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Thread: Koryu curriculums - how much stretch possible?

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    Default Koryu curriculums - how much stretch possible?

    Background to my question:
    On a different forum a question was raised about Tameshigiri in Iai. Actually it was about the reasons behind why not doing Tameshigiri (as it's the case in certain Iai koryu).

    I replied along the lines that even if e.g. Tameshigiri was removed from an official curriculum it may still be up to the individual (high-ranking sensei) to train it privately.

    I wonder now if my assumption is correct or not and if someone may even have examples (without mentioning any names...).

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    Seems to me that people, even koryu shihans, are people with a certain amount of free will, and can do what they please.

    The question is whether or not what they do in the off-hours constitutes the ryu itself. I.e. if a practitioner decides to try test-cutting, is that "within" or "not within" the context of the art?

    There can't be a fixed answer to that. Ryu by ryu, there will be a variation in how change is handled and who has the authority to add or subtract things from the curriculum.

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    my guess is that even in ryu that 'ban' it, students will still sneak off behind your back and have a go anyway...
    It's almost like having to prove to yourself that you can cut properly and it isnt all just dancing around saying you are a proper swordsman etc... I think most people on here will have had a go at it at some point... and if not, wouldn't turn down the chance if offered...
    Tim Hamilton

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    Also, I think taking the ryu's view on it is taking something a little out of context.

    If you were a practicing bushi in pre-Edo Period Japan, your experience with the sword would not be limited to your time spent practicing under a specific ryu.

    Surely people wanting to train in a specifc ryu didn't walk through the door never having held a sword before (as is frequently the case today).

    So one would have had ample opportunity to practice a variety of skills outside the ryu. If a ryu banned tameshigiri (or randorii for that matter), were they not banning it *on their time*?

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    Ben Macarthur

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    If a ryu banned tameshigiri (or randorii for that matter), were they not banning it *on their time*?
    No. Edo period ryu had kisshomon, which were specific stipulations on what was allowed and what was not. Many had specific rules against competition (shiai, duels, what have you) by their students (usually, "until you have received menkyo " or the like). Most competitive training took place under the auspices of the dojo - not outside it, and entertaining challenges was done under the teacher's authority (if, for no other reason, doing whatever was necessary to not have the school shamed - thereby losing one's business, as well as containing such competition in a way that didn't threaten social order).
    Beyond that, if your teacher said, for example, "Tamishigiri is a useless practice . . . " profound cultural strictures would inhibit you going against what the teacher said. (FWIW, the modern "sport" of tamishigiri did not exist until modern times. I doubt that it, specifically, was forbidden. It was something that people probably did with much the same gravitas as doing suburi - except, I assume, far less often).
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    Ellis Amdur

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    Default Gris

    Although this is still a grey are regardless as to how you view the history of Japanese reigi in relation to JSA. There couldn't have been an exhaustive and comprehensive list of do's and don't's with any ryu. I'm sure there wasn't one that said that one must not do Suburi when there are seagulls squawking for example.

    There may well have been some, if not many, who might have stipulated that tameshigiri was forbidden but I'm sure there were many that made no such defined stipulations. Where there is no restriction there must have been some personal freedom.

    I am also interested in this question for modern iaido development, it is interesting to consider where the limits of auxiliary and cross training might exist. For example, I am an MSR student and through being involved with MJER seminars have picked up quite a lot of this sister style. I don't consider that I cross train really as I don't regularly practice MJER or go to a dojo or a sensei for that teaching but I do make an effort to consider the MJER kata, have a bit of a go with them and compare them to their MSR equivalents. I guess this also a grey area and one can only decide if they are one side of a grey channel or the other.

    I am pretty sure that MSR does not contain tameshigiri in it's defined curriculum but I still brought some down for our guys to have a go and get a feel for cutting something. This hasn't made a change to our curriculum because I can count the number of targets I have cut on one hand - it was in essence a bit of interesting fun.

    Anyway, that's enough rambling...
    Andy Watson

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    Well my take on it as a Yudansha in both Iaido and Batto is that they are different wheels of the cart. Batto requires tremendous hip generation to do it correctly. You can teach someone to cut through target in 20 minutes but it wont be projected from the hips. Its not technically correct. When I started batto it was fresh start. Like anything else it takes years of cutting to get it right

    Associations are well aware of this fact. Now and again some facets of one part slip into the other. Some years ago the ZNKR are requesting all Kendo instructors to do Iai. Batto tries kendo with live blades etc.

