage that goes back to before 1600 (according to the records) I have trained with the last two generations and that's it. I have not trained with all those teachers back to 1600 so what's the point of claiming them as progenitors?

    Really, we train with the last guy in the line, not the first, so lineage or not, our training depends on the abilities of the last guy in line.

    Kim.
    Lineage is important in Japanese culture on a whole. Koryu, and I assume that is what we are talking about here in this forum, comes from a time when linage was very important culturally. Historical or current, these people are part of our nakama, and the nakama - the group- is a pillar of Japanese culture. If we divorce ourselves from that, what we are doing becomes more gendai and less koryu. To a great degree, our participation in koryu arts is about preservation of something very important. Lineage is part of the oral/written tradition of a koryu system. Our brothers and sisters in the various Ryu thought it was important enough to know it, so should we.

    It might be less important to gendai systems depending greatly upon the how "traditional" the system is, depending on what degree Japanese culture is stressed in the training, and in which culture we are training.
    Thom James

  3. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by T. J. View Post
    Lineage is important in Japanese culture on a whole. Koryu, and I assume that is what we are talking about here in this forum, comes from a time when linage was very important culturally. Historical or current, these people are part of our nakama, and the nakama - the group- is a pillar of Japanese culture. If we divorce ourselves from that, what we are doing becomes more gendai and less koryu. To a great degree, our participation in koryu arts is about preservation of something very important. Lineage is part of the oral/written tradition of a koryu system. Our brothers and sisters in the various Ryu thought it was important enough to know it, so should we.

    It might be less important to gendai systems depending greatly upon the how "traditional" the system is, depending on what degree Japanese culture is stressed in the training, and in which culture we are training.
    TJ, that was a great post. Thanks!
    Richard Scardina

  4. #19
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    At the risk of being brusque, this whole thread centers on what seems like a rather silly question--or rather, a question that derives from some rather strange premise(s). It might be more profitable to be debating about how lineage could possibly not matter.

    As far as I can imagine things, there are only four basic reasons someone might study a martial art at all:

    1) As a means to self-defense and fighting skills

    2) As a means to the broader kinds of self-development wrapped up in the budo ideal

    3) As a means of maintaining contact with the living past--being a part of living history

    4) Because it's fun to play with sword or spear or whatever

    If your interests are 1 or 4, lineage probably doesn't mean much--if anything at all. Then again, why bother with a teacher at all for 4--you could just as easily make things up yourself or copy moves from movies--and why bother to study anything (except possibly jujutsu) in the koryu syllabus if your primary interest is in 1 (other than as the first step toward 2)? How often are sword, spear, or naginata skills likely to come in handy?

    If your motivation is largely 3, on the other hand, there's little room to even ask questions about the importance of lineage. What could be more important, in that context?

    And if you're after goal number 2, the importance of lineage and legitimacy is almost as obvious. In this context, lineage and legitimacy assure that you're involved with the real process, rather than a knock off--in traditional metaphors, that you're following an established path that does lead to the top of the mountain, rather than one that's new and untried. That's not to say, of course, that new paths can't be found (or cut), or that the well-documented koryu have some monopoly on The Way. But if you're following a guide who's blazing a new trail, the only way you can be surethat he's headed in the right direction is if you already know the terrain yourself--in which case, why would you need the guide?

    The bottom line, I would argue, is that if you're not concerned about issues like lineage and legitimacy, then your interests aren't really in koryu at all; they're in something else. Not, to borrow a line from Jerry Seinfeld, that there's anything wrong with that, but the koryu phenomenon and the appeal thereof is pretty much defined by questions of lineage and legitimacy.
    Karl Friday
    Dept. of History
    University of Georgia
    Athens, GA 30602

  5. #20
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    And upon Dr. Friday's note, I think that about sums it up. I've been a bit tired of Mr. Scardina's posts for a while but let these go since inane questions sometimes lead to very good responses out of irritation to the questions. This was one of those situations.

    Thread closed.

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