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Thread: Adapting Koryu

  1. #46
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    There is a potential that other ways - even better ways - of training some of those mental and physical attitudes may be hibernating within some of the koryu that have been properly handed down. I think this underscored the approach that the IHS started with its "Hoplology Theoretics" which,while arcane, is certainly pointing to a practical performance model that had little to do with technical skills trained in kata, but a lot to do with how kata were trained.

    A recent lesson in jo that was offered to some of my training partners by Pascal Krieger sensei directly pointed to this, and it had nothing to do with technique.

    Whether a ryu has lost it, or whether a particular group can approach it, or can even conceive of it, or care to are clearly the matters that underlie this discussion.
    I hear this quite often, but Kit you haven't told us what these lessons "are". What is it that is being discussed? What are these aspects of koryu that we should be defining before we start discussing where else they might come from? What aspect of kata training is it that is so important?

    This is what Johan is looking for, and what I have never discovered in the koryu, leading me to believe that it might be teacher dependant rather than an aspect of koryu training methods. Some of my teachers in jo still teach in the same keishicho as Shimizu s. was teaching and they have revealed no particular secrets beyond the physical kata and an admonishment to train hard (be tough minded, take your lumps without complaint, wait longer before moving, make it work for real, teach the beginners well, don't injure your partner etc. etc.)


    Quote Originally Posted by johan smits View Post
    The idea behind grading (well at least my idea) is that the person training can more or less know where he or she stands. Has (s)he mastered a part of the curriculum, has (s)he mastered all of it? Gradings provide for a certain structure and indeed it is useful when groups are getting larger.
    It is also good for interested parties to be able to find out if someone is indeed 'genuine' or not.
    I know what parts of the curriculum I know, and to what level, without receiving a license stating that. So does everyone. Grades are not needed for that, in fact licenses for levels of mastery are dangerous things, they can create the impression in some people that they have mastered something. This can never be so. Best to simply leave people in some doubt so that they continue to practice like a beginner, as hard and as long as they can.

    Licenses should be hidden in desks, not displayed for the idly curious public. The public should be shown what the sensei knows, not what paper he possesses, paper is easily bought, skills are hard-won and easy to judge for anyone with eyes to see.

    Per example, in my country a lot of people start teaching once they have reached let's say shodan in whatever art. In my book a shodan does not equal a licensed teacher. If my children are going to train in one of the arts I will make sure (my children are young) they will do so with a licensed teacher (that is one of my criteria, I've got scores of others).
    For my kids too I look for a qualified teacher. I have a teaching license in Aikido for my country, it's a shodan and I took 11 years getting it. For iaido I could get a shodan in three months. In 11 more years iaido practice with all grades passed in minimum time I should have a 5dan (coincidentally, the rank at which I can put students forward for gradings) so that's the rank I'd look for if I was looking to put my kids in iaido. Absolute rank number is meaningless, license to teach within an organization is important. If, in koryu, all you get is permission to teach, that's permission to teach.

    For some reason I believe (I could be wrong) that teachers of the modern arts are more prone to adapting and modernizing teaching systems.
    Another point is I don't think koryu provide for specific teaching courses, a lot of modern arts organisations provide courses to become in teacher in those arts. Maybe koryu have that built in the system but it is a bit uncertain.
    I've not heard of any koryu that have a separate system for teaching how to teach. Nor any University system, or modern budo system with the exception of those organizations which subscribe to the coaching levels training in their country. These levels teach how to set up a training session, how not to injure the students during practice, and at the upper levels are turned back over the specific sports/budo for the levels advancement. In koryu the decision on when you are allowed to teach is made specifically by the instructor of the potential teacher in most cases. You're given instructions to go teach. As a result you usually go teach the way you were taught, bringing in any teaching-related knowledge you may have or pick up on the way.


