What Makes it To-Shin Do?

Discussion in 'SKH/Quest/Toshindo/Shadows of Iga' started by Muawijhe, Apr 14, 2010.

  1. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    Out of curiosity, what seperates it (or makes it similar) to other Japanese martial arts (both in the physical aspects, stances, techniques, etc., and on the mental/mind sciences side)?

    As I'm still new to the art, I'm trying to get a broader grasp on its uniqueness, so that I can better explain to others when the conversation turns to what martial art I train in.

    I've asked my instructors these questions, but I'd like opinions outside of my dojo (and the questionable information found on wiki sites).

    Much thanks in advance.
     
  2. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Oh boy. How long have you got?

    Toshindo training can be looked at from a variety of angles, the uniquely Toshindo aspects I'll leave for the members to address, but I'll mention one or two things here. When it comes to the Japanese arts that form the basis of the system, that I'll address in a little more detail.

    The majority of the technical curriculum is based on Anshu Hayes' study of the arts of the Bujinkan, augmented with his own approach and some additional study into various Eastern spiritual systems. The technical aspects are taken primarily from a number of Japanese martial systems, namely Togakure Ryu NinpoTaijutsu and Bikenjutsu, Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, and Kukishinden Ryu Happo Biken. These arts are also found in the Bujinkan, Jinenkan, Genbukan, and a few other off-shoots from these sources.

    Without getting into the tiny details of what is the difference between each of these systems, and the difference between them and other Japanese systems, it may be valid to look at exactly what makes something a martial art in the first place. A martial art is, in essence, a combative expression of a particular philosophy, which might be spiritual (Aikido having a moral, or ethical philosophy of seeking harmony within a chaos, Togakure Ryu having a philosophy that violence is to be avoided etc), political (Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu having the philosophy of never being tied to a particular faction in order to preserve their integrity, Kukishinden Ryu's origin story being centred around rescuing the Emperor Go-Daigo), physical (Karate's one strike, one kill ideal, Koto Ryu's approach of running forward through a battlefield), or most commonly a combination (Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu's Bhuddist influences, while at the same time being centred completely on direct, efficient action, and constantly staying in the combat, or never retreating).

    This philosophy, combined with the social surroundings of the art itself, will give the physical skills and techniques of the particular system. For example, Chinese and Korean systems tend towards a high focus on striking and kicking, whereas Japanese systyems are far more focused on grappling skills (throws, locks, controls etc, most commonly standing up rather on the ground, for much the same reasons). Dominantly, this is a callback to fighting on the Japanese battlefield, wearing armour. Japanese armour, despite what you may see in books, was not lacquered bamboo, it was typically iron plates (occasionally toughened and lacquered leather), and hitting that with your fists was not really a good option. Similarly, if you fell over in armour, you were in a lot of trouble, as it is very difficult to get back up again. So little striking (later systems would incorporate mmore, but grappling would remain the base), and little ground fighting. That is of course the typical for older systems, newer ones do look at ground work more (Brasilian JiuJitsu is essentially Judo focused on the ground).

    In terms of technical differences between these systems and other systems, well, what systems are you talking about? There are huge similarites between some arts, and huge differences between others. Really, in a lot of cases, it is like trying to explain the difference between the way chocolate ice cream tastes and vanilla ice cream tastes to someone who has never experienced either. I found myself talking with a friend a few days ago about the differences between a few systems, and because she didn't have any background, I couldn't explain it. The only way to really understand the differences is to train. So if your friends don't train, they won't "get it" no matter how eloquently you try to get it across.

    The other main thing that defines a martial art, or martial system, is the people involved. It is the people who are training in the system that give it it's life, and it's character. In the book Hagakure, one of the sections has a teaching about a particular Bhuddist sect, known as the Lotus Sect. An aspiring pupil says to the Master of the Sect "I think the Lotus Sect would be great, if it wasn't for it's fearsome character". The Master replies "It is because of it's fearsome character that it is the Lotus Sect". Now, if a new generation were to come in, and continue the practices that the Lotus Sect used, but without the fearsome character, it would cease to be the Lotus Sect, according to the Master. So he won't allow that. All the persons involved need to adopt that fearsome character in order to be considered a part of the Sect, as the character stems from the top.

