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Thread: Adapting Koryu

  1. #16
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    To beat the dead horse bloody, my last post I think points to why I have so much passion on this subject.

    I think that for the kinds of circumstances described (foreknowledge of the threat, ability to tactically deploy and communicate prior to arrival) LE does a pretty good job of training its folks. We do pretty good for when we have the initiative, the scene is relatively controlled, and the like...

    Where I think that things like kogusoku might inform LE is in when things don't go so well, and when the officer is ambushed, jumped, behind the curve, looses initiative, etc.

    I think this because the "go-to" choice is now basically taking purely sportive methods (MMA, BJJ these days), or a limited, dueling format, low impact weapons base (FMA), and adopting them to law enforcement: with little contextually based adaptation.

    A very close quarters, weapons environment based, and reactionary behind-the-curve weapons access/transition based methodology just makes more contextual sense than either sport grappling or armed dueling methods. And since that is already within the most commonly encountered distances it would seem to offer a lot in survival circumstances.

    Provided a force on force and decision making component was included as a strong element.

    I firmly believe that the vast majority of even police survival training is simply not preparing officers for this kind of thing. Lakewood still reverberates up here in Washington State, and I must say in particular with me because of these beliefs/ideas, and a failure to address the problem realistically.

  2. #17
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    I don't think it is such a bad idea to beat this dead horse bloody honestly. The reminder is very important to LEO and also just as useful for the civilian budo students. Beat away Kit, beat away!
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Here's my personal two cents.

    There are two things that motivated me from the outset to find my way into koryu training:

    A) I wanted a deep connection to Japan's past. In particular, I wanted to train in a way that was founded by a guy who lived that kind of life in that age.

    B) I wanted to gain proficiency with antique, Japanese weapons.

    I don't think you can take koryu away from these things, they are roots.

    But what keeps me training is the process of 1) learning the proper form 2) repeating it endlessly 3) ?. And that training process, I think, can actually be abstracted from the roots of Japanese warrior tradition and medieval weapons practice.

    Furthermore, I don't think the goal of any koryu was ever something as simple as producing a technically proficient fighting person. I think the essence of any koryu is something very abstract, like a "modality of consciousness," that enables a well-trained practitioner to meet and handle any type of situation with the spirit of the ryu, whether its on the streets or in a conference room.

  4. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post

    A) I wanted a deep connection to Japan's past. In particular, I wanted to train in a way that was founded by a guy who lived that kind of life in that age.
    But how much a connection to the past is it if it has continued to "live" and been changed over the years? It may not be much like what the guy who founded it actually founded....

    Not that this a bad thing with a living tradition because...

    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    .... what keeps me training is the process of 1) learning the proper form 2) repeating it endlessly 3) ?. And that training process, I think, can actually be abstracted from the roots of Japanese warrior tradition...
    Quote Originally Posted by Cliff Judge View Post
    Furthermore, I don't think the goal of any koryu was ever something as simple as producing a technically proficient fighting person. I think the essence of any koryu is something very abstract, like a "modality of consciousness," that enables a well-trained practitioner to meet and handle any type of situation with the spirit of the ryu, whether its on the streets or in a conference room.
    And that is really the crux of this discussion.

    On Wayne Muromoto's blog he has an interesting post. A comment he made resonated with me in light of this discussion

    wmuromoto

    Anna, I saw your post. Interesting start, and I’m hopeful that you’ll offer more insights into koryu for the academic world to make it a legitimate field of study. Draeger and the hoplology group he instigated was one way of looking at koryu, but there are other ways to approach it, academically. I tend to look at the practice of koryu from the eyes of an artist, as an art form, since my own training is as an artist. But anthropologists, sociologists, behaviorists, historians, philosophers…they can all look at koryu and see different things, as if we were the proverbial blind men trying to describe an elephant.
    –Wayne
    I like your Modality of Consciousness comment: especially about adapting to any situation. It reminds me of some of the stuff that Draeger was writing about in the early IHS material. Not in terms of hoplological study and budo/bujutsu and whatnot, but in terms of mental training, etc. I have revisited that and found that he was talking about a lot things that are coming back in the form of Force Science and the like, but with him it was the result of training in koryu and the worldview that it is founded upon, though perhaps rarely trained today.

