Instructing in the Koryu arts, from a different thread ...

Discussion in 'Koryu Corner' started by pgsmith, Apr 3, 2012.

  1. Sanke

    Sanke Green Belt

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    I've got to ask Glenn, where exactly are you going with all this? You realise you're telling one of the big koryu guys on this site that he's got "10 years max" and you "don't think you are a menkyo candidate type", without any understanding of what the koryu are, let alone the system he trains in, right? And you don't see that as insulting?

    Seriously, what makes you think you are in a position to comment on that?

     
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  2. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    If what you say is true, that I am without understanding of what the koryu are, then why would one of the big koryu guys on this site care what my opinion is? or for that matter why would you care? Put another way, I don't care what you think or say about me....
     
  3. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    You seriously have to be freakin' joking here, right? I'll spell it out for you, as you seem to be under a fair few delusions here.

    - You are in the Koryu section, not the TKD one.
    - You are completely ignorant of pretty much everything to do with Koryu, to the point of all your posts showing incorrect assumptions and ideas.
    - When you do that in the Koryu section, it gets corrected.
    - When you are making those kind of mistakes in the Koryu section, absolutely I care about what is put here, and what your opinion is. If it's informed, there's no problem. If it's uninformed, but you take correction, there's no problem. When it's uninformed, and you argue against the correction, then we have a problem, because you are contributing no worth by being here.
    - It doesn't matter whether you care what Sanke says about you, what I say about you, or anything else, when you come into the Koryu section, and continually make the mistakes you have, without accepting correction, or even entertaining the idea that you could be wrong (you are, grossly, by the way), you are adding nothing of value to this forum.
    - When you enter the Koryu section, but have no interest in what the actual Koryu persons are telling you, you are adding nothing of value to this forum.

    In other words, if what we say is true (that you are without understanding of what the Koryu are, which is true, by the way, and all evidence is found in your posts), why would you care what one of the actual Koryu guys on the site care about what you're saying? Because you're misrepresenting Koryu, due to the fact that you have absolutely nothing to refer to in this area. If you don't care about the comments of the Koryu guys, why are you in the Koryu section?

    Stay, accept that this is an area you don't know anything about, and learn, or don't bother opening the door. Koryu aren't for everyone (you've said as much in regard to yourself, although you honestly actually showed you didn't get the training methods then as well), and by the same reasoning, the Koryu section isn't for anyone who doesn't want to learn or contribute properly.

    And before you say it, this is a very Koryu attitude. The question isn't what we can do for you, you realise.
     
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  4. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    Is it a delusion to think that anger isn't the way to go?
    http://www.koryu.com/library/dlowry9.html

    Is it a delusion to think that understanding japanese culture helps in the study on any japanese martial arts including the koryu arts?
    http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss7.html

    Is it a delusion to think that in order to be a teacher of koryu that you either must have spent time in Japan or study under someone who has done the time?
    http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss1.html

    Put another way, as much as you would like to turn this into a "puunui knows nothing about koryu, his opinion is invalid", what it really is about is you, and others like you. You obviously have some sort of mental, emotional, psychological or spiritual block about living and studying in japan. And that block, in my ignorant, don't know nothing about anything opinion, is preventing you from achieving your highest and fullest potential. I am not against you. I think you have talent and more important than that, you have tremendous desire and focus. Look how much energy and passion you are putting into this discussion. I think this stuff comes naturally to you, much more so than others. I think if you went to japan you have a chance to be one of the greats in koryu. I think if you do go to japan and spent ten or twenty years there, you could prove your point that you do not have to have japanese blood in order to fully understand koryu arts. I also think you are running out of time. I think there is a pattern of non-japanese practitioners who have gone on to achieve great things in koryu by moving to japan, one of which is that they went when they were relatively young, in their twenties or early thirties. That is why I give you ten more years, because at that point, it will probably be too late to make a long term commitment to living and training in japan.
     