    So, in the end, I guess the short answer to "What makes Toshindo unique?" would simply be Stephen Hayes. The same way that the Bujinkan is the Bujinkan because of Hatsumi Masaaki, and the Genbukan is the Genbukan because of Tanemura Shoto, Toshindo is Toshindo because of Stephen Hayes. As to what that exactly means, well, the only way to know that is to train. And by training in the school, you will see what it is that is important to Anshu Hayes, which is his interpretation of the Classical material (a focus on things such as Godai, a five elemental approach which he expanded from the Sanshin no Kata from Gyokko Ryu, amongst other sources), and a high emphasis on his approach to Modern Self Defence.

    I hope this has helped in some way.
     
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  3. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    Very helpful, insightful, and informational, as always, Mr. Parker! Much appreciation!

    You have answered my questions in their own way, and helped for me to redefine and readdress the ways in which I will approach future questions (for the better, I assure you).

    Generally, as I'm new to Toshindo and relatively unfamiliar with it (and as you illustrated above, the 'it' is also hinged upon the 'who'), I'm just attempting to feel the "pulse" of the art as I go through my early training. I don't expect to base my opinions of it by what I find on the internet, but to supplement what I feel in class.

    I did the same thing with Judo, Jujutsu, and Aikido before this. And in that regard, I thank you again for the time spent on the wonderful response. =)

    Oh...and you are obviously well read, as I guage from your other posts here. Have you ever put together a recommended reading list or two for a beginning or returning aspirant to the martial arts? Perhaps focused on a comparative look into the martial arts?

    Thanks much again!
     
  4. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    ToShinDo is Stephen Hayes interpretation of what he learned from Maasaki Hatsumi; it reflects his experiences, beliefs, and what he learned over the years of his training. That's what makes it ToShinDo.
     
  5. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    I got that much. Mr. Parker's response helped me realize I need to better phrase my question next time. Thanks for the response, though. =)

    I think my question now is more along with the physical aspect of the techniques. What signatures of stance, movements, or other techniques does Toshindo have that would clearly label one a student of Toshindo over other martial arts?

    Example, do they favour high kicks? Low kicks? No kicks? Striking? Grappling? Is there an emphasis on speed over technique? Technique over speed? Power? And so on.

    If I were to walk into a crowd of martial artists training different arts, I can identify some different styles, "Hey, he knows Judo. And that gal is doing Hapkido. And over there he is doing Tae Kwon Do." How would one know another is training in Toshindo?

    Does that help focus my question a bit more?
     
  6. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hmm. Okay.

    How would someone know you were training in Toshindo? They probably wouldn't. They may pick up that you have trained in a Ninjutsu-related system (Bujinkan, Genbukan, Jinenkan, Toshindo etc), but that would probably be about it. In this regard, it's similar to knowing that the person you're watching is trained in Wado Ryu Karate, or Goju Ryu Karate. If you're very well versed, then you may pick up on the differences, but overall, you would probably be able to pick up "Karate", and that's all.

    In terms of the technical characteristics of Ninjutsu-related systems, as mentioned earlier, they are Japanese arts, so they will have a higher focus on grappling over striking (the Koto Ryu is rather unusual in Japanese systems with the amount of striking they use). But the big thing to remember here is that Toshindo, like all the other major organisations, blends the skills and techniques of a number of old systems, the Togakure Ryu, Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu, and Kukishinden Ryu, and each of these arts have their own "flavour" or characteristics. For example....

    Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu has no strike or kick defence in it's scroll, which is made up exclusively of weapon and grab defences and escapes, incoporating a range of close quarter weaponry, as well as having a dedicated sword scroll. It's most characteristic posture (kamae) is known as Doko no Kamae, or Mad Tiger, and is defensive and evasive in nature. All techniques have a definate strategy to them, which is to stay out of range, then suddenly move inside the opponents space, perform your technique, then escape and get distance again. I refer to this art as "the art of escape", or, when I'm in a more fun mood, "the art of running away!" This, more than any other system within the syllaus, shows the guerilla "hit-and-run" tactics said to be so typical of the ninja.