    Part of that discussion was the whole emic/etic thing: but emic pretty much stopped at someone practicing a tradition and commenting on it from the inside. A deeper order of emic may in fact be someone practicing a tradition (a given) and applying it in a similar context for which it was intended.
    Last edited by Hissho; 7th February 2012 at 16:56.

  5. #20
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    So, continuing on: when I referred to Draeger's early writing I mean the stuff he was talking about with fudoshin, zanshin, suki, and the like, and the training process and how it either developed those things in the case of the former and worked against it in the case of the latter. Pure "classical force science" stuff.

    How does that relate to kata and to Force on Force and to what we might understand from the modern perspective?

    Well - and pointing back to Wayne's article linked above - for the dilettante practitioner (I like that) - it won't practically relate at all.

    For the truly serious practitioner that is properly trained it relates a great deal.

    Folks writing about Draeger have talked about his presence, his intent, when he was doing kata. We all know you can watch the same kata from the same ryu done by different people and see radically different things going on, not technically but in terms of the intent, sometimes independent of the level of experience or the rote technical skill of the practitioner.

    The pressure that such intent presents to the partner is a critical thing in what I am talking about here, it is both psychological and physical, and is the beginning of "stress inoculation" with the early stages of kata and it is the end of that process when the kata is broken and a more dynamic and open ended practice ensues.

    I was always taught with this pressure, and that things are supposed to open up like that, pretty quickly after the basics of a kata were learned. I have talked at length with others on this, and lessons in another ryu whave been shared with me by some of my CQC students as related to Force on Force training having to do with a close gunfight that we work on. Some of the folks were having stumbling blocks dealing with how to move on a threat, how to deal with them with presence and voice commands, etc. and the drivers I was talking about were put in, for them, more concrete terms of sen and kiai and Kizeme.


    Starting with the simple- the uncomfortable "eye contact" and personal space - up to the potential pain penalty of working more and more quickly with hard wooden weapons, even rote kata - done with that pressure - can be made increasingly more challenging by an experienced uke who keeps ramping up the pressure.

    Common knowledge, if maybe not common practice, in koryu.

    Until this pressure actually happens, you actually are not training anything other than rote movement and technique. If you are at that level in terms of personal practice (thinking about the actual technique, how your body is organized and re-organizing in the interplay of the action; how to generate force; move your feet; how to hold your weapon; how to manipulate your weapon....so on) you will not be able to learn to deal with pressure effectively and the only reason it "works" is because it is a kata and the other guy does what he is supposed to do. That is very low level practice in terms of force on force and psychologically it is referred to as an "internal focus."

    If that is ALL you ever do, foot position, how to move your body and weapon, etc. or worse - worried about what it "looks" like ("you'll get marked down if your foot is turned out two degrees at that angle..."), then what you are actually doing is internally focussed beginning training. You can do this for twenty years, but if you never move beyond this to the external focus on the situation and the environment you are still practicing in a manner suited to only to rank beginners.

    This applies to an "internal" focus on the uke as well, which is also bad: getting tangled up in how he is moving, what he is doing, etc. For kata this would simply going through the motions because you 'know' he is going to do XYZ next. This would be stopping the kata because he did something different than what he was supposed to do....

    And patterning things like that can get you killed in real life.

    Patterning them properly - through kata training that is "alive" and with partners who can provide this pressure - can save your life.

    I believe it did mine.
    Last edited by Hissho; 7th February 2012 at 18:07.

  6. #21
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    Drawing this to a conclusion -

    Where I think the practice applies is not necessarily in the technique.

    However, it appears that this is where many people practicing today seem to go - the technicalities, the fact that a soke may change something, the fact that a different line does something slightly differently, whether one's feet are in idori ('live") or seiza ("dead"),the slight turn of a blade etc.

    Probably nothing new - we are told tales of warriors surging forward to witness a duel or fight about to happen between exponents of other ryu to get a look at what techniques they do or what exactly X-ryu's Tsukikage looks like.... Or the hubbub surrounding Sasaki's "swallow cut" in light of the fight with Musashi....

    Then there are the tales of the guy that knew nothing, never really studied the ryu, and yet had inured themselves to the thought of their death - getting brushed a menkyo kaiden on the spot, with the "you've learned the highest teaching already, there is nothing I can teach you..."