  5. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    Honestly as for sources about koryu or JSA in general, there are many, many more informed sources than the Skoss's or Lowry.

    One need not to have to go to Japan to study koryu or to be “great” at koryu, anymore then someone has to come to Canada to learn ice hockey or the US to learn baseball. It is a very small world these days.

    It’s koryu, if you want to practice it, go find it and practice it, it’s really not that big of a deal. I have and do train in many koryu, so what? It means little if anything in the real world. The only value to koryu is the one we as individuals put on them.
     
  6. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Wow, guys... You're all well endowed.

    Let's drop the pissing matches, and focus on the actual topic at hand, OK. Before someone has to get all officially moderatery and all...

    If you're wondering -- yeah, that's warning. If you're not sure it applies to you -- it probably does.
     
  7. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    I was told that koryu.com is a good place for koryu information. But if there are many more informed sources, I would like to hear about them. Can you name some names?

    Staying with the original topic, is it possible to be "great" at koryu without studying in Japan for at least a little while? If so, which arts would those be and who would be the teachers outside of Japan who can make someone great without having to live in Japan for an extended period of time?

    How hard would it be to gain a teaching license outside of Japan? Do you know of any practitioners to have not gone to Japan and received the highest teaching license in a koryu? If so, who are those people, and what art do they teach?

    I'm curious because the articles cited say that living continuously in Japan for at least five years, being able to converse in Japanese, etc. are all important to be a koryu teacher.
     
  8. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    In light of JKS's comment, this will be as dispassionate as possible to try to explain why there are still problems with what is being put forth.

    That article is Dave Lowry's take on his personal development, and it is, in the main, correct. A large part of the training is a focus on Mushin, or Fudoshin, for a range of reasons, however that does not mean that you never get angry, and Koryu practitioners are some kind of blissful, ever-appeased saints. There are large numbers of stories I could tell you that demonstrate this point, vengeful, vidictive teachers who were barely more than bullies, and some of these are considered some of the most talented and respected teachers of various systems around (and yes, Japanese).

    The thing is, though, it again comes down to context. What is the cause of the anger? Is it irrational, ego based, or is it due to a reasonable external stimulus? Should you come up against me in a training hall, you'll find that anger isn't an issue I have, but dealing with me personally, when I'm faced with consistent harassment, then I feel that anger, or more realistically frustration, is warranted. And yes, that is perfectly fine in Koryu...

    To think that it helps? No. To think that current Japanese society is really related to Koryu culture, though, is. To talk about bowing protocols in modern Japanese society, and believe that that is of utmost importance, as it reflects the etiquette of the Ryu, is. The actual reiho (etiquette) of the Ryu is quite different, and that is what needs to be understood. Having an understanding of Japanese culture can be an entrance into that, but that's really it. And the reason is that the Koryu community has opened up a great deal over recent years.

    The important thing is to have the connection. What geographic location that connection has been established in is getting to be of less importance... but I'll look to this again in a little bit.

    Again, whether you know anything or not isn't the issue, it is how you have taken correction. You continued to argue against people actually involved in these arts. You made a comment, you were corrected, and you continued to make the same comment, to the point of trying to tell me that I was wrong. That is what made your opinion invalid, the fact that you were showing it to have no basis, and have no willingness to improve that state of affairs.

    It hasn't ever been about me.

    No, I really don't. Trust me, there is no block there at all. Additionally, your comment about my "highest and fullest potential", well, that doesn't really have any basis either. The way I achieve my highest and fullest potential is simple... I keep training.

    I am putting energy and passion into the discussion for a couple of reasons. Firstly, Koryu is a great love of mine. Second, I'm rather protective of Koryu, so when things are put down that are incorrect, I will want to correct them (and more importantly, the person making the statements/expressing the ideas themselves). And thirdly, you were baiting me with a range of insults.