    Gyokko Ryu is one of the oldest systems around, and it's history of utilising armour (coming from a time of very heavy O Yoroi) gives it a 50/50 weight distribution for most of it's postures. The most characteristic posture is Ichimonji no Kamae (Number One Posture), again a defensive posture similar to Doko (for what it's worth, Gyokko also has a posture they refer to as Doko no Kamae, which is similar, but different to the Togakure Ryu one). The other primary posture is Jumonji no Kamae (Number Ten Posture), a guarded offensive posture. The primary tactic of Gyokko Ryu is to constantly change direction on the attacker, by leading them first in one direction (say, left), then suddenly switching to move them to the right. This increases the effect of limb controls and joint locks to a quite devestating level. It also focuses on use of fingers and the tip of the thumb to a great effect. I refer to this system as "the art of changing direction", for obvious reasons.

    Gyokko gives most of the basics to the various Ninjutsu organisations, in the form of the Sanshin no Kata, and the Kihon Happo. It is also one of only two well known martial arts said to have been founded by a woman (possibly a princess or lady-in -waiting in China. The skills were brought to Japan later). There are a set of rules associated with this school.

    Koto Ryu, as I said, features more striking than is typical in Japanese systems. This is said to be a hallmark of it's history travelling from China, to Korea, and then to Japan. One theory as to the origin of Koto Ryu in Japan is that the then-current Soke of Gyokko Ryu, SakagamiTaro Kunishige, was finding that Gyokko Ryu was not being successful on the battlefield. He came into contact with the knowledge brought from China via Korea, and adapted both his system (which he reorganised from Gyokko Ryu Shitojutsu as it was known to Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, which it remains to today), and structured the new knowledge to form Koto Ryu.

    The primary postures include Seigan no Kamae, a defensive posture, Bobi no Kamae, and offensive one, and Hoko no Kamae, a recieving posture. It is characterised by a great deal of forward movement (very little backwards movement, most evasions are sideways instead), and quite a lot of offensive, or attacking techniques. It is said that the Gyokko Ryu used to practice their techinques against the attacking rhythms of Koto Ryu, as these two arts have been taught together since Koto Ryu was founded. I refer to this systems as "the art of striking", or more simply, "just hit them!".

    Takagi Yoshin Ryu is a very typical traditional Japanese Jujutsu system. The focus is on joint locks, throws, and chokes, and is a very compilcated, involved system, with a range of strategies and tactics, and very few formal postures (most schools simply use ones known from other systems), although it does have it's own form of Seigan, and unique ways of sitting in Seiza and Fudoza. Most of the Muto Dori, or unarmed techniques against swords (and other weapons) are from this school. It also has a reputation as "the bodyguard school" as in previous generations it was learnt by a family that acted as bodyguards for a powerful Daimyo. My personal feeling of this school, even though it covers such a great range, is simple. This I refer to as "the art of no hesitation".

    Shinden Fudo Ryu actually has two components to it (some believe that they are actually different schools... I have heard both. Manaka Sensei when he was with the Bujinkan taught that they were different aspects of the same school, others have classed them as different with different lineages). I'll treat them here seperately.

    Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu is a suhada (unarmoured) jujutsu system, again liek Takagi Yoshin Ryu taking a variety of tactics to get it's teachings across. It's a rather direct school, and I like to think of it like Koto Ryu but focused on grappling rather than striking. Along with the Takagi Ryu, this is where the seated techniques come from (suwari waza), including some quite odd muto dori techniques. This system has no postures whatsoever, and has a highly emphasised focus on being natural in all ways. Early teachings said that you should learn in nature, using what is found around before creating a dojo (building) and using training tools. For this reason (and it's technical approach matching this ideal) I refer to this as "the art of nature".

