Martial Arts History & Influences

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Chris Parker, Oct 29, 2011.

  1. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hey, Steve,

    Always good talking with you as well. I think the issue here isn't that there isn't an understanding of "what", it's that we're both looking at different "what's" in the first place. You're addressing the application of specific technical approaches, whereas I'm looking at the overall approach of the system, which includes the technical aspects in a general sense. It can get into the nitty-gritty technical details of movement to movement (that's how each of the actions developed, really), but that's a different area. I only used it as an example for Tez and Wado's throws because it came up in the conversation. So we're agreed that the first question is "what", otherwise you have nothing to ask "why" about, but what the "what" is we're both looking at is different. And that was kinda my point above, really. In a gentle, smiling, happy for intelligent conversation way, I'd say you're looking at the wrong "what", which is why you're not seeing what I'm saying about understanding the history. So, uh, with all due respect, Steve, yeah, I'm saying you're wrong. But only in what you're looking at.

    Oh, and in that vein, the last part there, "because if we had more kicks, it would be something else" isn't really correct either. "Because they have no place here" is, and that comes down to the history. I know that sounds rather tied up in semantics, but the thing I'm trying to get across here is that the different systems are what they are due to their history. If there are other things in there, that's not necessarily an indication of "it's something different", it's an indication of not understanding the system in the first place.
     
  2. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Is this in your art or are you saying the rest of us who don't go into traditions and history have got it wrong?
     
  3. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    The value of this thread doesn't lie with comments that start with my name. Or how you feel Chris concerning what I said. Evidently you have a huge issue with me as a result of your comments, how they are directed at me, etc. I tend to think you need to discredit me or something. I tend to feel that is the motivation for your comments. That is really getting in the way of your contributions.

    You may think a koryu is a big deal, I don't. I don't make my mission in life to go around internet challenging other martial artists. I find it really odd that someone of a gendai art (FWIW) is bullying people about their koryu. That is juvenile to me, and has no bearing on a damn thing. Then it turns into this huge waste of time of arguing over not believing the facts given, i.e. "mine is bigger than yours." Which really is a harassment game motived by personal dislike for some reason. It is a game am not going to play. So to please you, yes, you are better and more knowledgable than I. Your style of martial art is better than mine, and so is your sensei. And I have no clue of anything. Therefore, you don't even have to waste your time trying to prove me wrong.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    LOL. Well, there it is. And ultimately, continuing with your last point, you didn't quite get where I was heading. "Because if we had more kicks, it would be something else" could as easily be, "because we don't." And for that student, learning that system, it would be enough... unless that student had an additional interest in, "Why?"

    I think what's interesting is that you have incorporated the history into your curriculum to such a large degree that you can't seem to appreciate that other styles do not. I would be willing to bet that 80% or more of the elite grapplers at the last Mundials in Long Beach have more than a cursory understanding of the history of BJJ. And yet they are competing at the highest level without a deep understanding of the relationship BJJ has with Judo and Jujutsu. In fact, I'd wager that there is a more keen understanding of the relationship BJJ has with MMA than with Judo, although even here I don't expect many would know how intimate the UFC/BJJ link really is.
     
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Please, John, I'm begging you here, read what I wrote.

    There is no aim to discredit you, or your training. There is an aim to clarify it, which you consistently run from with posts such as this one.

    There is no belief that Koryu is any more or less important than any other martial art. Just that if you're putting your posts out as representative of Koryu, but have no understanding, experience, knowledge, or history in any Koryu, that makes your posts about it less representative. It'd be as if I was posting about the inner workings of a cars engine. I have no idea about them, I just know the ones I think are pretty. But if I was posting about the difference between the engine of a Ferrari F430 and a Mercedes SL500, and had no idea about what those engines actually were, that might cast some questions about where I got my information.

    There is no dislike. There is a lot of confusion as to why you can't simply name the Koryu you study. I am just interested in where your view is coming from, as it doesn't gel with any other viewpoint I've come across in this. Seriously, this would never have gotten to this point if, when asked at the beginning what Ryu you study, you had said "X-Ryu", or "It wasn't one". Why you couldn't just answer the question, and allowed it to get this far, I really don't understand.