    See, that's the thing. That is never an aim. That aim is, in fact, anathema to training in Koryu. I have no intention of being "one of the greats", I have an intention of doing the best by my chosen Ryu, and doing all I can to protect them and ensure they survive and are passed on to the next generation of practitioners.

    It hasn't ever been about me.

    I have no need to prove any point, it has been proven by many others over a long period before me. And no, I'm not running out of time at all. I will say, though, that you are unaware of my longer-term plans and aims, so there isn't really any basis for you to make any assumption or express any such belief.

    No, there isn't. There is a collection of Western practitioners who have trained in Japan, or in the West (increasingly, these days), who have been recognised within the community for their level of understanding and knowledge. The rest is a case of post hoc ergo propter hoc, but I'll deal with that in a moment.

    Actually, you were told to visit koryu.com as it's a good place for an introduction to Koryu. The aim was that you would get some form of baseline from which we could then begin to discuss things in more detail, however you seem to have misunderstood, or just plain missed, most of the pertinent details there.

    When it comes to more informed sources, as with anything in this community, it comes down to personal contacts. I, for example, count quite a number as friends. But to get to the point where you are getting such information and insight from them, you first need to demonstrate some form of base understanding. The greatest amount of information and insight comes from experience. So, if you are genuinely interested, you'd need to start over, both in terms of training (if you were wanting to train in Koryu), and in terms of the way you are approaching things here. I'd advise recognizing that the Koryu are still very much a private organisation (each Ryu itself), so when you are told something by myself, Paul, Ken, Sukerkin, or others involved, it is us letting you into our world, and letting you share something very private to us. We don't have to let you know anything, when it comes down to it (for the record, I'm a fan of letting information out, as much as is permitted, in order to improve understanding of the Ryu themselves, and Koryu in general), so I'd suggest being grateful and, for the most part, accepting what you're told.

    There's really no such thing as "being 'great' at Koryu", though. There really isn't. That's the thing that you've missed most of all, it's not about the practitioners, it's about the Ryu. Ideally, any teacher of any Koryu, whether in Japan or not, should be aiming to get the students to be good representatives of the Ryu itself, but if you want a list of names, that starts to get subjective. I could give quite a list, some would agree with all, some with most, some would disagree with a number as well.

    Which Ryu? It really does often come down to that. You can get a licence to teach Katori Shinto Ryu in the Sugino Dojo without necessarily spending decades in Japan, (yearly trips for as little as a week or so might do), but the Otake Dojo would be a different story. Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu and Muso Shinden Ryu, as well as Shinto Muso Ryu are so widespread that you might never go to Japan. The Soke and Sodenke lines of Takeuchi Ryu have a single dojo each, literally down the road from each other, in Japan, so you can't even take a single lesson in those lines of that Ryu without going to Japan... but the Bitchu-den line has dojo in a number of Western locations.

    The thing to remember is that those articles were written near onto two decades ago, at a time when the number of Western dojo for Koryu could be counted on one hand. As a result, being able to speak Japanese was of paramount importance, otherwise you couldn't understand what was being said in the class, nor likely hold down a job to support yourself, or even ask directions to the dojo in the first place. These days, the story is different, with the necessary component being a connection to that Japanese head and fount. Is a connection to Japan important? Absolutely. Do you need to necessarily spend a decade in Japan? That depends on what's around you. For some Ryu, yes, absolutely. And some trips to Japan (at the least) will be required the higher you go in the Ryu... there does come a point where, if you're not going to Japan, then the connection isn't there.

    When it all comes down to it, the most important reason for spending time in Japan studying Koryu for a teacher of the Ryu is that you are a representative of the Ryu, and of the current head of that Ryu. So, that head needs to know whether or not they wish to vouch for you as being a representative, and that takes some time to build that kind of relationship. That's far more important than being immersed in modern Japanese culture, or even the corrections that you receive from your seniors, and as such, understanding Japanese just helps fascilitate that relationship... but there are a range of teachers who's Japanese is rudimentary at best... and they are, in cases, the most senior instructors, holding the highest licences available in their respective Ryu.
     