    Probably apocryphal but speaking to the more important aspect; its not in the techniques. Its in how you practice them.

    (Not to say that it is not important,traditional or modern times, to have technical skill. Some people have on the flip side gone so far down the primrose path of "principle based" that many have found they have mastered principles and yet still can't fight. I have watched it in person several times and it is not pretty.)

    I think that what is supposed to be offered in a truly intense, seriously committed practice is exactly what was termed that "meeting with death." It was an "in person" way to practice the idea of "saving your life by throwing it away." One wonders whether the later writers who expounded on that whole death thing were already misunderstanding what their forebears meant...

    Not a literal death, because it was training. Only people who haven't experienced the real thing would consider training the same thing. But today we can see via scientific research that the stressors the body goes through in intensive training mimic the same kinds of things you experience in combat.

    Therefore, it was in the same sense of conditioning yourself to deal with potential pain and injury, yet keep your wits about you and do what you are supposed to do. This inoculatesyou (in quality training, that is...) to learn to do this when it IS real.

    Then, after you've done it a few times for real you bring the lessons back and it informs your training so you can get to higher levels, and progress cyclically like that.

    Why is this important? There is that pressure again.

    I revisit the discussion above regarding naginata maai to draw comparisons in when it would be totally valid.....

    Encounter 1:

    Say an officer steps out on a call with a knife wielding subject.The man is clearly agitated and his intent is now directed at the officer. He has just murdered his family, and is resolved to suicide by cop, but intends to take as many officers with him as possible. This man is pure intent, and is committed to throwing his life away.

    This is in real life a tremendous force multiplier, and makes even the unskilled highly dangerous adversaries. In particular because he has psyched up and prepped himself and officer has gone in relatively cold.

    So, now the officer defaults to training. If he is a typical cop, he has received a relatively weak physical base and a rather nebulous treatment of something called "mindset" that many trainers have simply tossed out there as something he needs to have when it is real. There has been very little actual work or progress on how to identify what that kind of mindset or intent looks like and little or no practice on how to manifest it or actually train for it.

    So, this officer might immediately go into an internal state: can I handle this, how did my gun just get in my hand? I hope I am good enough...?....oh, crap he sees me! He's charging toward me? Why would he do that doesn't he see I have gun??!??? What was that stupid Rule thing, how close does he have to get? Oh man I don't want to have to sh....god I shot him!!!! I shot him!!! I shot him!!!!

    He is having a difficult time controlling the adrenal dump he is experiencing because he spends so little time practicing in any meaningful adrenalized context, his breathing and heart rate have spiked and he is not used to feeling that way and it is frightening.

    This internal mind state will likely be accompanied by obvious physical manifestations of great stress, backpedaling, uncertainty and unsure movement, a clear lack of recognition of danger based on interval (maai) and initiative (charging subject), a high pitched, even unintelligible screaming because the vocal chords are fine motor skills and he has done little practice with vocalization and breathing under dynamic stress, and a marked lack of intent directed at the threat, with perhaps a shying away, partial turning away, staccato movement....

    This all reads to our motivated man with the knife as "PREY." And we know the classic bushi saying....the "weak are meat, the strong eat."


    The picture should already be obvious to most people, but to paint the eyes on the dragon....

    Encounter 2:

    Instead our officer is very highly trained. He gets some force on force in his regular work, but mostly the SWAT team gets that so he gets limited exposure and its usually pretty basic due to some other officers having trouble with it every year.

    But he has been receiving quality training in a koryu for a number of years, alongside a few other very intense practitioners including a special forces Afghanistan vet, and they have seriously worked on this element of their practice...

    He instantly recognizes that he has a motivated subject full of malevolent intent. He has seen enough of that pattern both through his work, but also it has been modelled for him in his training by people who know what that looks like. This is not the kind of guy he is going to be talking to or negotiating with....he is aware of the potential threat the knife presents, but has trained against edged weapons, and he is also aware that he has a very high chance of survival even if he does get cut....

    His weapon appears in his hand without conscious effort, and he has ingrained his handgun skills as often if not more than his koryu practice. He has also thought a lot about some of the kata he does in the dojo and considered what he would do if he were faced with a similar weapon in the real world, and how he might engage with his firearm.