    In terms of "the value of this thread not being about what I feel about what you said", John, I'm only really seeking clarification of where you're coming from, and correcting errors in what you've said, whether in relation to Koryu, the application of history, the thrust of the thread, or otherwise. This is a discussion board, if you post something and someone has something to say about it, they're allowed to say it. I'd actually encourage such things, personally. You might grow and learn by such interaction.

    And finally, while my profile might not state it, I train in three separate Koryu systems as well as the Gendai one, so that's where I'm coming from.
     
  6. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ah, but "because we don't" isn't really an answer, is it? It's the same as "because" being the single word answer to "why", it doesn't really answer the question. So while the instructor might get away with it, I don't think that's the same as it being an answer for the questioning student.

    As to the degree of history in my and other schools, I think I've said at least three of four times now (although it keeps seeming to be missed... hmm) that the degree to which the history side of things features is relative to the class itself. And in many, it's an unspoken thing, it's just always underneath the techniques, probably never even articulated. But that is different to it not being there.

    Tell you what, here's a few video examples. If nothing else, they should be good for a laugh, in some ways...

    Okay, yeah, it's Koryu, here in this case it's Takenouchi Ryu. Honestly, that's not important, it's to show an extreme case of having an understanding of history and it's implications and influences versus not.



    Right, the thing to look at there is the type of actions that are being employed. What gets preference, what doesn't, what types of attacks are there, that kind of thing.



    The second one is Tenjin Shinyo Ryu, again, though, look to the same things.



    Then, Fusen Ryu. Again, you should see something fairly similar, even though each system has their own set of technical quirks and peculiarities.

    These systems are all old Japanese Jujutsu Ryu-ha, running from over 500 years old to about 150 years old, and are all informed by their history.



    These guys claim to be from the same type of history. Seriously? Yep, they do. But the fact is that, if you look at it properly, you can see the history of this school all over it's techniques. And that history is basically one of some karate and a lot of movies.

    It doesn't need to be explicit in class, but it does inform the entire art. Without it, there is no system at all. Really, a cursory understanding is fine, in a number of cases, it's overkill for what a lot of students need in some systems, but by getting an understanding of the art (what it does, what it doesn't do etc) you are, whether you realise it or not, getting a lesson in it's history. Basically this thread is more about making people more aware of that simple fact, which may be able to enhance the way they view their own art, and give them a deeper appreciation of what they do, and where it's come from, even if it's just a newly created system made by a guy who did some karate, some BJJ, and thinks he knows something about weapons. All of that will be seen in the system. It doesn't hurt to be able to see it.
     
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  7. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    For me Koryu is a term related to Japan history. It isn't something us Americans really need to use. We don't share the same history with the Japanese. Yet for some reason in some circles it is a term highly valued outside Japan. I can't see this to a point. It works to point out the frauds and charlatans. But that is all it just points them out. It doesn't stop them. It is my feeling that many Koryu arts practitioners whose arts don't compete and are now pure art forms feel the need for competition by means of calling out other to prove whose are is better. In competitive arts things are settle in competition, i.e. how in the 1990s BJJ in this country proved they had the goods. Because some arts are truly arts and don't compete some feel the need to argue in lieu of competition. Which in my opinion doesn't settle or change squat.

    Here is the funny thing about the term Koryu. Part of the definition is to have an unbroken line of secession or transmission past a point in time in history, i.e. a genealogy or pedigree to give a rough or basic idea for the sake of the discussion. Please note, I am not the Japanese guy who drew the Koryu line in the sand, or an expert on the definition. It can't be argued BJJ is a koryu art because it can be traced to the founder of Judo and then his background can be traced to samurai arts which can be traced by to someone or some Tengu, or something. The counter argument would be Maeda (or who ever it was, I don't feel like surfing the next to find out) taught outsiders and that doesn't count. Then there is more endless arguing for what, what is the point really. The Gracies and Machados don't care, the BJJ community doesn't care. It has no value to them nor should it.