  9. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    To some extent Chris and I have some different perspectives on koryu, my teacher has made me quite pragmatic in my view of the JSA while Chris is much more passionate. Neither is right or wrong, just different. That all being said, I find no disagreement with Chris’s opinions of koryu in this thread.

    Years ago one could make a living by teaching sword in Japan, schools vied for paying students to walk in their front door and stay a while. Most samurai during this period likely trained slightly more than we do today, they had other duties to perform, they had to earn their keep. These were your koryu schools. And what do you do with the family business when the father passes on or retires? You give it to your sons, if they didn’t want it, you passed it onto that student who cared the most about your school, or the one that married your daughter or the one who gave you a **** load of cash. And so it went on. Often you would have multiple senior students each wanting to teach, but only one licence, so the students left out would go away and start their own schools.

    Were they any better or worse for lack of a piece of paper? No, they just didn’t have a piece of paper. Sometimes, people would train in multiple styles and collect multiple pieces of paper, when the time came they would open up a school and teach multiple styles, or call it something completely new. In the case where some of the kata were similar in the schools they taught, they would simplify and eliminate the duplication. The "lost" kata of such and such a school.....

    Move forward to modern day. Japan and the west now have many people who have trained in many koryu and are teaching in every corner of the world, because they don’t have that piece of paper means little, unless you want ranking in that one particular school.

    What happens with everybody during their first few years in the JSA is they collect kata. OK I know 153 different kata and variations from 6 different schools….All this is, is memorizing the dance steps to 153 dances. Once you realise that JSA is all the same, (this I believe is where Chris and I disagree), it simplifies everything, and you can be happy UNDERSTANDING 50 or 60 kata, not performing 50 or 60, but understanding them. If you chose those kata to be koryu because you want to be the saviour of some 400 year old Japanese tradition, or you feel they are the most effective or you chose seitei or whatever and they make you happy, do it. The important thing is to get your *** out there and practice JSA, not talking about it on a forum.

    More information. There are articles by different authors here. Go to the search feature on the bottom and type in koryu, search EJMAS. This is still only one more source for you. I claim a bias for this site too, it's my sensei's.
    http://www.ejmas.com/
     
  10. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    Look at the discussion that pgsmith and I had in the beginning of the thread. At first we were somewhat of a different opinion, and then after discussion did we reach a place where we agreed. Neither of us took the position of "correcting" the other.

    But then at some point, the training has to change, in focus, or location, whatever. If you simply continue to do the same thing over and over, it becomes more calisthenics than a progression or moving forward.


    No I was not, but I do understand that is how you took it.


    We are all running out of time. Give it a few more years and you will realize just how true that is, especially when your body starts breaking down, your memory starts going and in some cases, the injuries start to pile up.

    What is your long term plans and aims, in koryu?


    That was the name of a West Wing episode, which is how I came to know the phrase.


    No different in any other martial art really. Curious though, of those that you count as friends, how many have you actually met in person? As a general rule, I don't use the term "friend" lightly, and count very few of those myself. An incredibly small number, maybe one or two, if that many I would count among those I have never looked in the eye and shaken their hand.

    Koryu is the same as anything else, there is horrible and there is great and a lot in between. You are simply defining it as "great" representatives of the ryu. But who would be some that all people would agree with? Ellis Amdur? (His books came today by the way).

    The ryu that you are studying or wish to study and to which you aspire to be a good representative of.

    Are you at that point where you need to go to Japan to progress? if not, when do you think you will be at that point?

    I think understanding japanese culture and language makes everything so much smoother, don't you think? I mean I read your posts where you are explaining kanji, what it means, the context, etc., and think to myself you do have at least some interest in the language and culture. Don't you? Who knows, once you get there, you may never wish to leave, that it feels like home.
     
  11. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    So do you think the piece of paper is important? Or no?

