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Thread: Adapting Koryu

  1. #91
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    David brings up a good point and one that pertains to how training is conducted vis-a-vis what one faces and what a legal expectation is.

    For an armed citizen, even though there may not be a "duty to retreat" in your particular state, if you have distance and time to use a ranged weapon on a guy you are going to have to articulate why you did not disengage.

    This could be a problem with adaptation in some of the weapons based koryu systems at the maai generally practiced....the goal in any armed or unarmed defense situation is to a) prevent harm to self or others and b) escape the situation where further harm can occur. When you have the ability to disengage based on circumstances, yet stay and continue the fight you are now engaging in mutual combat. If you stay and get revenge the tables have turned and you are committing assault.

    Not always: say in Ellis example he is at a home visit, and dude with knife says he is going to kill Ellis and then dude's own wheelchair bound mother who is there in the room and whom he has been terrorizing and living off of for many years: then remaining to protect her, and doing the kind of damage David mentions, becomes more reasonable....

    Being in your own home may make it different, or having to protect your family's retreat in public are other examples.

    Still, the advantage of the close combat systems is that they generally contain a number of things that are defending against a sudden violent assault, armed or unarmed, and they often contain a pin or other momentary control while the practitioner draws his own weapon or disarms the attacker. That moment of control can also provide the opportunity to disengage, which is often the most tactical thing to do as well as the ethical/legal thing to do.

    It is going to be entirely situationally based.

    One thing I do want to clarify though is that you are not required to hit, then assess, then hit, then assess again, and so on. Same with a firearm: you don't just have to shoot him once and then look and see what happens before you do so again.

    So an articulation of David's example would very likely be "he just kept coming." I don't mean lie, or being tongue in cheek, but if you are dealing with a crazed attacker (for whatever reason) the broken hand, the shattered cheekbone, the ruptured eyeball may not stop the assault. If you can't get away, and he isn't stopping, you can keep going until he does, and don't get too wrapped around the fact that you are hurting him "too much" if he is still a threat to you and others....provided your assessment of that threat is a reasonable one.

    I teach cops and civilians that the best way to get someone to stop being a threat is to use the maximum amount of force that is reasonable first, rather than fiddling around with all sorts of different things until you get there. The second strategy prolongs an encounter and actually increases yours and the bad guys chances of injury.

    Getting into firearms here would be a bit too complex (i.e. how many times can you shoot him?) but I hope that this makes sense.
    Last edited by Hissho; 24th February 2012 at 16:20.

  2. #92
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    Ruptured eyeball?
    Gee you koryu guys are a violent lot are you not?

    "Not always: say in Ellis example he is at a home visit, and dude with knife says he is going to kill Ellis and then dude's own wheelchair bound mother who is there in the room and whom he has been terrorizing and living off of for many years: then remaining to protect her, and doing the kind of damage David mentions, becomes more reasonable...."

    Reasonable? Kit, all Ellis has to do is run harder than the old lady can ride in her wheelchair. THAT is jujutsu strategy.

    All violence put aside, you and me, we have more in common than you might think at first glance.
    I think the 'maximum amount of force that is reasonable' equals the 'minimum amount of force that is necessary'. Which is what I teach.

    I am getting back to my boring line of questions.

    Koryu were developed within a specific cultural setting with specific rules and regulations and laws. To me as an outsider it would seem logical that koryu (read: living entities who want to excert power and inluence in society) would adapt to the rules and regulations of that society.
    Let's leave hidden agenda's, political extremists, pan-asianism out of the discussion, just to keep it more easy.

    I have no idea if koryu, these days and age in Japan have adapted to Japanese society. They probably have but maybe not. Any dojo-yaburi going on - on a large scale I mean? Swords and practice weapons are not carried openly on the street I presume, etc.

    Koryu goes West (yep a mild case of plagiarism) - since there are attorneys present let me hasten to add that this is a joke with words 'plagen' in Dutch means 'teasing'.

    Popularizing koryu seems a bit a dirty word in certain circles. But how come?
    One of the reasons I have read (honestly can't recall where) koryu are not very popular with the younger generation is that it is often in one way or another linked to the political right.
    This is not so in the West so that is one obstacle less.
    If koryu are truly living entities and able to adapt to circumstances then why do they not do so? For instance in Europe - it may be lack of shihan - people who are qualified to make these adaptions.