    A lot of koryu teachers seem to prefer only a handful of students. This is something I do not understand. The training methods may not be suitable to cater to large classes but that does not mean that koryu could not be enjoyed by a lot of people.
    I have read about teachers of koryu - way back in the old days in Japan who had hundreds of students. I do not see any harm in that. Blatant commercialism is out of the question of course that is not good for any art.
    In my experience it isn't a question of wanting few students, it's much more the case that koryu is simply not enjoyed by large numbers of people. Kata training is not widely popular. All you need do is look at the relative numbers of people in kendo, iaido and jodo in the kendo federations. Kendo is vastly more popular than iaido and iaido is much more popular than jodo. Poor old jodo is where you have to stand there waiting while your partner cracks you a good one in the solar plexus. What fun is that? In Kendo you can do your partner and if you're good, he can't do you back, and in iaido you get to play with real swords without any risk of damage unless you're clumsy.

    I'd be quite happy if there were 30 students in jodo class tomorrow evening, very shocked too. I used to teach aikido classes of 40 or 50 but those too are now down to 15-20. The budo are not popular, MMA is "more practical" and all that. It's all fine as long as there are enough students for classes to continue, I'm a student of budo not a missionary for some sort of cult, and I do something else to put food on the table. Those professional martial arts teachers I know teach something other than koryu for their daily bread. They'd be delighted with huge numbers of koryu students too, but despite advertising and promoting it within their own classes, their koryu students remain small as well.

    In a nutshell, I will teach anyone who shows up in front of me in class, and there is no charge at all for the classes (only a small door fee at the front desk). Despite this, and a very high profile on the net and locally, my classes stubbornly remain between 5 and 10 students. It's not secrecy and I hope it's not crap instruction. I think it's just a lack of interest.

    Kim.

  2. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kim Taylor View Post
    I hear this quite often, but Kit you haven't told us what these lessons "are".
    I thought I did. Though it may have been missed in all the back and forth about culture, rank, and paper and students and the like.

    To recap what I have written before: referring to Draeger's early work regarding mindset and how it was developed, which includes the IHS work on Hoplology Theoretics (instituted in part with Draeger though Richard Hayes was writing. The description I gave of the officer encounters above pretty much spelled it out directly.

    Hall's work also refers to it.

    Some PMs and e-mail I have received indicate that some are picking up on it.

    This is exactly the problem with the subject being discussed. It is a somewhat esoteric element for many people to apprehend. Suffice it to say, I think I learned more about these lessons of the koryu when someone almost succeeded in killing me than I ever did in the dojo, though the kernels were there, perhaps appropriate to my early introduction in all this, sometimes hidden in plain site.

  3. #48
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    I will try not to confuse us any further with ravings about culture, rank, students and paper and so forth although I do feel that if the discussion is about adapting koryu we should have a proper idea of what a koryu institutes.

    If I understand it well it is a series of techniques not unlike the things found in WW2 Homeguard manuals for unarmed combat. (By the way I like those manuals).

    Just a little bit more about rank and paper. Koryu in Japan work with rank and paper, do they not? Well one koryu adaption would be to just forget about that. Go forth and train. No rank, paper or license, that's cool.
    But is that not the same as telling people I will teach you to drive, after a while they can drive a car. Driverslicenses? Naah we don't do that. And we don't need no examinations to get one.

    On a practical side. If you are not a licensed teacher in my country, you cannot get membership of the licensed teacher's club (LTC This in itself is something one can live with I am sure. What is a big letdown is that the membership includes insurances. So no license, no membership,no insurance. You want to teach without insurance? That is a big risk.
    It has prevented some teachers of koryu to teaching overhere.
    Are koryu teachers insured? I don't know.

    Did Shimizu sensei not adapt Shindo Muso ryu to make it more convenient or more easy to learn? To draw more students to his ryu? To popularize it so to speak?

    No secrets beyond the physical kata? That is music to my ears. I am not much into esoteric stuff. This will probably mean you can learn a koryu curriculum much faster than we were always told.

    " I'd be quite happy if there were 30 students in jodo class tomorrow evening, very shocked too. "

    Kim, guite happy and very shocked that is great man I really had a laugh.

    Kit - with all due respect. Policeofficers in the USA do they get ' papered ' after a thorough education in which they learn all sorts of things to be abel to work in their profession? Or are they given a firearm and are told to watch out a bit? Why would koryu be any different?