    Isn't that a problem though, unauthorized people claiming to teach koryu arts?

    Yes, I have seen you post that opinion before.

    Thanks for the link. Who is your sensei?
     
  12. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    Do I personally think a piece of paper is important? No, but that is a decision each of us must make on our own, I have no right to make that decision for anyone else. What matters to me is simple, is their Japanese sword work “good”? I, and Mark, Paul and Chris, have all been around long enough to recognise “good” sword work from YouTube ninja crap, we don’t even need to know the school to be able to tell. It would take an experienced practitioner well under 20 seconds to tell if the person on the floor swinging a sword has a clue. Is he balanced correctly? Did he hit the target? Is he protecting himself? Is his grip correct? One can even tell someone’s lineage or teacher by how they move on the floor.

    Problem for who? Those that have and give out the piece of paper? It’s a business giving out essentially franchise agreements. If you have two people going to school and completing an apprentice-ship in auto mechanics at the same time, doing the same work, getting the same grades, and come graduation time student A gets his licence because he brought the teacher a coffee every morning, and student B gets nothing because the quota was full, who is better? Twenty years later if student B is still working hard, full time as a mechanic and student A is casual part time, who would you rather fix your car?

    My sensei is this guy: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~iaido/iai.kim.html
     
  13. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    I want to say I read a post where you mentioned that you were preparing for your 5th dan test. If you get promoted, does that mean that they won't be giving you a piece of paper?

    I remember reading an article on koryu.com about unlicensed uncertified people claiming to teach koryu arts when they have no business doing so. So I would think that it would be a problem for the koryu arts, as well as those that have and give out the pieces of paper for those koryu arts.

    It lists him as a 7th Dan, so he must have his paper then.
     
  14. Ken Morgan

    Ken Morgan Senior Master

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    Ah I see, no. I believe you misunderstand. When I am talking about a piece of paper, I’m very specifically talking about a licence to teach a koryu bestowed upon a student by the headmaster of a koryu school. A teaching licence for a koryu may be given to anyone the headmaster wishes. Very different from a grading.
     
  15. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    As Sanke asked a few posts back, pu, what are you seeking here?

    Are you really trying to learn something, or are you just entertaining yourself?

    In their own ways, each is fine, just as long as there is no pretence as to which is which.

    Seeking to be disagreeable and argumentative for its own sake, however, is really not what any of us would care to see on MT in those areas that are outside of the Study.
     
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  16. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Have the courage to speak softly

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    Could you point me to these statements about which I should be embarrassed? I have been known to be intemperate about religion and politics but I don't recall anything in this thread (or similar) that might require me to take a hard look in the mirror to see if I could still meet my own gaze. If such statements have been made then I'd appreciate knowing where they are, in context, so I can avoid making such mistakes again. No one likes to disgrace themselves unnecessarily in such a public forum as the internet after all.
     
  17. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    I don't remember. I would think it doesn't really matter at this point, since the discussion has progressed quite a distance since that was brought up.
     
  18. pgsmith

    pgsmith Master Black Belt

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    "When they have no business doing so" are the words that make a difference here. That doesn't mean that only those with a particular license should be teaching, it means that only those with the permission of the school should be teaching. There are six dojo in the U.S. for the art that I currently practice. Only one of them has an instructor with a license, but all have the permission of the head of the school to exist. However, there are a number of people in the US that have had a little bit of training in an art, and then have gone off to start their own dojo claiming to teach said art, even though they don't have permission or the requisite knowledge, nor do they have a connection to the original school in order to learn properly.


    In an earlier post in this thread, I was speaking for the art I currently practice only as I don't have intimate knowledge of other arts. However, all that I am even a little familiar with are pretty much the same in that the requirements for gradings are pretty specific, whereas licenses are entirely up to the head of the school.
     
  19. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    The OP is Paul correcting you (and referencing me to do so). Frankly the idea that you were here discussing things with Koryu practitioners with neither you nor them taking the position of "correcting" each other (the idea that you are in any position to even begin to correct anyone on this topic) is arrogant beyond belief.