    The purpose of lineage. Now back in the 70's and 80's here it was all the martial arts rage to play samurai. Many arts used that as a type of marketing tool for their own personal notoriety. So you seen allot guys who taught sword and other thought to be samurai arts claim historical links to esoteric samurai families. That these Americans learned from Japanese senseis who where the heads of these long family histories samurai arts and the was given to these Americans to carry on after their Japanese sensei's death, as sokes- or what ever title they gave themselves. It turns out years later many of these guys who had been claiming being sokes etc. for years where big frauds. It was found out they make up allot of what they where teaching from Japanese samurai movies, or from other arts. In those days, it was hard to disprove such a claim. It wasn't until the late 1980s and 1990s when more information became available that refuted these "sokes" and their knowledge. One way they were exposed was due to errors in their self-proclaimed lineage chart when compared to the real lineage charts around the 1990s.

    In these terms for Japanese martial arts, the term koryu to some is important. But to others it doesn't. In my opinion the term koryu is only in terms of lineage for those who claim to be a Soke or any other inheritor of a Japanese martial art. But even then that doesn't stop people from going to fraudulent arts, or instructors. It doesn't stop anything. What it does it allows for people concerned with practicing an authentic Japanese art.

    Just came to mind, the term koryu is useful to some who have a liking for Japanese terms to mean traditional art vs. modern art or sport. Overall, koryu is just a Japanese label for their purposes to demarcate a time in history which has the terms greatest significance, imo, as I said before. :)

    Just want to add I didn't see any of the posts between this one and my last. It seems Chris and I agree on those who use movies as the basis of technique.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  8. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    And after quickly looking at Chris is last post, I would like to add the term koryu is no guarantee quaility or authentic of an art. That is a koryu can deteriorate or change or lose its techniques over time and not be worth a damn. A problem koryu face as any art, is the loss of technique, quality, and authenticity overtime. But the snobbiness doesn't seem to go away...:lol:

    I am not commenting on those arts in anyway in terms of authenticity etc. as I have not practiced those arts, but if asked I can offer my opinion against my experience using jujutsu in the area of mechanics.
     
  9. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    Another perspective (or perhaps the same one as Chris, but simplified for some): Among the arts I practice is Miyama ryu jujutsu-a gendai ryu, created in the 60's by a Antonio Pereira, 6th dan judo, aikido teacher, and sosuishitsu ryu menkyo (though, to be honest, there is quite a bit of discussion around this last one). Having studied judo, sosishitsu ryu and being a rather current aikido student, I can see the roots of all these arts in various parts of miyama ryu, and even figure out why the founder used them-where they make it possible for me to "kick butt," or, more importantly, keep me from getting my butt kicked.

    Among the kata of judo, for instance, is the koshiki no kata, the "form of antiquity." It's from Kito ryu, one of the koryu jujutsu forms judo's founder, Jigoro Kano studied. It's a kumiuchi form, one intended for grappling in armor. Kano kept it because it demonstrates several principles inherent to judo. Because it's a kumiuchi form it's imporatant that it be practiced "in the mood" of wearing armor. Now, one might think that because of all that, it's no longer relevant: who wears armor these days? I've found, though, that because of the way some of its movements work, they're really good methods for moving in tight fitting western street clothes like a three piece suit, or a tux.

    [yt]MLStFnYer1s[/yt]

    [yt]N4ggqaoLR7A[/yt]

    History is very useful-it offers insights that we really shouldn't ignore, ones that help us "kick butt," even....

    EDIT: this one is good-the right pace and full length:

    [yt]e3xFGrWXZjs[/yt]
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011
  10. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Exactly. And it's okay. Now I think you understand my point! :)

    I'm not suggesting that the question should or shouldn't be answered. I'm saying that the answer isn't necessary. It can help. It can be interesting, but it isn't a deal breaker. Sometimes, asking why can get in the way of really understanding "what."
     
  11. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    I hope it's clear that I am not saying otherwise. :)
     
  12. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    Jason make a good point for me, yes this knowledge can enhance the martial arts experience, but in my view it isn't essential. btw, I tend to agree with Steve.

