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Thread: The purpose of the ryu

  1. #46
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    In Genbukan we are indeed able to learn specific ryuha.
    first of all, elements of specific ryuha are identifiable in the Genbukan and KJJR curriculum. What we learn comes directly from the ryuha in many cases. Then there are the 1st dan requirements, which are specific kata from specific ryuha. IIRC 3 times 6 kata (from 3 named ryuha) with their ura and omote variants.

    After BB, we're allowed to receive licensing in specific ryuha as well. So I can work my way from Shoden, to Kaiden and receive the transmission. There are various requirements for being allowed, and this is beyond the scope of this discussion.

    I think it is fair to say that schooling in the general GBK and KJJR curriculum is not the same as learning a koryu art. Even though the training methods are fairly similar to koryu, the reality is just that as a whole, it is just different from the way that things go when you actually join a koryu. Koryu transmission teaches specific concepts. The general curriculum does not do that. We learn the techniques, and our concepts are a mash of the concepts, the way Soke wants us to learn them, which is his own interpretation. And of course, we do not have the cultural content of a koryu.

    Even when we receive licensing in a ryuha, we can argue about whether that consists koryu transmission or not. By the time we'll get to menkyo kaiden (which in my case will be ... probably never) we'll have received a full transmission of the system, including kuden. So from that pov the transmission is legit.

    However, for the people not living in Japan, most of the transmission of the ryuha is done in (BB) seminars on taikai where also the testing is done, via dvd (for preparing for the taikai) and is built on top of the basics which were learned as part of the general curriculum. So while the content of the ryuha was transmitted whole, it was done in a manner that is not the way things are done in other koryu systems. This is of course a matter of opinion. I could see arguments either way. In the end, the most important thing is that the lines continue and that the system survives.
    武道は花道ではありません

    Diplomacy is about haggling with people you'd prefer to shoot, which results in agreements that everyone hates, but can't live without.

    To practice deadly but not drilled fully OR not deadly but drilled against full resistance; that is the question.

  2. #47
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    You have mentioned a few times the idea of Koryu training to prepare you for a "real fight", talking about having someone "massive on top of you" and raining down punches, and contrasting that with a kata performed formally at an Embu, you have stated that self defence is a major part of why you are training, above you talk about "some of us like to play in a more realistic or 'application/bunkai' more than to perform kata endlessly", and so on. This is great, but completely irrelevant. If these are the way you think about things, you are not suited to Koryu (for the most part... I do think about these things a lot as well, and that makes up the "modern" sections of my classes, but it's a non-issue for Koryu training, or even the traditional side of my Ninjutsu classes).

    As the thread title indicates, the concept is "the puporse of the Ryu", not "the reasons people can train in Koryu", or "what you can get out of Koryu". That's not what they're there for. You (the potential student), and what you want to get out of the training, are completely irrelevant. You don't matter. What you want doesn't matter. Whether you want to be a completely badass streetfighter or not doesn't matter. What arts you want on your resume doesn't matter. Really, "you" don't matter at all. All that matters is what you can do for the Ryu, not the other way around..
    'Zactly.

    What I was getting from ElfTengu's earlier posts was why don't the Koryu "get with it" and train to prepare for real, MODERN fights or somesuch. Fair question.

    In my opinion, that way lies death for Koryu. "Getting with it" is exactly why the martial traditions of Renaissance Europe died out. There are no longsword masters alive today, no Ringen masters, not even any rapier masters. Koryu are already dying out in places, because the Japanese aren't learning from the history of European martial arts. There's no need to find more nails and coffins. The idea is to preserve the ryu. Nothing else matters. When you make modernity your goal, then you lose the longsword and get stuck with foil, sabre and epee. I'd rather have all of it.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
    www.forgewma.com
    "Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft, I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."
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  3. #48
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by Langenschwert View Post
    'Zactly.

    What I was getting from ElfTengu's earlier posts was why don't the Koryu "get with it" and train to prepare for real, MODERN fights or somesuch. Fair question.

    In my opinion, that way lies death for Koryu. "Getting with it" is exactly why the martial traditions of Renaissance Europe died out. There are no longsword masters alive today, no Ringen masters, not even any rapier masters. Koryu are already dying out in places, because the Japanese aren't learning from the history of European martial arts. There's no need to find more nails and coffins. The idea is to preserve the ryu. Nothing else matters. When you make modernity your goal, then you lose the longsword and get stuck with foil, sabre and epee. I'd rather have all of it.