    You needed to be corrected, and you were corrected.

    You may also note that I started out civilly until your backhanded comment to Paul that you enjoyed talking to him as you got to express yourself politely (with the implication that conversing with others, seemingly aimed at me, did not afford you such politeness...). That's where it went off the rails.

    Why does it need to change? Consistency is far more preferable from a Koryu point of view, really. And no, it really doesn't ever become calisthenics. And it is the consistent repetition that enables you to move forward with your practice.

    Again, one of my Ryu has 12 kata in it's first section, 7 in it's second, and 5 in it's third. That's 24 kata total. And whether I go to Japan, England, Canada, or stay here, there remain 12 kata in it's first section, 7 in it's second, and 5 in it's third. The reason to go to Japan is to get personal correction from my seniors and to be a part of the Ryu (the community that the Ryu is).

    We really, really do do the same thing over and over, you realise.

    It was pointed out to you repeatedly. If it was not your intention, you would have stopped. You didn't. You really don't have an excuse.

    You really don't have a clue what you're talking about here, you realise. Again, I'm really not running out of time at all.

    Frankly, none of your business. There are enough clues in here for you to work it out.

    And that changes my comment how? Are you even going to try to present an argument?

    I don't use the term lightly either. The way I use it it refers to people with whom I share a common bond, and have had meaningful exchanges of ideas, thoughts, beliefs, experiences, and more. And my description stands.

    No, you've missed the point (again). It's not about the practitioners, and it's not about any of them being "great" or not. When it comes to people that many look to (to have everyone look to you is not easy, and I can only think of maybe one or two who fit that bill), it's more a matter of being respected, not being seen as "great".

    I hope you can get something out of Ellis' books (although I again fail to see why you need to make it all about you). I'm not holding a lot of hope, but some. Which did you get?

    Hmm, how about you read the entire response, instead of taking a single sentence (in this case, two words) out of context, as you got your answer already.

    I'll be at that point when I am. I'm more than aware of what my realities are.

    I never once said anything about my personal interest in Japan, Japanese culture, language, or anything else. The question was whether or not knowing Japanese culture was essential to training in a Koryu, and the answer is no. If you are in Japan, of course it can help you get by on a daily basis, and certainly help you know what your teachers and seniors are saying, but that's not the essential thing in Koryu. Pick up the bokken and move, that's the essential thing.

    Who said anything about unauthorised people claiming to be teachers? And isn't that a problem for any art (internally)?

    As Paul said, the key is "when they have no business doing so". Back in the early 80's there were people in the UK claiming to teach Katori Shinto Ryu... essentially, they were taking it from the book/VHS set of Deity and the Sword. That was a problem. Someone leading a study group is not a problem. In fact, it's a major boon in most cases, as they are assisting in the promotion and continual existence of the Ryu. And you will be hard pressed to find a leader of a study group referring to themselves as a teacher.
     
  20. puunui

    puunui Senior Master

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    you're so angry.

    I don't know. Try looking at the beginning of this thread.

    If you don't know, then I can't really tell you.

    That only goes so far.

    there you go. you answered your own question.

    sure every martial arts has that. it is not limited to koryu only. There are many roads that lead to rome.

    ok.

    that is a young man's answer.


    You don't have to say anything if you don't want to.

    no not really. not on this minor point.

    If you wish to include people you only know through the internet as your friend, you can. A lot of people do that.

    You could be one of those people, in my opinion.

    I got three of them. Old school, dueling with osensei and hidden in plain sight. Does he have more than that?



    I don't think so. that's why I asked.

    What does that mean?

    You don't need to.

    For lower levels yes, for higher levels, perhaps not.

    Yes it is.

    How about study group leaders calling the people in the study group his/her "students"? Does that come up often? Also I have the Deity and the Sword book but not the video. What do you think of it?
     

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