Omote soke / Ura soke

Discussion in 'Koryu Corner' started by Bruno@MT, May 4, 2009.

  1. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    I read on wikipedia that sometimes, a ryuha could have 2 soke: 1 visible and 1 invisible (omote soke and ura soke). This way, if something happened to the main soke before he could pass on the art, the hidden soke could carry on the soke line.

    Is the protocol for omote / ura sokeship documented somewhere?
    I searched on the net, but of course the terms ura / omote and soke are so common that the first gazillion hits are not relevant.
     
  2. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi Bruno,

    I haven't come across this as written before, and Wikipedia is not reknowned as the most reliable source around. That said, having two different lines isn't uncommon. The more common version I have seen is the Soke/Shihanke lineage.

    In this version (used in a number of Koryu, such as Kashima Shinryu), the Soke line is usually held within the family of the arts' origins, and is the official "head of the family" (which is a pretty good literal translation for "soke", by the way), and may or may not actually have any training in the martial art itself. The Shihanke, on the other hand, is the "Head of the Master Instructors (Shihan)", and is the person with the highest technical knowledge/understanding/skill in the martial traditions. It is the Shihanke's duty to pass on the skills of the art to the next generation.

    If the ura/omote soke was used, I wouldn't expect to see much documentation about it. If the idea is that the second (ura) soke is safe should anything happen to the omote soke, then it goes against logic to have them documented. For this reason, I would doubt the claim that "this is not uncommon..." as there would be scant documentation to support this idea. I personally feel that this is more a variation on the stories of splitting the lines to two separate people, rather than an "inner and outer soke".
     
  3. Bruno@MT

    Bruno@MT Senior Master

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    Thanks Chris.

    The quote 'not uncommon' made me wonder if there was a formal protocol, defining the circumstances in which the ura soke could pass on his sokeship to another.

    In the soke / shihan scenario that you describe, what is the actual funtion of the soke? If he is not a master level instructor, would his function be more of a management / administrative type? And if so, who is really in charge?
     
  4. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Yeah, the "not uncommon" line seemed a bit of a cop-out to me, particularly if it is saying that the ura soke is "hidden", and therefore not usually recognised.

    As for the role of the soke in the soke/shihanke lineages, the soke is often a figurehead-style personage. It is within their power to make changes to the structure of the heirachy within the ryu, promote or expel teachers and students, make administrative decisions (such as locations of dojo etc), and a few other roles, but it should be noted that these are not often exercised. The teaching is left to the Shihanke and other Shihan, with most decisions regarding the art in their hands. Generally speaking, though, any major decisions would be presented to the Soke for their approval before being implicated (such as new techniques/kata, restructuring the Densho etc).

    Itis not unlike the relationship between the Emperor and the Shogun... the Emperor wsa "officially" in charge, and ruled Japan, but the Shogun was the one who truly made the decisions. All he had to do was ensure that his decisions would be supported, or at least wouldn't cause others to rebel and re-instate the Emperor (worked until the Meiji Restoration, really).
     
  5. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    I have to see kanji but it sounds weird.

    Omote means out Ura means another side like reverse side.

    So saying out soke or another side soke sounds weird.


    Maybe they meant Soke Dairi?
     
  6. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    Omote is also used to denote the "standard" while ura is also used to refer to the "other side of the same thing". This goes for techniques (eg omote kote gyaku & ura kote gyaku, it goes for pressure points (omote kimon and ura kimon) but it also goes for more abstract notions such as "soke". Many people interpret omote and ura in names of techniques simply as front or back, but there is more to it than that. Metaphorical usage of words, something the old masters seemed to like.
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  7. kaizasosei

    kaizasosei Master Black Belt

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    Ura can also mean hidden.
    Probably completely different thing, but this reminds me of the two main schools of tea ceremony, which are omote and ura senke. I think i'm going to have to do some more researching on the matters. I must say also that i cannot see the point of having a hidden soke unless their be special strategies involved or war situtation. I believe the title is something singular. Successor is a different matter maybe, but the nature of something hidden makes it somewhat inaccessable to the world.