    Best regards,

    -Mark

    +100000

    That is the big irony of JMA. Tanemura sensei mentions in the foreword of the jujutsu handbook that part of the reason for opening up the traditional jujutsu (and ninjutsu related ryuha) for the west was that fewer and fewer Japanese people were interested in those teachings. And this seems to be true. If you look at the master level instructors page of Genbukan, you'll see that all but a couple of older Japanese Shihan are westerners. There is not a single Japanese master level instructor listed (other than those few older shihan who have been with Soke since the beginning).

    I think that westerners value the Japanese arts more because we know what we lost and there is no way to get it back, whereas the Japanese don't yet realize this, or perhaps they don't care, or even think it is appropriate. Fujita Seiko thought that ninjutsu should die (or at least stay secret) instead of being opened to the world.
    武道は花道ではありません

    Diplomacy is about haggling with people you'd prefer to shoot, which results in agreements that everyone hates, but can't live without.

    To practice deadly but not drilled fully OR not deadly but drilled against full resistance; that is the question.

  4. #49
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by Langenschwert View Post
    'Zactly.

    What I was getting from ElfTengu's earlier posts was why don't the Koryu "get with it" and train to prepare for real, MODERN fights or somesuch. Fair question.
    Like Tsunetomo's ideal samurai I rush in shooting without considering the consequences. I've been doing it for a decade or more and still haven't learned my lesson!

    If I had known/considered that koryuha make no claims of combat effectiveness, I would probably not have caused such a kerfuffle.

    I know what it is though, it is my inner demons insisting that anything 'martial', especially a martial art, must at the very least be a live effective fighting method, and maintain that effectiveness through the centuries and into the future, and that principles never change that much because humans can only batter other humans in a finite number of ways. So no need to change kata, just different ways of applying the principles contained within the kata, but then this is what my approach is with my Bujinkan studies. Of course there could be new kata, with Tori holding a CO2 fire extinguisher in one hand and an Ingam M11 in the other, but these would be new kata and not affect the old. But I see now that this is not the way of koryuha. I just am not convinced that the koryuha came into existence merely to exist and then prepertuate that existence, I believe they came into being to consolidate practical combat methods contemporary to the time of their formation, with a very real focus on effectiveness when life and death encounters were far more likely (with sword fights). So my confusion comes from the idea that if something was created for a specific practical reason, but continued verbatim for centuries without the original raison-d'etre, how can it really be the same thing, and how can it really be being preserved in its original state?

    Quote Originally Posted by Langenschwert View Post
    In my opinion, that way lies death for Koryu. "Getting with it" is exactly why the martial traditions of Renaissance Europe died out. There are no longsword masters alive today, no Ringen masters, not even any rapier masters.
    Don't try this line of logic on Swordforum.com

    They get very worked up. I made the mistake of asking how they can claim to be have rediscovered European martial traditions solely from illustrations in books without the skills being passed down physically from master to student in unbroken lineages. But they claim that their reconstructed skills are every bit as legitimate as any Oriental art with unbroken lineages.


    Quote Originally Posted by Langenschwert View Post
    Koryu are already dying out in places, because the Japanese aren't learning from the history of European martial arts. There's no need to find more nails and coffins. The idea is to preserve the ryu. Nothing else matters. When you make modernity your goal, then you lose the longsword and get stuck with foil, sabre and epee. I'd rather have all of it.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
    You can't force people to care. Those koryu practitioners who it emerges are no more than assimilated Borg in the eyes of their respective collective, would not be training at all if they didn't have some kind of calling or enjoy it immensely.

    The ironic thing is that the exotic factor always plays a part too. I'm sure that some of those young Japanese people who don't care for their own nation's koryuha are dressing up in European, Fantasy and Sci fi costumes and waving big foam swords around, but perhaps it has more to do with the freedom of expression in occidental waggling that appeals more than being under the auspices of a fierce old guy moulding them into something not of their own choosing.
    Martial arts don't fight, systems don't fight, techniques don't fight. Bodies (and minds) fight, and only in a finite number of ways.