    Shinden Fudo Ryu Jutaijutsu (Taijutsu) is rarely taught in the Bujinkan, and I don't know if it is featured in the Toshindo curriculum. It is taught in the Jinenkan and the Genbukan, though. It is a much rougher jujutsu form, with very nasty throws (a quite vicious habit of applying a forward hip-throw while applying a musha dori/gyoja dori... honestly, that is just vicious). This system has 5 postures associated, focused around it's version of Seigan.

    Kukishinden Ryu is a battlefield system originally focused on the Naginata and spear, and later the focus changed to staff weapons, the bo in particular. The unarmed part is designed to work in armour, or without, and has a high emphasis on chaining joint locks and applying high impact throws. I tend to say that Kukishinden Ryu Dakentaijutsu is designed to take someone and turn them upside down (so they end up on their head) as quickly as possible. Again, a range of postures, most typical being Kosei no Kamae, a guarded offensive posture. This is also where most of the weapon skills come from. I refer to this school as "the art of the battlefield" for again obvious reasons.

    Did that help? I expect not. That's what I meant when I said the only way to really know what makes it this particular art is to train it.

    But, to tide you over, look to things like a slight weight shift to the rear, lead hand extended, and rear guarding your chest, with the hand typically on the bicep (Seigan, Ichimonji, and various others), a shuto ken (hand edge strike) will be done with a cupped hand, rather than the straight edge that karate tends towards, there is a frequent use of anges, not just forward and backward, or to the sides, kicks are typically low (the most common target in the scrolls is the ribs or groin crease, followed by the groin, then lower to the knees) and straight, with the impact (for a foot stomp) with the heel, by turning the foot out, a common attack in traditional patterns is a stepping lead punch, most of the time the same hand and foot are always forward (Koto is the biggest excpetion to this, with Togakure a close second), a large emphasis on rolling and weaponry, probably the most common posture of all is Shizen no Kamae, which actually doesn't come from any of the schools (although a few have similar concepts with different names, most commonly Hira no Kamae, sometimes Shizentai), which is a natural posture, essentially just standing there with no preparation. Toshindo then also has a high focus on modern self defence, taking these traditional concepts and strategies and tactics, and applying them against modern street-style attacks.

    Okay, I think that should do it. Hope this has helped.
     
  7. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    Something else I've noticed in a lot of the ToShinDo clips I've seen is verbalizations. Hayes pointedly included a lot of verbal commands, like "STOP" or "BACK UP" with the techniques.
     
  8. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    Much thanks to both jks9199 and Chris Parker for taking the time and effort to respond to my post. You have been most helpful.

    And again, Mr. Parker your knowledge astounds me. Your first section, breaking down the old ryus, was very information and helpful (despite your expectations).

    I agree that the best way to know anything, is by doing (or in this case training), and maybe someday I'll take the first steps down that road. In the meantime, turning to the wealth of knowledge the kind people here at MartialTalk.com have given me lots to think about.

    I may walk away from here today knowing nothing more than I did when I first sat down, but the experience has broadened my mind to recieve more information when it does arrive.

    Thanks to everyone again.
     
  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    I'm glad you got something out of it. I hoped you (and others) would, or I wouldn't have bothered posting it, but my point was more that such information is not easy to give real depth with via the limitations of the typed word. I could take you through things much quicker and simpler just by going through techniques from each ryu, and letting you feel it. So enjoy your training, and don't worry too much about the technicalities yet, just get used to the "feeling" of the art. Once you have that down the technical side will naturally follow, as it has to.
     
  10. blink13

    blink13 Green Belt

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    NOT an intended bash on Mr. Hayes, but do his teachings follow any of the traditional ryuha specifically, or is it acknowledged as gendai? I haven't seen any of his work, and I'm still too new to be able to identify it, anyway. ;)

    Does he have menkyo in any of the traditional ryuha?

    Thanks.
     
  11. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi Dave,

    Hatsumi Sensei used to issue the traditional ranking for various ryuha, and the best known recipients were Tanemura Tsunehisa (later Shoto), who went on to found the Genbukan, and Manaka Fumio (later Unsui) who founded the Jinenkan. It is believed that a number of other Japanese Shihan have also recieved the traditional ranking in one or more of the ryu, however this has not publicly been confirmed. There have not been any cases that I am aware of where Hatsumi has licensed any Western students that way.