    I see where Chris is coming from, him how he defines and outlines history is important to him and his own martial arts experience. But, I tend to agree with Steve.

    If you think about what Steve studies it has prove his point.
     
  13. elder999

    elder999 El Oso de Dios!

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    But if you look at koshiki no kata, it's all "why." The "what" doesn't come without understanding "why," in this instance......
     
  14. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Okay, cool, now we're getting somewhere. There's a lot of misunderstanding in this post, so I'm going to head off on a tangent for a bit and clarify and correct as we go. I hope this can be of help to you, John, and you can see where I've been coming from. Everyone else, this won't necessarily be a part of the main thrust of the thread....

    That said, let's go for it!

    Okay, the first thing is to understand what the term "Koryu" refers to. There's two ways of looking at that, and both need to be applied at all times for it to be accurate. The first is simple, and that is that it is a Japanese martial tradition whose origins, or founding predates the Meiji Restoration of about 1868 (the date slightly varies depending on who is looking at it, which organisation, etc). The second is a particular approach that is found in the specific Ryu itself. That approach is founded on the ideas of passing the tradition down as it was transmitted in the first place. There's a lot more to it, but that's the basic crux of it.

    I will say, explicitly at the outset here, that the idea of generalising in regard to the actual practice methods of the wide range of Koryu that exist make such statements as "arts that don't compete and are now pure art" rather dangerous to try to apply, as, unless you are a member of the Ryu in question, you most likely don't have much idea as to what is actually involved in the training of the art itself. Competition, in a form, is a part of a number of Koryu traditions, and there was the old practice of Taryu Jiai, basically inter-school contests. Embu, to a degree, are a modern form of that with a very different practice, but a very similar reason. So, John, the entire second half of this paragraph has nothing to do with Koryu at all, and is just a personal value of yours, which goes against Koryu methodology and mindset. (Bear in mind, that's not an attack, it's an observation).

    It can't be argued that BJJ is a Koryu because:
    a) It's not Japanese
    b) It was founded in the 20th Century in Brazil, therefore not pre-Meiji
    c) It is not based in continuation of a transmission, but in development based in competitive testing
    d) It is about the opposite of Koryu.

    There is no counter argument.

    But I don't understand what this has to do with a conversation (in this post, at least) on Koryu. It's like saying that a helicopter isn't a bus because it doesn't have enough seats, but you could argue it is because it has an engine.... Really, it makes no sense.

    And I don't know what you're talking about here, honestly. I've seen a lot of fake sword schools, and some very delusional individuals teaching them, but this doesn't really have much to do with the conversation, does it? And the ideas of what was Koryu were already coming out in the Hoplology Society from the 60's and 70's.

    No, in the Japanese martial arts the term "Koryu" isn't "important", it's accurate. That's it, really. It's like saying that some people think calling this fruit an "apple" is important, others don't, and just call it "round thing", or "bubble berry".

    No, again that's not the point. It is simply an accurate classification. That's all. That's it's big use, it's a classification. One of my friends (a Koryu practitioner) when the idea of "Koryu snobbery" came up said very accurately that there's no real snobbery, there's just the accurate description. It either is, or it isn't. That's it. And if it isn't, claiming it is isn't correct.

    Really, Koryu are no better or worse than any other of the myriad of martial art options out there, they're just their own distinct "flavour" of martial art.
    Some Koryu have become little more than relics, preserving the methods in more of a "museum" kind of way. Others are far more dynamic. That is no different from saying that a school with the label "Karate" can be good, bad, or in between. And seriously, John, there is no snobbery. There is just concern with things being what they claim to be.

    But from all of this, I think it's very safe to say that you have no experience in Koryu, yes? Good, then we can move on from this. I might suggest refraining from stating anything about Koryu, though, as you still have a very skewed and incorrect image here....
     
  15. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ah, I always got it, my friend....

    Okay, here it is as simply as I can put it.

    It is always there. Whether you learn it, pick it up, become aware of it, or lazily never recognise the patterns of movement that underlie everything in your system, it is always there. There is no getting away from it, it is always there. Whether you want to learn the history or not, it is always there. Without "why" there is no "what". Without the history, there is no system or technique.