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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by ElfTengu View Post
    Don't try this line of logic on Swordforum.com

    They get very worked up. I made the mistake of asking how they can claim to be have rediscovered European martial traditions solely from illustrations in books without the skills being passed down physically from master to student in unbroken lineages. But they claim that their reconstructed skills are every bit as legitimate as any Oriental art with unbroken lineages.
    Well yes and no. The manuals are much, much more than pictures. Many are technical treatises that go into great detail. I do both koryu and reconstructed European martial arts. The recon effort itself is legitimate. Not all schools and practicioners are, but you can say that about any MA. The manuals are in effect the koryu of the west. If you've got a solid MA background, then yes you can arrive at something legitimate. But that's not what we're discussing now.

    Best regards,

    -Mark
    www.forgewma.com
    "Who despises me and my praiseworthy craft, I'll hit on the head that it resounds in his heart."
    -Augustin Staidt, Federfechter

  6. #51
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by ElfTengu View Post
    If I had known/considered that koryuha make no claims of combat effectiveness, I would probably not have caused such a kerfuffle.

    I know what it is though, it is my inner demons insisting that anything 'martial', especially a martial art, must at the very least be a live effective fighting method, and maintain that effectiveness through the centuries and into the future, and that principles never change that much because humans can only batter other humans in a finite number of ways. So no need to change kata, just different ways of applying the principles contained within the kata, but then this is what my approach is with my Bujinkan studies. Of course there could be new kata, with Tori holding a CO2 fire extinguisher in one hand and an Ingam M11 in the other, but these would be new kata and not affect the old. But I see now that this is not the way of koryuha. I just am not convinced that the koryuha came into existence merely to exist and then prepertuate that existence, I believe they came into being to consolidate practical combat methods contemporary to the time of their formation, with a very real focus on effectiveness when life and death encounters were far more likely (with sword fights). So my confusion comes from the idea that if something was created for a specific practical reason, but continued verbatim for centuries without the original raison-d'etre, how can it really be the same thing, and how can it really be being preserved in its original state?
    Well to be fair, koryu ARE combat effective. Very much so. But just within the parameters for which they were created. For example, as far as sword styles go, HNIR seems to be very effective within the context for which Musashi created it (it was born out of his duelling experiences)

    I've heard it contains little to no real iai practice. So if drawing the sword and making the first cut are important for what you do (for example as a feudal bodyguard) then there are better things to learn. Otoh, if your personal concept of combat consists of open fighting of known opponents (meaning you already have your weapon out) then it is probably the bees knees.

    You could argue that things could be added by the current Soke to make it more effective for other approaches, but that is not the point of koryu. You are right that they didn't just spring into existence without a reason, just for the point of continuing the ryuha. They are about preserving the ryuha, within the parameters and concepts for which it was developed and for which it IS effective.

    Quote Originally Posted by ElfTengu View Post
    You can't force people to care. Those koryu practitioners who it emerges are no more than assimilated Borg in the eyes of their respective collective, would not be training at all if they didn't have some kind of calling or enjoy it immensely.
    True.

    Quote Originally Posted by ElfTengu View Post
    The ironic thing is that the exotic factor always plays a part too. I'm sure that some of those young Japanese people who don't care for their own nation's koryuha are dressing up in European, Fantasy and Sci fi costumes and waving big foam swords around, but perhaps it has more to do with the freedom of expression in occidental waggling that appeals more than being under the auspices of a fierce old guy moulding them into something not of their own choosing.
    1 word: Baseball.
    武道は花道ではありません

    Diplomacy is about haggling with people you'd prefer to shoot, which results in agreements that everyone hates, but can't live without.

    To practice deadly but not drilled fully OR not deadly but drilled against full resistance; that is the question.

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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    fascinating discussion; learned a lot. Thanks for it everyone!

    edit/add: regarding self-defense and koryu. I have no doubt that a koryu practioner could defend themselves in many situations due to their body mechanics practice - a bar brawl involving an attack with a pool cue comes to mind

    Rob
    Last edited by RRepster; 06-08-2011 at 04:11 PM. Reason: see edit/add line.