    He feels the adrenal dump but he's pushed his physical limits with intense training and he has felt this feeling before - many times - and it is no longer incapacitating it is in fact empowering.

    He barks a command to drop the weapon! It is deep and clear and has the penetrating character of the kiai that he has practiced so often. His posture is upright, his gaze is piercing and serious and...calm, rather than a wide eyed, teeth bared, dog-in-fear action.

    This last action causes the man with the knife to hesitate just a moment...wait a minute, that guy means business! He's serious! He probably actually will kill me...

    In that moment of hesitation the officer has moved off his initial line, gained some distance and more time to focus on a good shot. He barks a command again but can tell that the hesitation is momentary, its actually just like one of the kata especially when his buddy the vet does it and tries to sucker him in that one move..... so he is already taking the slack out of the trigger and moving his weapon into his eye line. He is moving smoothly, he appears to be stalking game (indeed it has become that...), his hips level even on the rough terrain which has the added benefit of minimizing the bounce of his handgun sights as he is driving the weapon toward the subject as if it was a spear.

    And the man charges! The officer knew it and retains his predator posture, rather than shying away or flinching at the subject's ferocious approach. Indeed there is a instant that the subject closes his eyes and drops his head ever so slightly- he KNOWS he is going to be shot, his intention has wavered a brief instant and in that instant the officer is utterly free of the pressure of the incoming threat and gets the sight picture he needs for a center mass hit.....

    And the officer is left standing. He maintains cover on the suspect, who is writhing around on the ground still screaming, knife still in hand, and still a very active threat. He orders him again to drop the knife. He gets on the radio and in a controlled manner radios that shots are fired, that he is okay, that a suspect is down and that he needs medical response. Everyone on the radio hears him and instead of the pandemonium that sometimes erupts when a fellow officer is screaming "shots fired" on the radio, people are amped, but they are responding more calmly because they know their fellow officer is okay and he sounded like he had everything under control.


    Inspired in part by Ellis' story of the SMR jo guy's shooting in Hawaii....
    Last edited by Hissho; 7th February 2012 at 22:23.

  7. #22
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    Since this thread is about adapting koryu I have been thinking about the history of jujutsu outside of Japan. Because I believe adapting koryu began way earlier in the USA and Europe.
    The early Japanese teachers in Europe and the USA were trained in koryu.
    Fusen-ryu, Tenjin Shinyo-ryu, Tsutsumi Hozan ryu (may be debatable), Yoshin-ryu and maybe Ryoi Shinto ryu, and maybe others but this is from memory.
    Now not all of them may have been shihan or menkyo kaiden, or whatever but they did teach their systems. They did so however without teaching the kata, or esoteric training,etc, they taught practical technques for self-defense.

    Although the jujutsu in Europe has been here for a little over 100 years it is still different from the original. Some may call it bleak, some may not call it jujutsu at all. Some may call it an improvement.
    The techniques practised early on in Europe resulted in a so called ' open system' (easily influenced for good or for bad by other systems; judo, karate, aikido). This made a lot of the jujutsu practised, technically not really sound systems and it really ( in my opinion) devaluates the art.

    Happy landings.

    Johan Smits

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    Thanks for the interesting additions to the conversation folks, I've just had the opportunity to catch up.

    I see what you are getting at in your scenarios Kit. However, I think that the difference would be due more to the training methods employed in the koryu, rather than simply training in a koryu art itself. I think that training modality could be employed just as effectively outside the confines of the koryu.

    Personal opinion alert ... I think that the Skosses' contention that "if you want koryu, go to Japan" is still valid for the most part. Not because of any need to immerse oneself in the society that created the koryu, but because that is where the vast majority of senior koryu practicioners are. There are still only a relatively small number of koryu practicioners outside of Japan that have put in the time under seniors of the art that is necessary to understand and promote the underlying ideas and methods of the ryu. The rest of us struggle to work and understand under less than ideal conditions. I know that I don't have enough years left to me to fully understand what I'm studying now, but that still doesn't stop me from enjoying it. Since I am not an LE professional, it is not a life or death situation for me. Thus I am free to study my chosen koryu just because it interests me.