    I have another example: I have been reading a lot about taijiquan lately and although it is a different beasty from koryu you can compare them.
    Most of the big family styles: Yang, Chen, Wu, Sun have developed a short form. ( mostly 8 or 10 techniques) Is it still their families style? Yes it is. Different characters, different flavors. So they have kept their respective identities. They did so to make taijiquan more accesable to the general public. And see it works.
    Is there a specific reason why this could not be done with koryu?

    *sighs and searches for stone croc with Coorenwyn*

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

  3. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by johan smits View Post

    I think the 'maximum amount of force that is reasonable' equals the 'minimum amount of force that is necessary'. Which is what I teach.
    It does NOT, but that is an entirely different subject. There is already a thread on this here:

    http://www.e-budo.com/forum/showthread.php?t=50515

    Otherwise I think I am starting to see a point where we are diverging in this discussion, which I missed before, though you and Kim have talked about it.

    Popularizing is not at all what I mean by adapting koryu. Taijiquan is actually a fascinating comparison, as what you have might be described as an even greater emasculation of a former combative practice, over subsequent generations, in the interest of popularizing it for folks who were not fighting men and stopped really caring about the actual martial application in most cases.

    But again, the seeds are still there, to steal a Lowry-ism there is a "trickle" there in what was once a powerful flow....in the right hands the flow might be restored with some of its former integrity.

    But what has happened to "Big Taiji" is the LAST thing I would want to see happen to any true martial art.

    Pardon me if I am repeating myself, but I want to restate that I a firm believer in protecting combative material that involves inflicting serious injury and death from the majority of martial arts students who in my experience simply do not have the maturity or experience in which to properly conceptualize this stuff.

    Even for many koryu, aiki, jujutsu, whatever exponents it is all a game, a fantasy of violence that is at once not too threatening (to the egos of those involved) while aggrandizing acts of killing and mayhem taken completely out of any contextual basis other than the act itself. This is disturbing, at best.

    Enough soapboxing...again my idea is not about making it more popular at all.

    I keep my modern CQC group VERY limited for this exact reason. No kids are allowed, and dilettantes that get invited don't tend to stay. I require a concealed weapons permit or LE/military experience in good standing. That is not hard to do, but it judges the level of commitment on the student's part, and a level of background in terms of terminology, basic understanding of law, and the fact that they have wrapped their head around the subject matter at hand in a realistic way as opposed to a dojo-based way.

    It is exclusive, and I want it that way, because the stuff I teach might actually be used by them to save their lives - or to take a life in a way that is not contextually removed by "tradition" or the wearing of costumes or what have you. I want people that I am teaching this to be pretty squared away, and to understand the ramifications of what we are talking about in a very real sense, versus some kind of excited LARP-ing surrounding cutting someone's throat or disemboweling them.

    As is, I have cops and police applicants, military spec ops, a medical doctor, another medical professional, a teacher, a tech security guy, and a businessman and contractor who are all upstanding members of their community. Most of them have black belts in one or more other systems.

    I LIKE the idea of exclusivity and think it is the only suitable way to even begin to work with an adaptation of koryu into the modern context that I am talking about.

    I am all for popularizing "budo." Aikido, karatedo, Judo (though an article in the latest USJF magazine about intentionally trying to make Judo more commercial kinda made me cringe...), BJJ, what have you should be open to all. They are not martial arts and have great self defense benefit.

    But not this stuff. Disciplines dealing with deadly force need to be approached in a suitable way.
    Last edited by Hissho; 24th February 2012 at 19:57.

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    Kit,

    About the minimum/maximum force I am inclined to take your word for it but I will take a look at the link anyway. Just in case

    "I LIKE the idea of exclusivity and think it is the only suitable way to even begin to work with an adaptation of koryu into the modern context that I am talking about."

    "Pardon me if I am repeating myself, but I want to restate that I a firm believer in protecting combative material that involves inflicting serious injury and death from the majority of martial arts students who in my experience simply do not have the maturity or experience in which to properly conceptualize this stuff "


    Actually I understand quite well what you are saying and I tend to agree with you. The only thing different from my point of view is the modern context. I am talking and looking at things from a civilian point of view. Suppose I would train with your group being in the same profession as I am now. Even though my intent and my level of proficiency would meet with your approval and standard - from my point of view I would be 'play-acting' since in my life there is no need or maybe a better word is opportunity to use those skills.

    In case I follow my own line of thinking as purely as possible I should probably be searching for a koryu much younger than the schools from the Sengoku period. Koryu with its curriculum more in line with a civilian's life.