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    Its not that, Johan, its that the discussion always ends up there because I think that tends to be all that people can discuss - for a variety of reasons. It results in what can amount to be essentially a competition in pedantry rather than anything substantive.

    Not exactly what the men in that police jo article were discussing, and not what I am interested in.

  5. #50
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    Kit, I agree with you it is not the most interesting subject when you consider koryu on the other hand it is also a part of the discussion.

    I find your point of view very interesting because it gives me, being a civilian, another angle to look at the thing.

    Most practitioners of martial arts are probably civilians. Why would civilians learn an art for warriors? Happened in Japan way back also. Did it change the (then) ryu? Well it's questions and questions.

    But then you have studied koryu, could you give a concrete example of how say kata or techniques were altered? Have you found kata of use, describe them, describe the things you have altered. Without making things public that should not be made public. And spell it out please

    By the way have you bought my book already? the jiu-jitsuphotoalbum of Hans van der Stok. A real WW2 resistancefighter who did jiu-jitsu.

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    Re: Daito-ryu and boxing. I never said Daito-ryu had more injuries that required ER treatment. I said Daito-ryu is less fun to do. It is kata training, there is no real free rolling in it (we add that on our own via sumo, judo, bjj, limited force on force drills or whatever). It also hurts. I've been injured more in judo or boxing than I have in koryu (hopefully I'll never be injured in Jikishinkage-ryu because that could be really bad) but those are rare injuries that can happen in any sport. Daito-ryu hurts every class. At a certain point DR is teaching a lot of pain compliance techniques and you can't really learn that without making people feel pain. How do I get them to come back? I don't, they see value in the training for the work they do (security, police or clinical hands on) so they come back on their own. Some folks have dropped out and I haven't a clue how to get them back into the dojo. I think Mr. Taylor summed up my thoughts pretty well comparing kendo to jodo, "Kata training is not widely popular. All you need do is look at the relative numbers of people in kendo, iaido and jodo in the kendo federations."
    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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    Maybe kata training is not so popular because of the way it is taught. Any chance of adapting the way of teaching kata? Do we think of that or do koryu teachers think of that?
    Although judo and kendo kata are I think different beasties than koryu kata.

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

    (pain is an essential element of jujutsu. Although not overly pleasant it is not so bad once you get used to it. Damage is a different matter.)

  8. #53
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    Most police defensive tactics training is kata. Virtually all firearms training and tactics training is kata.

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    Is there any Araki-ryu influence in your firearms training?
    Or in other training you do?

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    RE: examples-

    See posts 20 and 21 in this thread. I understand that folks sometimes breeze through these longer threads, so perhaps those got missed. Otherwise, are folks really having trouble extrapolating what I am talking about from the descriptions already noted?

    If so, this is probably more of an uphill battle than I realized.

  11. #56
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    You know Kit, I have seen the thread and I think you can were only shinguards and be completely naked for the rest and still do Araki-ryu kata. Tools and clothes is not what it is about is it?

    Hypothetical situation. In a ryu there is a kata in which you sneak up behind a guy, grab his legs and kick his testicles. Is that okay for police work or would you adapt such a kata? Is it okay for a civilian to learn?

    Do you throw an attacker on his head? Or not? Would that be wise? The person reacts how he is trained. So if you only train an old-fashioned kata in which you learn to destroy an enemy there is a big chance you will do so in a real encounter. But if you change (adapt) those kata are you still doing the ryu?

    I don't think it is an uphill battle I think we are trying to delve a little deeper.

    I had a guy coming to my class many years ago, broad, lean, muscles and tattoo's all over the place. A teacher of thaiboxing. He wanted to learn jujutsu. Why is that? - I asked. The guy worked in his spare time as a doorman and he badly needed to learn some locks etc because when trouble started he used his thaiboxing. Problem was he had been in court several times where he had a hard time explaining the judge why the other party was always black, blue and bandaged and he not.

    He trained for some time with us and seemed happy.

    Happy landings.