    Johan,
    I think the problem with most of the 'jujutsu' systems is exactly what I referred to in my personal opinion paragraph. They were taught to people for a time only. The vast majority of those early jujutsu practitioners did not study long enough under the right conditions to truly understand the underpinnings of the schools that were taught. They then took their (relatively) shallow understanding and went out on their own. It's why most of the modern jujutsu systems are simply a collection of 'techniques', because the originators did not study long enough to understand the underlying concepts that the 'techniques' were created to teach.

    just my opinions based on my relatively minor experience. Feel free to squash them if I'm off the mark.
    Paul Smith
    "Always keep the sharp side and the pointy end between you and your opponent"

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    Paul,
    I think you are right about the way jujutsu turned out, as you say a collection of techniques with a substantial element missing.
    This may be the reason why more than a few practitioners of modern jujutsu have gotten interested in koryu jujutsu. Probably with the idea that what they feel is missing in their art might be learned from one of the parent arts. This may be a good idea or it may not be. For myself I have
    mixed feelings about this.
    I do think several Japanese teachers lived in Europe for some years and they should have had enough time, with dedicated students to get a more in depth training across. It is my believe that those Japanese teachers chose to not teach kata but to teach applied techniques immediately suitable for selfdefense.

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    You'd still be advised to teach self defense "tricks" rather than kata if you wish to make a living teaching budo these days. There is little general interest in the koryu in any form these days and there has never really been much in the time I've been around.

    Kim.

  11. #26
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    There seems to be quite a bit of interest in the idea of koryu, just not much interest in the actuality.
    Paul Smith
    "Always keep the sharp side and the pointy end between you and your opponent"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hissho View Post

    Inspired in part by Ellis' story of the SMR jo guy's shooting in Hawaii....
    I want to hear more about the broomstick dude. If it took the police officer 3 rounds and SMR training, what did the other guy have?
    Mat Rous

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    "There seems to be quite a bit of interest in the idea of koryu, just not much interest in the actuality."

    One of the guys that studies with me comes from a BJJ/Kickboxing background. He became interested in samurai culture, old Japanese budo, etc. He got hooked up with my group doing Daito-ryu. He did his research and found that Daito-ryu had everything he was looking for. He started training. When he came to us there were only two people training: me and my training partner/co-teacher (now there are 6 of us on a regular basis with a few others that come in when they can). This guy tells everyone, "Wow, when I started I couldn't figure out why more people aren't doing this awesome, ancient, legit martial art!?!" After his first six months into training he finished the story, "It's because it hurts, a lot!" BJJ, judo, kick boxing, MMA, etc. are fun. Daito-ryu is not. The idea of it is pretty awesome though
    Christopher Covington

    Daito-ryu aikijujutsu
    Kashima Shinden Jikishinkage-ryu heiho

    All views expressed here are my own and don't necessarily represent the views of the arts I practice, the teachers and people I train with or any dojo I train in.

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    Boxing is fun? An average of about 8-10 people a year die while boxing. And that's down from the 1920s, when an average of about 25-30 people died while boxing. And even if you don't die while boxing (most people don't), you stiil get a documented injury rate (as in requiring medical attention involving a trip to the emergency room or requiring stitches) of about 35-40%. I didn't know Daito-ryu had that kind of injury rate. How do you keep people coming?

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    Quote Originally Posted by pgsmith View Post

    I think that the Skosses' contention that "if you want koryu, go to Japan" is still valid for the most part. Not because of any need to immerse oneself in the society that created the koryu, but because that is where the vast majority of senior koryu practicioners are. There are still only a relatively small number of koryu practicioners outside of Japan that have put in the time under seniors of the art that is necessary to understand and promote the underlying ideas and methods of the ryu.
    Yes, and I want to be clear that I mean basing it on genuine study with legitimate seniors, either overseas or in Japan. Not the kind of thing you are talking about with the jujutsu mentioned.

    I am opining, in part, that a professional may have more access, so to speak, to some of the core teachings simply due to experience to that life and death experience.

    Much hay is made in some quarters of the fact that modern budo is not "truly martial art," that practitioners with background in that true martial art have a different perspective, and that "Professional Perspective" has even been given a nod in sources from IHS to Koryu Books, and others (one old article I have directly compares the elements of koryu training to law enforcement, from this true martial art perspective) and all from people who are those seniors or have connection to those seniors, so I don't think this is too off the mark.

    Though it probably does depend on the ryu and the practitioners.

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