    By the way the short forms of taijiquan I am talking about are not devoid of martial applications. Even the 'Peking style or 24 form' although developed with health maintenance of workers as it's first goal has got self-defense applications.
    So do the short forms of the family styles. What I find very realistic is the fact that the teachers in those arts realize and acknowledge that the times have changed and people have many more distractions these days.
    Instead of keeping the arts exclusive they have made adaptions without altering the essence of the arts. I think that is really a very smart thing to do.
    They did not change the art itself, they made adaptions in the way these arts are taught.
    Being a teacher myself this is something which interests me greatly.

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

  5. #95
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    But having martial application is different from training in such a way that maximizes the application.

    By changing the way an art is taught, not to mention a drive to allow more students from different walks of life and differing abilities, you do change the art in very critical ways.

    The modern recreational shooter somewhat interested in self defense learns the same shooting fundamentals as the Navy SEAL or CAG operator......they just change the way it is taught, and change the very nature of the type of individual that gets to be there for training in the first place by making it far more exclusive.

    As far as my group - you might be surprised. I am sure you would fit right in. The difference is not that they don't use it (most do use the low level avoidance stuff we base all our training on), its that they want to be prepared if and when they do. Enough people in our dojo as a whole have had some pretty scary scrapes, to include a shooting with home invaders, that the practical reality of it is not so remote. The guys in my group just want to have some idea what to do if it steps off, rather than relying on the statistics that it won't happen.

  6. #96
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    I do agree with Kit here - every failure I've had a a koryu teacher has been in the area of trying to make it more accessible. This is different from using Araki-ryu parameters with a belt (ryofundo) or flashlight (short staff/kodachi - amalgam). Everytime I changed the core mindset - to make things more understandable, more accessible, the training material suffered, the group suffered, and the ryu was damaged.

    I will state as clearly as I can that not every ryu is run that way - nor should it. But the sense of an elite is not confined to any profession, but as Kit clearly states, to an attitude and mindset. This also doesn't mean "we are too deadly for the mat, so we can't spar," or any of the other nonsense that kobudoka can come up with. If someone from another ryu were to say - that's not our operating system, so to speak - fine. I simply desire that my training maintains that edge so that if someone who must live that edge enters the dojo, they will find themselves at home with both the mindset and the material - even if they never need to use a ten foot spear.

    And by the way, as for koryu lite, so to speak - it already exists. Aikido would be an example. And before anyone gets all insulted, that's why I occasionally am happy to teach aikido. To offer a tincture of that old school stuff to a wider arena. With no pretense that one is the other.

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    Good thread guys.

    I had to comment on this statement:

    every failure I've had a a koryu teacher has been in the area of trying to make it more accessible.
    I couldn't agree more. I've been sticking to my guns for years, knowing for a fact (and from trial and error) that the traditional teaching method is the most effective way to teach the arts I study. I've had to explain the logic behind it so many times I could throw up, and the best I seem to get out of it is seniors at least leaving me alone. The good news is I have a handful of students I can refer to as examples of successful implementation of this teaching method. They learn faster than other students, and are beginning to surpass others of comparable rank/seniority in skills.

    How many times do people need to learn from the same mistakes?!?!?

    BTW, I've posted about this here before, but I use classical Japanese MA techniques, tactics, and principles on a very regular basis as part of my profession. Personally, I found it to be a - mostly - subconscious result of training correctly, for long enough. And yes, I'm a kata guy, FWIW.

    Regards,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    Thanks for chiming in, Nathan - some questions:

    Do you feel your approach has changed at all after you got on the job, or was it a confirmation? Considering of course that your aikido teacher at least was definitely on the more practical end of the spectrum...

    How would you compare/contrast with what LAPD is doing DT/tactics wise: especially since some of those instructors come from more sportive backgrounds? (For examples, John McCarthy, Mark Mireles, George Ryan, and I am sure others.)

    What do you feel you may have learned from them that affected what you learned previously?

    And what do you think the classical method offered you - from the time you entered LE to now - that was not met by your academy and in-service training?

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    Hey Kit,

    Do you feel your approach has changed at all after you got on the job, or was it a confirmation? Considering of course that your aikido teacher at least was definitely on the more practical end of the spectrum...
    No, that was the interesting thing. I was relieved to find that it was just confirmation. I haven't changed the way that I train at all since applying it professionally. I actually expected there to be more eye-openers, but for me, situations have for the most part been resolved very decisively. Of course, there are the typical issues with PCP strength, sweaty people, people with thick jackets, etc. But I found myself bypassing those issues quickly without forethought or much stumbling.