    In fact, some old stories have it that there was an issue between Anshu Hayes and Hatsumi Sensei due to Hayes Sensei issuing licenses in Kukishinden Ryu without the requisite permission (Menkyo Kaiden) to license in any of the ryu themselves. Dan ranking okay, but not Menkyo licensing.

    The closest I have come across to a Westerner being granted a Menkyo license is Arnoud Cousergue being awarded Menkyo Kaiden in Tachi Waza (specifically refering to swordwork, but also having other meanings), and four European Shihan being granted Menkyo Kaiden in Amatsu Tatara Hichi Buko Goshin Traditional Medicine Arts. These people are Dennis Bartrum, Chris Rowarth, William Doolan, and Peter King, one of the first English Bujinkan instructors.

    When it comes to being awarded Menkyo in these arts, depending on the decisions of the head of the Ryu, the holders of Menkyo Kaiden may be able to license their own students, but typically not. So even if he had been awarded it, he would most likely not be permitted to award the ranking himself. That is why Manaka Sensei doesn't issue licenses in the Bujinkan arts, but may for the Jinen Ryu (which he founded), and Tanemura Sensei actually formed his own branches of the various lineages, making him the founder of those branches, and enabling him to license them in the traditional way (Tanemura-ha Togakure Ryu, Tanemura-ha Koto Ryu etc).

    From what I understand, the bulk of the classes are based on the modern interpretation, however the traditional ryu are also taught. I believe the option really comes into it after Shodan. And although you won't be licensed, you will still be able to learn all of them, and be ranked in the modern kyu/dan system.
     
  12. stephen

    stephen Purple Belt

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    There are examples (ok, maybe only one) that I can think of of westerners being awarded Menkyo Kaiden in specific schools.

    I've not heard of him then issuing any sort of license himself. I think it's doubtful someone would do something like that (although, to be honest, I really don't know the guy at all).
     
  13. ToShinDoKa

    ToShinDoKa Green Belt

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    Hey there,

    You know, this thread reminded me of a To-Shin Do seminar I attended at the To-Shin Do Quest Center in N.C..

    The focus that day was exploring both classical form and theory behind and the modern application of the Gyokko ryu Shoden Kata: Ren-yo, Koku, Dan-Shi, Dan-Shu, etc. etc..

    What stuck with me--and was brought back to mind by your question--was the way my instructor described how we were approaching the classical styles.

    He particularly pointed out the value of authenticity, and the practice of it in its original fashion, like any art of rich with history: archery from horseback, the practice of Lichtenauer's School of the German Longsword, etc. These all are excellent pursuits and valuable if that's what the student was seeking.

    But...that hadn't been the goal of To-Shin Do Goshintaijutsu--he said in so many words--nor was it the specific purpose of the seminar. He emphasized that pursuing the 9 arts on which TSD was primarily based for authenticity sake was useful, but that To-Shin Do wasn't about preserving the old way (perhaps what some one call the more authentic way), but making the old work for us now.

    He explained it was a different way of preserving the arts--by seeing how effectively they could be adapted to the modern threat. In many cases we did include technical duplication of the classical techniques (plainly: we of course used the same wrist and joint locks and fists and striking surfaces of the nine schools) But the focus wasn't on imitating the classical moves, but using the principles from these scenario-based kata to develop a strategy that is both adaptable and effective to the modern day warrior (mindful citizen, army personnel, law enforcement officer, etc.), and keeping it simple, striving to internalize it so it became our natural way of responding.

    If after being startled our natural way of responding is to throw up our hands in surrender and yelp in surprise, we might train our response to perhaps: distancing ourselves with angular footwork and assuming a kamae that puts distance between the culprit (like a ichi no kamae). I, to this day, have the habit of assuming a rough looking ichimonji no kamae when someone scares me, giving me the split second I need to allow things to register--or if nothing else, discern the prospect of me being in danger in general.
    Having entered the 'dans' now, I look back and see many of the classical strategies that owe their beginnings to the fierce beauty that is the 9 arts, and it makes me appreciate the authentic teachings as preserved in schools like the Bujinkan even more.