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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Also, it is very important to remember that the koryu's mission is not to create a fight champ as fast as possible. But to create a fight champ inside the said ryu-ha's principle. This means that things will take a long time. Several stages is need to ensure that he is formed by the schools flavor. This again shows that priority 1 is the continuation of correct teaching in said ryu. True, what is a practitioner worth if he completely lacks fighting skills, but more important is, what use have koryu schools of a bunch of fighters without a slightest care towards the teachings of a ryu. This is also why there will always be few koryu practitioners.
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    We all realise that a true combative encounter won't possibly happen the way a kata is presented (in fact, I can only think of a handful of examples of Ryu that teach exact methods that have a basis in tried and tested violence), so the thing is to look at what the training is supposed to actually teach, and from there, gain an understanding of who was supposed to benefit, how, and why.
    I am very interested in the complex nature in which exact method kata are required to be interconnected in order to maintain their usefulness, would you kindly share the examples of Ryu that use them?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    Hatsumi has disallowed Koryu groups to view his scrolls for the necessary verification, which was his right and prerogative
    If I am understanding this correctly does it mean Hatsumi has essentially been granted the reins of several Koryu and then dis-honoured every last one ultimately relegating them to the history books while not only choosing his own personal wishes over the survival of the Ryu in his care but also selfishly witholding documentation which may assist those who do wish to preserve them?

    Can this even be possible? With everything that has been said about the strict practices of Koryu traditions how can such a tragic mistake have been made?

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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    If I am understanding this correctly does it mean Hatsumi has essentially been granted the reins of several Koryu and then dis-honoured every last one ultimately relegating them to the history books while not only choosing his own personal wishes over the survival of the Ryu in his care but also selfishly witholding documentation which may assist those who do wish to preserve them?

    Can this even be possible? With everything that has been said about the strict practices of Koryu traditions how can such a tragic mistake have been made?
    He's not teaching koryu martial arts. It's that simple. He has (kind of understandably) chosen not to submit the scrolls entrusted to him to the process of verification. His call; they're HIS trust. He was entrusted with a set of traditions and arts, and the responsibility to either pass them on or to make the call that they should not be passed on further. The method he has chosen (at the moment) is through the Bujinkan. It's not a mistake. It's his decision. Many documented ninjutsu systems were consciously ended (most notably the Koga-ryu school of Fujita Seiko) or simply not passed on. (It's even theoretically possible, if quite unlikely, that there are some that have been secretly or quietly maintained within families and not taught outside those family lines... not to give credibility to the numerous secret master stories!)

    There's no obligation or duty for anyone to submit their training to verification as koryu or not. The effect on their "legitimacy" is limited.
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Quote Originally Posted by jks9199 View Post
    He's not teaching koryu martial arts. It's that simple.
    I know he is not, that is a precursor for my question. My question is how can someone entrusted with the preservation of multiple legitimate Koryu terminate them? If Koryu have such stringent protocols for transmission, what went so drastically wrong that licenses and scrolls have been left with a man more interested in his own little invention than the preservation of the Koryu in his care.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    The X-Kan are modern organisations, each teaching their own interpretation of various arts, which in the case of the Bujinkan resulted in basically a new martial art known as Budo Taijutsu, and in the Genbukan became a standardised system refered to as Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu. The arts that go into making up these systems are a mixture of established and unquestioned Koryu traditions and other arts that make that claim, but have some verification issues about them. However, although these individual systems are Koryu, that does not make the organisations themselves Koryu.
    Perhaps I am wrong and have mis-interpreted the quote above as I have taken it to mean some of the Ryu Hatsumi no longer teaches were/are in fact Koryu.

    edit: as for the Fugita Seiko story about deliberately relegating his art to the history books, well never a greater piece of codswallop have I heard, I mean really? I would be more inclined to believe the yakusa whacked him for intending to pass it on and at least that would translate better to the silver screen.
    Last edited by Stealthy; 07-19-2011 at 03:45 AM.

  12. #57
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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Oh boy, lot's to address here....

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    After all, we all realise that a true combative encounter won't possibly happen the way a kata is presented (in fact, I can only think of a handful of examples of Ryu that teach exact methods that have a basis in tried and tested violence), so the thing is to look at what the training is supposed to actually teach, and from there, gain an understanding of who was supposed to benefit, how, and why.
    I am very interested in the complex nature in which exact method kata are required to be interconnected in order to maintain their usefulness, would you kindly share the examples of Ryu that use them?
    Not sure you quite get what I meant there.... what I am refering to is that there are scant kata within the various Ryu that I am familiar with where the exact actions and movements from a real encounter have been preserved in a kata form... mainly because that can be a limited usage of kata transmission, as a more "designed" kata can include far more information and many more lessons. But, for the record, much of Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu is said to have come from Musashi's duelling experience (particularly the first set, or the Itto Seiho, with the later sections being far more strategic examples), or the initial kata of some lines of Araki Ryu, where you offer a guest some tea, then attack them. The story goes that the founder of the Araki Ryu used that method to kill a friend of his after being ordered to by his Daimyo (interestingly, a number of other Ryu-ha have this kata, or at least a variation of it, but without the annecdote alongside).