    My prior Aikido training definitely has been very valuable for me, though more and more, I'm using methods that I train more in currently than I do "Aikido". Technically, there is actually not much difference on the surface, but I am moving more and more away from "Aikido" and using more classical methods.

    How would you compare/contrast with what LAPD is doing DT/tactics wise: especially since some of those instructors come from more sportive backgrounds? (For examples, John McCarthy, Mark Mireles, George Ryan, and I am sure others.)
    DT/ Arrest & Control methods are largely based off of Aikido controls, so some of the locks are similar. When I was just getting started on the job there was only one instructor who had Aikido experience though. The rest were all doing MMA, boxing, and/or grappling. These arts are still their main focus, even though the first-contact arrest methods are based on Aikido locks (?). The methods taught are, from a martial artist perspective, relatively low-tech and basic. But this is for the same reason that Military methods are simplified - there is not enough time for hand-to-hand budgeted to teach anything deeper. In places like Japan, it is expected that officers will continue training after they graduate the academy. In places like the US, such officers are the exception to the rule. I'm lucky in the area I work though, in that they allowed us to build a "dojo" in the lower parking area, and a number of us train in some kind of martial arts. I think we are the only station in the Department to have our own matted dojo though...

    Anyway, the instructors will be the first ones to explain to you that grappling on the ground is the last place you want to be, but then spend their time teaching us grappling anyway. In the meantime, most co-workers do not understand the first thing about joint locks or off-balancing, and stick to one or two methods to take someone in to custody.

    Using Aikido terminology, most my partners seem to prefer some form of Ikkajo control. Personally, I find myself using Ikkajo, Sankajo, and Yonkajo controls the most. I've also used Kotegaeshi, Hijijime, and various other less known locks / methods with much success. As I mentioned elsewhere, in keeping with my current training, at the completion of a take-down I am ending up in either a one-handed or hands-free pin automatically now, which is very helpful for a number of reasons.

    FWIW, I just had a situation earlier this week in which one of our clients began to fight us on contact. He wasn't very muscular or big, but it turned out that he was EXTREMELY double jointed in the shoulders. I've come across this before, but once we got him down I ended up just about wrapping his arm all the way around his head trying to take out the slack and find a point of control. Although I kept hold of the position of weakness I had ended up with his arm, I transitioned to an alternate joint to establish body control. I moved the point of my knee onto the side of his neck, where the skull meets the neck (let's call it the "neck joint"!), and used body weight/alignment to pin his upper body to the ground. This worked very well, and we were able to get him in custody easily once his upper body was immobilized (not exactly a new idea, but one I don't usually use...). After standing him up, he began to struggle again, so I used the outer edge of my forearm to again pin the side of his "neck joint" to the wall. In this case, the technique can be thought of as a "tegatana" controlling technique - at least, that's how it felt to me when thinking back on it. This also worked very well for controlling his body (hands were already secured).

    Anyway, nothing too exciting or challenging, but thought I'd pass on a bit of different technique that came out a few days ago...

    What do you feel you may have learned from them that affected what you learned previously?
    If you are referring to what I do vs. the academy, I would have to say grappling. I've never dabbled in grappling before, and I think it's useful to have an idea what type of strategies to expect, and how to reverse basic grappling.

    If you mean on the job experience, not much. I already was employing quite a bit of the "zanshin" concept outside the dojo before, but I can tell that it is quite a bit more acute and sharp now that I use it at work everyday. Other than that, my training seems to give me a pretty significant edge over my clients so far, who for the most part are not used coming across people like me who have trained significantly outside of generic academy stuff.

    And what do you think the classical method offered you - from the time you entered LE to now - that was not met by your academy and in-service training?
    As I said, you just can't get good at putting hands on without practicing it enough. Practicing anything is for the most part better than not practicing at all. The classical stuff is far more complete a system than the modern stuff is from a combative standpoint, meaning strategies, tactics, mental conditioning, and depth of teachings/principles. These are things that take longer to train though, and would require in-service continued training. The lack of in-service continued training is, I think, one of the biggest mistakes most Departments are making with their officers.

