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Thread: Koryu vs Gendai

  1. #46
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Colo Spgs, CO USA
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    I would call most Japanese 'nominal Buddhists' as most Western Christians are also 'nominal'. They're by and large Buddhist and Christian in name only, because they don't actually follow the founders of their faith by practicing the precepts that they taught. In most cases they were simply "born" into those classifications.

    An excellent little book that looks at these two faiths in particular is: "The Lotus and the Cross" by Ravi Zacharias.

    I think looking at similarities can help make some sense of different traditions initially perhaps, but if they're really different then it does more damage than good over the long run. People tend to look at things through the lenses and prejudices of their previous experiences and knowledge. This is natural, but does not serve the purpose of really progressing to where you really understand or master anything at it's deeper levels.

    If I continued to look only for similarities between aikido which I studied formerly and Daito-ryu, then I would never understand very much of what Daito-ryu has to offer. To master anything you have to come with an "empty cup" you have to adopt a "beginner's mind", this means letting go of, and distinguishing between one's previous knowledge and experiences and new knowledge and experiences. These are classic examples of Japanese budo and martial wisdom that are violated by continuing to look for similarities rather than distinctions. Real progress and growth comes from discovering and understanding distinctions not similarities. The whole idea of "letting go" is also very Buddhist, but even though Christianity has some similar teachings, the two are not at all similiar in faith or practice.

    With regard to budo I believe that only after recognizing fundamental distinctions are adept practitioners really able to make sense of and see similarities in their proper or enlightened light.


    Brently Keen
    Last edited by Brently Keen; 9th January 2002 at 02:22.

  2. #47
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    Tokyo, Japan
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    Question Gendai to Koryu

    I would like to hear opinions from some of the more experienced members who train in Koryu traditions. I am currently studying Gendai Budo, in the future I would like to eventually study in some Koryu Traditions, is studying Gendai arts a good way to go or will I pick up some bad habits that will be hard to break later and prove counter productive?

    my current reasoning involves my inexperience with Japanese language and culture which would prove detrimental and the wish to build a solid foundation to pursue my long term goals, any opinions on this is it the normal method and I am also curious about other peoples experience too.
    Andrew Brandon

  3. #48
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Kingston, Canada
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    this is the course that my training took, i.e. began with aikido and eventually shifted into Shinto Muso-ryu jo. i think the advantage with starting out as a student of a gendai school and then moving into a koryu group is that, in general, gendai schools will give you a good grounding in the traditional behaviours and etiquette without expecting you to understand those things right from the jump. naturally, every school has their own character or atmosphere which must be "internalized" or "sussed out", but there are baselines that are almost always respected.

    the language issue is perhaps not as big a problem as you might imagine, but i can't discount the usefulness of strong japanese skills. having one ear open and ready to take instruction shouted from across the dojo floor helps to avoid teacher frustration! the upside is that most koryu teachers expect you to speak even less than gendai teachers do: shut up, follow their instruction closely, and most times everything should go smoothly.

    i don't think that there are too many "bad habits" that one can pick up from gendai training. only if you persist in trying to maintain a habit that your new koryu teacher has told you to give up will you run into trouble. as my jo teacher often says, "strive to avoid having me repeat an instruction; if you fail to correct yourself, then the meaning of training is lost."

    unlike other heavyweights here, i don't speak from a wealth of experience, but i believe that what i've written is true of my own experience with koryu training. if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to write again. if you haven't had a chance to check out some of the articles at Koryu Books about getting a start in koryu arts, i'd highly recommend them.
    Jeff Hamacher
    Those who speak do not know,
    Those who know will not speak ...
    So I guess that means I don't know a thing!

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