    All I'm suggesting here is that it's possible to look at your art and see it, perhaps for the first time, perhaps in a different way, but it is there. It cannot be a deal breaker or maker, it is present because without it there is no deal to make or break.

    PS Elder, love the Koshiki no Kata demos, especially the last one. So few people understand that part of the art... I remember taking some of my guys to a Japanese Cultural and Martial Arts demo a year ago, and there was a demonstration of Koshiki no Kata done there. I was rapt, but my guys didn't get what they were looking at. So I started explaining. My word, a lot of questions came up!
     
  16. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Purple Belt

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    That's not really true though, is it? That you need to understand the bee thing in order to also understand that smacking Scarlett Johansson in the face isn't a viable option? From a purely technical standpoint, "stop doing that because Scartlett doesn't like getting batted in the face" is no less useful than "stop doing that, despite the fact that you were stung... "

    History and cultural insight are valuable if we place value on them. And my personal preference is certainly to do so. But in purely technical performance terms, "use this stance because it offers more stability" will guide your execution just as much as "use this stance because previous generations developed it to help them retain their stability in muddy and slick environments common in that part of the world" does.

    I'm interested in that kind of detail. But that's not the same as needing it.
     
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  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Ah, that was getting into a kinda different area, I had to pull myself up from putting a range of other things down at that point. The crux of it was the past informing the present. But, to take your lead, having Scarlett (lovely girl, by the way...) say "Stop that!", and having that be the reason you stop, or alter your response, that would then be part of the new history, which would then inform the new behaviour (movement).

    In terms of the stance thing, though, "use this stance because it offers more stability", well, that had to come from somewhere as well. For instance, Northern Chinese systems and Southern Chinese systems have rather different concepts of stances, due to their terrain. For Southern, with rockier and less-stable ground, they have wider stances for stability. Northern ones tend towards narrower ones, because they had a more stable, flatter ground, and could afford to be narrower, and therefore faster. So "because it offers more stability" is already an insight, or aspect, of it's history right there. And the individual might not need to know it to that degree, but the system does.
     
  18. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    I am removing this post so if it shows up in a quote sorry. Ap Owyen in his post said it better than I. I wish I was that good saying things.
     
  19. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    The point of my post was that you were still way out in terms of getting to what Koryu actually applies to, though. And, to clear it up again, there is no importance placed on the term, or more realistically, there is no more importance placed on the term than there is any other term in martial arts. It is just a classification which should be correctly applied. Otherwise it's like you showing me a boxing match, and saying it's Aikido, my saying "no, it's not", and you saying "Wow, I didn't know the term was that important to you". It's not, but if it's not being correctly applied, that's what I'm looking to avoid, as it just leads to a lot of confusion for everyone involved.

    And, while I understand your loyalty to your instructor, and their pedigree as you see it, from the descriptions you give here, either he didn't get what the term referred to either (not uncommon, even in Japan), or he wasn't getting across what he meant to you. Because that's not really a correct usage of the term, which is the only bit that has any importance.

    I guess what I'm saying is that opinion doesn't matter here. It's like having an opinion that says that apples are all bright orange and slightly sour. Now, you can have an opinion that you prefer oranges to apples, but the opinion based on apples being orange and sour isn't really an opinion of an apple, if you get what I mean.
     
  20. JohnEdward

    JohnEdward 2nd Black Belt

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    Chris, I don't get what you are attacking, or what you are trying to argue, again, if you feel you are superior in your knowledge of koryu and you are an expert of it, great. Have at it. But isn't my interest to go around discrediting or harassing people. If it was, I would return fire with something like, where is your Ph.D. in Japanese Koryu studies, is that a wikipedia degree you got? You don't study a koryu art? What makes you qualified to critique as you did those Jujutsu videos when you don't practice any of those art, you computer chair docent. And then you would fire back, and we would go on and on. I will past on that rodeo. Nerd fights are not my thing. Even though I am flattered you chose me as a worthy opponent. But it does distract from the thread. :)123
     

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