    Classical training is a long-term method of training, not a quick-fix method. It is only useful for those that are willing to look at the bigger picture and train long term, IMO. However, it is VERY helpful, and I highly recommend it for those seeking practical ability.

    As far as academy goes, they do a good job considering the amount of time they have to impart the skills. That being said, the one point I would have liked to have seen explained and emphasized is kuzushi. Balance breaking wasn't discussed at all, and joint locks are not useful for controlling someone unless kuzushi is accomplished.

    Just some additional opinions,
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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    That neck control makes a big difference, both face up and face down, I have found, especially with the Gumbies and the people not feeling any pain.

    If you would elaborate - what are the technical/tactical reasons you find yourself moving away from aikido methods (and in this case we have the unique perspective of actually the same techniques, just the modern aikido version of classical techniques) and turning toward the older stuff?

    I think I know why, and it is one of the things I am getting at with this whole thread, especially in light of looking at classical methods versus modern derivations for LE and military.

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    Kit,

    "But having martial application is different from training in such a way that maximizes the application."

    That is absolutely true. Even if you train the martial application seriously I still think that that does not necesarrily mean maximizing the application.
    That is a big difference - maximizing is I think only possible when one has applied the techniques for real. Knowing what angle works and what does not work for instance in a technique.

    "By changing the way an art is taught, not to mention a drive to allow more students from different walks of life and differing abilities, you do change the art in very critical ways. "

    This is something I am not convinced of.
    As a teacher I am inclined to say that a certain material can be taught in different formats or different ways. I am an outsider right? So maybe koryu are an exception to that rule, but then how come?

    Allowing more people with differing abilities will only change an art when you start catering to those people. Adapting the art so they can stay and train in it an feel happy with it. But that is not what I mean.
    If you allow more people in and you will not change the art itself but only the way it is taught will probably get more people trying their hand at the art.

    The more people will try it, the more people will stay with it - seems to me while keeping in mind that a lot of people will not continue their training in it since it is not for them.

    "Even for many koryu, aiki, jujutsu, whatever exponents it is all a game, a fantasy of violence that is at once not too threatening (to the egos of those involved) while aggrandizing acts of killing and mayhem taken completely out of any contextual basis other than the act itself. This is disturbing, at best. "

    Apart from disturbing I feel the people teaching that way are dishonest. They give their students a false sense of security and ability which can be dangerous to them in case those people ever need to use their art in the real world.

    Over the years I have come across people training with me who want to learn to protect themselves but I know there are certain areas of training they do not want to go. (the ruptured eyeball part so to speak).
    As a teacher I can do two things. I can turn them away telling them I can not teach them and they will never be abel to defend themselves.
    On the other hand I can also teach them some selfprotection techniques they can and (probably) will use in an emergency and tell them as good as I can what to expect in the real world. This means seriously discussing the shortcomings of what they are training in.
    In that way I have helped them as best as I could and they do have some form of selfprotection so in an emergency they are not utterly helpless. Remember I am talking about civilians nothing else.

    Ellis:

    "I changed the core mindset - to make things more understandable, more accessible, the training material suffered, the group suffered, and the ryu was damaged."

    But Ellis this is not what I mean. One way of adapting the teaching of the art is for instance to change the order of the curriculum. Or to create from the ryu's curriculum a separate well rounded group of techniques - still Araki-ryu mindset et all - which students of modern arts might train to get introduced to Araki-ryu.

    An example: my style of jujutsu, were I to teach a group of judoka (with the idea to get them interested) I would choose to start with a different part of the curriculum than I would if I would say had to teach aikidoka or iaidoka.
    Essentialy all of them would be learning the same art only my approach would be different.

    Would the 'myote' from Araki-ryu maybe be a good example? From memory you wrote these techniques were Araki-ryu's answer to the upcoming Kodokan judo. This would hardly be battlefield techniques I guess but it would still be Araki-ryu mindset would it not?

    Happy landings,

    Johan Smits

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    Hi Johan -

    One way of adapting the teaching of the art is for instance to change the order of the curriculum. Or to create from the ryu's curriculum a separate well rounded group of techniques - still Araki-ryu mindset et all - which students of modern arts might train to get introduced to Araki-ryu.
    <SNIP>
    Would the 'myote' from Araki-ryu maybe be a good example? From memory you wrote these techniques were Araki-ryu's answer to the upcoming Kodokan judo. This would hardly be battlefield techniques I guess but it would still be Araki-ryu mindset would it not?
    Separating the order of presentation of the methodology - that's no big deal. The second question has a couple of ramifications. The first one, I already addressed - that, for example, can I use a belt in the manner of a ryofundo, for the same purpose. (BTW - I first got inspiration re that from a book I read at age twelve, which described a group of marines on shore leave attack by a gang whom they destroyed with their garrison belts).