    Johan Smits

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    Kit, thanks for your thoughts put on 'paper'. It has been an interesting read.
    Steffen Gjerding
    Kakudokan dojo

    Yup, lousy english

  13. #58
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    Johan

    I think we are on different planes of thinking here.

    Sometimes tools is exactly what it is about....

    I think I am already deeper than you have delved, so keep digging!

    Think situationally rather than specific techniques. People seem to be really wrapped up in kata and technique. I was taught that kata and technique are simply vehicles for the application of the principles, strategies, and tactics of the system. Araki-ryu kata changed routinely when I was practicing them, and sometimes divergent physical techniques were still seen as applications of the kata: I saw that in another ryu as well, a sword school under a single soke system: kata changing, and indeed kata where once A and B were done, the "finish" could be one of several things "depending on how the enemy reacted." Not taught as "henka" but rather just a flexible approach to the basic kata.

    If you "changed" a kata would it still be the ryu? Do any ryu consider the specific movements of a kata the defining aspect of their ryu? Not the signature, but that the ryu itself is a sequence of specific moves done without variance?

    I think you know the answer to that already.

    It should be obvious that I am not talking about specific techniques or tactics within kata at all, though some are direct fits and absolutely appropriate for given situations that may be a more relevant contextual crossover than the adoption of straight sporting methods, or even sport grappling methods adding a knife or a gun.

    There is a different framework for thinking about these problems to begin with, one that is not supplied in Judo or BJJ because they have been engineered too far away from the weapons based environment, or in something like aikido because it left its martiality behind.

    Simply plugging a weapon back in to sportive grappling can be problematic without proper integration within a mental and physical platform i.e. "mind/body organization" that assumes the presence of weapons. Once again, the BJJ in DT thread in combatives is a wonderful example (or bad example, depending) of how this can manifest.

    To grasp where I am coming from, perhaps it is best to sequentially consider:

    Context (weapons/tools, not specific weapons/tools but the weapons based environment)

    then

    Mindset (lethal or potentially lethal malevolent intent/restraint of people who have already or who may manifest that intent)

    then

    Organization (how your body moves and how your intent and thinking (say, an in approach or a yo approach, address and augment the above)

    and only then

    Kata/Techniques.

    Steffen -thanks!
    Last edited by Hissho; 14th February 2012 at 18:42.

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    "Context (weapons/tools, not specific weapons/tools but the weapons based environment)

    then

    Mindset (lethal or potentially lethal malevolent intent/restraint of people who have already or who may manifest that intent)

    then

    Organization (how your body moves and how your intent and thinking (say, an in approach or a yo approach, address and augment the above)

    and only then

    Kata/Techniques."

    Hey Kit,

    I think that is where koryu is different than sport budo. Koryu trains you (or at least should) for what you are describing (although I think backwards to the way you list it). You train kata, kata and more kata. Those kata organize your body, if done correctly, they train that mindset that we are dealing with lethal or fully resisting force, and it informs the overall context that this is a weapons based or potentially weapons based environment. Sport budo takes a turn at the mindset stage. Sport budo is not a lethal engagement and your mindset is geared for the game and winning points and such. This means the context is completely different, no weapons involves or if it is fencing no weapons that will do harm are involved. I can tell ya going hands on with people is a completely different experience from a hard judo match. Sport judo might be able to inform the practitioner about a confrontation but the consequences of your actions are much more serious and require a different type of training. As per context a weapon isn't always a nice ko-Bizen katana or the latest offerings from Glock or a specific weapon. For many people who go hands on a weapon is a pen, a piece of broken glass, a cane, a foot rest on a wheel chair, etc. All will brain you or bleed you out just as well as another.

    Ganbatte!
    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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    Chris

    Yes that was device to hopefully get people to grasp it.

    Training must start with kata, but kata cannot be unplugged from context, and once that is understood, from mindset, without fundamentally changing what it is you are doing in kata.

    In actuality it is all inter-penetrating and cyclical. Your comments re: sport make a lot of sense when you look at it that way, because the more increasingly complex the situation grows in the weapons based/tactical environment the more the sport model can become a square peg in a round hole.

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