    I would expect the general opinion from the top to rightly be, "Dont we already have enough to do? Most people as it is just do ipponme and get little chance to do anything else. My old iai go into the mountains once a year to do tameshigiri./ Ivariably someone gets injured and "always" they bend swords. Iai blades are for iai Tameshigiri blades for just that.

    Add to that the constant effort to get away from "cutting things" since the WW2. To some it puts over the wrong image
    Hyakutake Colin

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    Quote Originally Posted by ryoma View Post
    Background to my question:
    On a different forum a question was raised about Tameshigiri in Iai. Actually it was about the reasons behind why not doing Tameshigiri (as it's the case in certain Iai koryu).

    I replied along the lines that even if e.g. Tameshigiri was removed from an official curriculum it may still be up to the individual (high-ranking sensei) to train it privately.

    I wonder now if my assumption is correct or not and if someone may even have examples (without mentioning any names...).
    Invariably your high ranking sensei was probably doing tameshigiri before he did iai.
    Hyakutake Colin

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    Thank you very much for all your inputs!

    @hyaku: It was just a hypothetical question from me, not referring to a specific sensei.

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    Default to cut or not to cut ,

    Hello everyone,

    I am always surprised to see how passionate some people get (this thread not included of course) when dealing with this type of question (to cut or not to cut... ?), especially with beginners whom always seem to have definite answers about everything (including the !My sensei (whom freshly pass his shodan) said if you cut, you very very bad !... )...

    Anyway, I am not sure my comment is dead on the topic, but to put things in perspective (at least for me) last year during a iai ZNKR seminar in Paris, Ogura sensei (reallllly impressive iai... and one of the big head in the ZNKR if I am not mistaken) mentioned to the 3rd-4th dan group, that when training in iai you are considered a beginner up until 5th dan included (it was very interesting to watch the various reactions to that statement . During that time you are kind of supposed to just follow your sensei without losing too much focus on other !stuff! (he was talking about other ryus in this particular example). On the other hand, when you become renshi, you get some freedom to go fish around, including to visit other sensei and ryu to widen your view of the discipline and of your skills. So as Ryoma mentioned in his original post, high ranking sensei seem !today! to actually be prompted to reach outside of their curriculum to increase their own knowledge.

    Again !today! for us beginner, if you don't act like a jerk (!hey sensei, today I brought some targets to cut, lets do this instead of training!), stay humble (!look what I can cut..), and not making a bad habit of it (otherwise just join another dojo), it should be a !bit of interesting fun! to quote Andy .

    That being said, the way most of us outside Japan (actually even in Japan in many instances) are training is far from the ideal picture of the tiny dojo up in the mountain with old and wise sensei guiding your steps since you were born (did I say ideal... ?). If you have the chance to cross train once in a while with proficient sensei (proficient being key here), why not do it... how many 7th or 8th dan (or menkyo for that matter) outside of Japan ? If I see one and can train a bit with him, why not ? As a 3rd dan, I don't think I 'm gonna rock much my training and even less my ryu by attempting couple of cuts...

    Unless you really have strict rules in your dojo (I know a couple of them out there), !trying! something new, even as a beginner should not be taken as a personal offence by your sensei, and !banning! should not be an issue

    But maybe I am not disciplined enough...

    I'll do 1000 suburis for writing too much nonsense!
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    Stephan Naji
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    5th dan is about right.... by then you are technically somewhere near the requirements, and need to start moving on... it is accepted practise/thought in Japan that godans get the 'wander lust' for other ryu and start having a dabble at other dojos to see if they can pick up other things.... If their sensei is good enough, they will realise after a while that he is all they really need, but the high level sensei will allow this, not junior 'insecure' (? maybe not the right word) teachers who may be frightened that their students will not come back. I follow this practise and get my students to watch other people and styles.
    Tim Hamilton

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    @Chidokan
    I think you used the right word, "insecure", sounds about right from what I have seen...
    Stephan Naji
    iaido/jodo...and now...kendo!

    "JFDI"

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