    But the second question??? - first of all the myote techniques are crap, to be honest - primitive throws, inefficient structure. So should I improve them? Why? The best I could come up with already exists. There is greco-roman wrestling, judo, sambo - over a century of study by thousands of men far better than I'll ever be able to imagine. So my position is: study grappling and then come do Araki-ryu. In recent times, the old guys of Isezaki Araki-ryu, for the most part, were very proud of their dan rankings in judo. (What this means is that as soon as they could see how fast and far judo was advancing, they dropped the myote, more or less, and developed that aspect of things through judo). (Therefore, the myote is not part of my curriculum - it may be a historical curiosity, but of no other value).

    How about kicks and punches? Learn some muay thai and come study Araki-ryu. What? How could a ring art have any validity to a "battlefield practice?" Simply, muay that is a study of the most efficient and powerful ways to kick, knee, punch, and elbow. A lot is not relevant - we find out what IS relevant in our own sparring sessions, which take into account what clothes/armor one would be wearing, or whether one is armed (Don't think I'd want to do a high kick against someone with a blade in their hand, of course). And then, in a civilian, modern context, a drunk starts pushing you and you kick his upper thigh with a really hard low shin kick and he's on the ground, largely uninjured. You have the tools, without having to deblood the ryu.

    Another example - Araki-ryu has somewhere in its records an admonition to learn "tanegashima" - (the primitive muskets of the 16th century). No thanks. So should we update and include Araki-ryu techniques with firearms? Which firearms? That's ridiculous. And why bother? Go study with someone who is expert with firearms, as is requisite to your station in life (military, police or civilian).

    In fact, that's exactly how the bushi did things in the old days. You look at the training history of many of the old shihan, and they had other menkyo in tactics, in firearms, in another form of kenjutsu.

    There is no hard and fast rule here how "koryu" should and does handle the modern world. In Toda-ha Buko-ryu (THBR), much of this discussion is irrelevant - not all, but much - because the ryu is more circumscribed to archaic weapons, and no grappling component. But once again, your question has relevance another way. The way naginata schools have tried to make things more "accessible" is to join with the modern competition naginata using the light, whippy bamboo naginata shinai. The old school kata are seen as less and less relevant to winning competition, so are either ignored, or get "contaminated" by the thinking patterns of the modern sport form. THBR would not be "top of the line" using a naginata shinai - it's techniques are built for use of a heavy weapon, which one couldn't use in such sports shiai - so to change it in this way would mean the loss of what makes it valuable, even as a repository of old information.

    I think that the problem in discussion here is the idea of doing something for the public good, making something more accessible so more people could have the benefits. How is this different from saying Chopin's music is too difficult for most people, so how about if we trim a lot of those notes? Maybe only a very few people will ever play Chopin's etudes. A lot more will play simpler music and have a good time doing so.

    Whether koryu practitioners are truly an "elite," or merely have an ideology that they are an elite, is not relevant. What is relevant is that it is a knowledge base and a form of study that only a few are drawn to. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with the koryu that requires improvement. That's just the way it is.

    Ellis Amdur
    Last edited by Ellis Amdur; 25th February 2012 at 17:39.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ellis Amdur View Post
    Whether koryu practitioners are truly an "elite," or merely have an ideology that they are an elite, is not relevant. What is relevant is that it is a knowledge base and a form of study that only a few are drawn to. That doesn't mean there is something wrong with the koryu that requires improvement. That's just the way it is.
    Some may go with "elite" as a description, others might use "obscure" or "irrelevant" (which is of course the topic of discussion of this thread) or even "irritating" and "boring" but I think you've got it right Ellis, the key here is that koryu appeals to very few people so there are very few people practicing.

    I don't know how one would change the koryu sword arts to become more popular without re-inventing kendo. I've never tried to change the techniques or my teaching style, I don't have the permission. I teach as I was taught and only what I was taught. As to missionary work, I have limited myself to advertising (putting information out there, offering seminars), being in the organization of my sensei (kendo federation) where iaido and jodo are supposed to find a fruitful bunch of potential students (personally I've found karate and aikido folks are generally more interested in iaido and jodo than kendo folks are) and teaching anyone who shows up in class (minus the personality checks and waiting outside the gate in the rain).