    About the successor thing, the most important thing is that the arts continue to thrive and fill up the scant shells of materials- to replenish the scrolls and make the teachings state of the art. Completing, as well as maintaining the roots whilst at the same time codyfiying and carefully documenting the experiences gained in recent times so as to be able to pass them on effectively for millenia to come.



    ninpo ikkan!
     
    Last edited: May 4, 2009
  8. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Personal guess, no extensive knowledge of the Japanese language, is that someone came up with the idea to justify their "secret master" and line of "ninjitsu..."
     
  9. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    Omote means front/or Outside. Ura means back or other side.

    What is the opposite of Omote? Ura or Uchi. Saying Omote soke or Ura soke sounds weird. But if you want to use Metaphorical meaning that Omote means outside or face for soke then I guess.

    Ura does not really mean hidden it simply means another side.
    Hidden in Japanese would be Kakureru.
     
  10. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    If you insist on getting it right: "Hidden" would be "kakurete iru", but i'm sure you knew that.

    However, despite your appearant understanding of the Japanese language, it is a fact that omote and ura are used to denote the basic form of techniques (omote) and their "alternate" form (ura). Which should not be confused with "Henka", which is used to denote variations on the two major appearances of one technique in it's two main guises (like with omote and ura kote gyaku: twisting the wrist, but to different sides).

    I am afraid any linguistic inconsistencies in the naming of techniques or terminology of all the different disciplines would really exceed what this forum is about.
     
  11. Dale Seago

    Dale Seago Black Belt

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    I think you're likely right about that.

    As for the soke/shihanke distinction, it makes sense that the soke would in most cases be a member of the originating family and would not necessarily have extensive knowledge of the art itself as historically the soke title was all about legal ownership and what we might call a copyright. See http://www.koryu.com/library/wbodiford1.html
     
  12. EWBell

    EWBell Orange Belt

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    Well I do believe that Fukumoto Sensei did receive menkyo kaiden in Togakure Ryu, so it should be a legitimate line.
     
  13. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    Hide-kakureru
    hidden-kakureta
    hiding-kakureteiru

    As for Omote and Ura I was refering more to an object like a book.
     
  14. kaizasosei

    kaizasosei Master Black Belt

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    To hide yourself is kakureru, to hide something is kakusu-so it if you really want to be complete you should not leave out that gramatical possibility.
    kakusareteiru-something that has been hidden/kakushiteiru-hiding something-
    i find that ura can imply hidden, but the verbs kakusu or kakureru are quite strong and would rather imply intentional measures taken or something to the extent of a child that is playing hide and seek-kakureteiru. On the other hand, kakushiteiru would mean actually physically taking measures to hide something as would a criminal.

    ura ga aru hito-a person that does not openly express everything(lit. a person that has 'ura'.
    ura ni ura ga aru- behind the backside, there is another backside.

    the principles of ura/omote- uchi/soto or inside outside, honne/tatemae or true opinion and assumed stance, amae and enryou sweetness as well as refraining or restraint, are dualistic principles that are fundemental in understanding japanism and japanese thinking. Often in the martial arts world, ura and oku(deep,innermost) do indeed refer to hidden things.
     
  15. Kajowaraku

    Kajowaraku Green Belt

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    I second that. Well put
     
  16. JadecloudAlchemist

    JadecloudAlchemist Master of Arts

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    I know it is it different. It depends on what you are talking about since we were talking about a hidden person it would be Kakureru if it is an object or hiding someone else then yes it is Kakusu.

    Keyword IMPLY. Kakushiteiru means hiding a person or object but not yourself.

    Like a scheme.

    It really depends on the sentence. But saying Ura means hide is incorrect.
    If like the sentence you use then it can IMPLY hidden.
     
  17. kaizasosei

    kaizasosei Master Black Belt

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    whatever...

    i'm just trying to understand what the op could have meant in the first place.
    What's the big deal? Like, imply me with some monekypliers why don't you.





    j
     

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