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    Hatsumi has disallowed Koryu groups to view his scrolls for the necessary verification, which was his right and prerogative.
    If I am understanding this correctly does it mean Hatsumi has essentially been granted the reins of several Koryu and then dis-honoured every last one ultimately relegating them to the history books while not only choosing his own personal wishes over the survival of the Ryu in his care but also selfishly witholding documentation which may assist those who do wish to preserve them?

    Can this even be possible? With everything that has been said about the strict practices of Koryu traditions how can such a tragic mistake have been made?
    Whether or not a Koryu survives has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with it being recognised by anyone, or being part of any type of club, so there's no basis for your concern there. The former head of the Kashima Shinryu, Kunii Zen'ya, also refused to be a part of a Koryu organisation, and they're very well respected as well (and, like the Bujinkan arts, almost unknown, except to a few practitioners, until the mid 20th Century).

    You have misunderstood, Hatsumi has dishonoured nothing, relegated nothing to the history books, has simply done what he feels is best for their continued survival, by putting them together in a form that many around the world now practice. The preservation of a Ryu is entirely in the hands of the membership of that Ryu, not in the hands of a Koryu commitee or organisation. They have no authority, no way to pass on anything in their group, it really is just a collection of the heads and membership of a number of Ryu (not all of them) who come together for mutual benefit in things like public demonstrations etc. But being a member in no way means that your art will make it to the next generation if there are no students, and not being a member doesn't condemn it to anything.

    [QUOTE=Stealthy;1414473][QUOTE=jks9199;1414470]He's not teaching koryu martial arts.QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    I know he is not, that is a precursor for my question. My question is how can someone entrusted with the preservation of multiple legitimate Koryu terminate them? If Koryu have such stringent protocols for transmission, what went so drastically wrong that licenses and scrolls have been left with a man more interested in his own little invention than the preservation of the Koryu in his care.
    Stealthy, there's a lot of misunderstanding in this post here, but to keep it simple, it's up to Hatsumi what he does with the arts he has been given, nothing has gone "wrong" at all, it's up to the Soke to do what he can to protect the Ryu, and if that means ending it so it doesn't fall in status, that is what happens, if it means turning it into something completely new (as in Budo Taijutsu) in order to preserve the essence of each, that is what happens. You're bringing your own values (which, honestly, are coming from an incomplete understanding of the topic) and trying to apply them where they have no place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Parker View Post
    The X-Kan are modern organisations, each teaching their own interpretation of various arts, which in the case of the Bujinkan resulted in basically a new martial art known as Budo Taijutsu, and in the Genbukan became a standardised system refered to as Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu. The arts that go into making up these systems are a mixture of established and unquestioned Koryu traditions and other arts that make that claim, but have some verification issues about them. However, although these individual systems are Koryu, that does not make the organisations themselves Koryu.
    Perhaps I am wrong and have mis-interpreted the quote above as I have taken it to mean some of the Ryu Hatsumi no longer teaches were/are in fact Koryu.
    No, you got it wrong. Out of the 9 Ryu-ha that Hatsumi heads, 2 are absolutely unquestioned koryu traditions in their own right, some of the others have some evidence to support them, and others are lacking anything outside of Takamatsu's and Hatsumi's say so. That's all.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stealthy View Post
    edit: as for the Fugita Seiko story about deliberately relegating his art to the history books, well never a greater piece of codswallop have I heard, I mean really? I would be more inclined to believe the yakusa whacked him for intending to pass it on and at least that would translate better to the silver screen.
    This what I meant by an incomplete understanding, and bringing your own values into it. Condemning your art to history, rather than pass it onto someone who may not be worthy of recieving it, or passing it down to a time where it is no longer of value to society, is the norm. Seiko Fujita was far from the first to do so, and is not likely to be the last. The idea of the Yakuza "whacking him" is far less plausible once you bring an understanding of the Japanese approach to such things into it.
    With respect,
    Chris Parker

    www.ninjutsuaustralia.com

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    Re: The purpose of the ryu

    Fantastic, thanks for that. I figured I was wrong but it was worth asking anyway.

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