    I'm pretty easy going but I still have a 90 percent dropout rate and at the best of times have only had about 14 students on the books. Koryu is just not that interesting to most people.

    Kim.

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    "As a teacher I am inclined to say that a certain material can be taught in different formats or different ways. I am an outsider right? So maybe koryu are an exception to that rule, but then how come?"

    As I see it (at least from my own limited koryu studies) is that the ryu shapes the student much more than the student shapes the ryu. Before I studied Jikishinkage-ryu I had seen the old budokan video of Omori Sogen doing the Hojo. I thougt to myself that isn't a very difficult kata! I tried to copy it and I did. The movements were pretty close, I lifted the sword when I needed to, I stepped when I needed to and I cut when I needed to. I wasn't doing Jikishinkage-ryu at all, in fact I missed almost EVERYTHING! To say the kata was hollow or lifeless was to be kind. In Jikishinkage-ryu the first set of kata are used to really start to shape the student, so much so that it influences how you move in almost everything else you do. I don't think you could do this without following the format of training (when I took a seminar with Sasamori sensei of Itto-ryu I felt like I was doing Jikishinkage-Itto-ryu lol). It wouldn't make a lick of sense to start a student out with the shinai kata or kodachi kata first because the foundation isn't there for those sets. It would do a diservice to the student to try. An art like judo or aikido there is a lot of room for a favorite technique, or throwing them into the mix at any point because they will after time form their own aikido or their own judo.

    I feel that this concept of creating your own judo or aikido or whatever limits what a student can do. When I studied judo (for about 6 years, for 6 days a week, between 4 and 8 hours a class) I really focused on a handful of throws: hizaguruma, haraigoshi, and tomoenage. Even today when I show up to a judo class duing randori I default to those throws. There are many situations where another throw might be better but I developed my style to such a level even after 15 years this is what comes out of me. The same happens on the ground, too. This won me many trophies and medals (I'm not sure how many because I think I threw most of them out when I moved out of my parent's house). I can no longer afford to limit myself like that. In the kata method of training I spend an equal amount of time on all the kata. I've found this to be VERY helpful in the "real world." When I go hands on I am able to better adapt to the situation because I have a much larger "vocabulary" to pull from and a much better solid foundation (as much as I practiced I feel my over all judo foundation was actually very weak in retrospect). Kata or pieces of kata that I might not "like" to do in the dojo have found themselves coming out when I needed them because there was no "personal style" to my budo. I study the ryu as faithfully as I can and it has taken good care of me so far.

    One of my DT/Arrest techniques instructors focused on two locks: kotegaeshi and ikkyo. That's it. He's a 25+ year veteran who has made a lot of arrests. He taught those because those are the only two he's ever used. He studied martial arts but they were all punching arts so punch them in the face and then ikkyo them. I like having more variety and I need more variety.

    We had a gumby in our dojo back in the day. The guy could rotate his hand like in kotegaeshi 360 degrees! I found keep twisting until the slack is gone is the best answer for that. Also they tend to only be hyper flexible in one direction. The other direction the tend to be tight. If kotegaeshi just keeps turning try a sankyo and I bet you'll get their attention.
    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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    One other point comes to mind, elicited by Chris C's post. Whether one can "change the order" depends on the pedagogical model. JsKR is a perfect example: as Chris C describes, there's really no way that one can start with the 2nd level or above techniques, because the first level are truly ground. That is true with THBR - with one exception. On the shoden level, there are naginata against naginata & naginata against sword. Until about 1930, the naginata/sword was practiced first. That changed when naginatajutsu was added to the school system for girls, to aid in the development of the mindset deemed necessary in the build-up towards WWII. The dual naginata forms were introduced, because one only had to teach one weapon to the kids instead of two. That order has been maintained since. I don't think it makes any difference, really, because the same groundwork/basics is equally and identically in both sets.

    With Araki-ryu, there are whole areas where one could choose to start with any number of sets, because they have the same core. Hence, when it comes to weapons I, mostly teaching individually, have started one guy with spear, another with sword, another with bo, and one with chained weapons. Moving to another weapon will be a side-ways step rather than a "step up." In this case, one gets deeper and deeper in the ryu within the same kata sets, rather as in many other ryu, in a progression of different forms which offer different principles.

    Best
    Ellis Amdur

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