    I've always enjoyed how AnShu Hayes phrased what he's accomplished with his approach: not necessarily replicating what he was taught, but "saluting the past" by challenging those arts against what we now face.

    Make no mistake: Many arts do this, but I've really enjoyed personally AnShu's approach to it.

    Just some random memories--sorry to ramble.
     
  14. ToShinDoKa

    ToShinDoKa Green Belt

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    LOL forgive the typos, in a rush and very tired. Goodnight.:)
     
  15. Muawijhe

    Muawijhe Green Belt

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    That's an awesome memory, sir! Thanks for sharing it with us!

    I think all martial arts are in some way useful in today's American world, but it's interesting to see the way in which Mr. Hayes is really focusing in on our cultural standings (especially the legal ramifications of performing the physical techniques in defence, which if found not too often in the traditional arts I've experienced (and I am by no means very wordly or scholarly)).
     
  16. Yoshin9

    Yoshin9 Yellow Belt

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    I see it in a much simpler light.

    Why does anyone take a style he has learned from a teacher and call it by another name? So that he can put his own influence behind it without having to always answer the public when they say, "Well that isn't ... style, or that isn't the way ... does it".

    It's Mr Hayes polite way of saying, "Shut up, it's my style and I can do it however I want to". ;)

    It's a matter of freedom.

    I also want to thank you fellows for explaining aspects of ninjutsu; I train in Yoshin Ryu but like Hayes, my instructor saw it fitting to introduce more striking into the art as well as ways of dealing with non-traditional Japanese attacks that the western people are exposed to. It has allowed me to use aspects of Wing Chun and Jeet Kune Do, kick boxing, etc., as the situation requires in addition to joint locks, throws, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2010
  17. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Grandmaster

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    Hi Yoshin9,

    Unfortunately, it's really not that simple.... and frankly, I'm glad it isn't! The scenario you put forth there is one based purely in ego, and that is not where a new system comes from, at least one with any chance of longevity.

    A new system has to start from a new, or different understanding of that of the origin system. In the case of Toshindo, it is Hayes' approach to the material he was taught and exposed to over his years, with an emphasis on his more "modern" take on things, and a number of other aspects. If it is just a case of "shut up, I'm doing it my way!", honestly that would be someone to be avoided. They are around, certainly, but they don't actually have anything other than ego to offer.

    One thing I'd like to highlight here is the distinction between a new art, or system, and a new organisation. Toshindo is an example of a new system, in that it takes the established material and information, and has modified it within it's new understanding and parameters (his take on elemental concepts, modern attacking methods, and more) to create this new art. A new organisation, on the other hand, will not necessarily alter the teaching, just the way they are taught, or the organisational structure and emphasis of the group itself. Good examples of this in the Ninjutsu world are the Genbukan and Jinenkan, who teach the same material from the same sources as the Bujinkan, but the emphasis and organisational methods are vastly different.

    In regards to your Yoshin Ryu, it sounds more like a new system rather than a new organisation, for example. When it comes to just adding "Wing Chun, Jeet Kune Do" etc for striking options, to be honest that doesn't sound like such a good idea to me, knowing the movement methods of these arts and Japanese Jujutsu systems, but without seeing it that's just my take on things. Which form of Yoshin Ryu do you study (lineage etc)?
     
  18. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    We use commands like that a lot in policing, is there any connections to that? It's taught in police training. A commanding shout can often stop something before it starts or give you a moments edge.
     
  19. jks9199

    jks9199 Administrator Staff Member

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    There are connections, as I understand it. But it's also part of Hayes's modernization/Westernization of the art.
     
  20. Tez3

    Tez3 Sr. Grandmaster

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    Thanks, I have no knowledge of the art, was just reading for interest but that bit stuck out a bit for me.
     

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