Cross polination of Okinawan/Japanese styles - Split from:Bodan

chrispillertkd

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Hmm, didn't they? Not familiar with the stories of shared training between Jigen Ryu practitioners and Ryukyu Te practitioners on Okinawa…?

Now THIS is interesting. Do you have any information on these co-training session(s)? Does Jigen Ryu have an empty handed component to it so its practitioners would have some common ground with the Okinawans? Or was it more a matter ofthem showing sword techniques and the Okinawans sharing unarmed techniques?

Pax,

Chris
 

TimoS

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Now THIS is interesting. Do you have any information on these co-training session(s)? Does Jigen Ryu have an empty handed component to it so its practitioners would have some common ground with the Okinawans? Or was it more a matter ofthem showing sword techniques and the Okinawans sharing unarmed techniques?
Getting way off-topic, but I'd like to know more also. While it is more or less common knowledge that some karate pioneers, such as Bushi Matsumura, most likely studied Jigen ryu, I'm having a hard time seeing the influence of Jigen ryu in karate. Our style contains two kata taught by Matsumura, Seisan and Gojushiho and when looking at videos of Jigen ryu, I just don't see any resemblance to anything I've learned.
 

Chris Parker

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Hi Chris,

Now THIS is interesting. Do you have any information on these co-training session(s)?

Mainly stories and conjecture… twas a long time ago, after all…

Does Jigen Ryu have an empty handed component to it so its practitioners would have some common ground with the Okinawans?

Hmm… that would depend on a number of things, really… firstly, you'd need to identify which line of Jigen Ryu you're discussing (Yakumaru Jigen Ryu, Nodachi Jigen Ryu, Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, Ryushin Jigen Ryu… although there are some that it can't be, obviously, and others that are unlikely), then you'd need to identify who the teacher was presenting it, and then get an idea of what the curriculum for the ryu was at the time. In their current line-up, the primary contenders (Yakumaru/Nodachi Jigen Ryu) don't feature any jujutsu or similar, however Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu does… not that it would be particularly "common ground" for the te practitioners of the Ryukyu kingdom.

Most of the stories seem to indicate that Bushi Matsumura learnt from Ijuin Yashichiro, who was said to be a teacher of the "mainline" (Yakumaru) Jigen Ryu… so odds are, no. Yakumaru Jigen Ryu focuses on sword, both tachi and nodachi (long sword), as well as kodachi, and yari (spear), but no unarmed methods.

Or was it more a matter ofthem showing sword techniques and the Okinawans sharing unarmed techniques?

Not even that, I'd suggest. The idea of the Satsuma samurai just happily showing the Okinawans some sword techniques in a happy exchange is rather unlikely… which is one of the reasons that Matsumura is the most prominent name associated with these stories. Matsumura was part of the nobility on Okinawa, so most likely had more contact with the Japanese occupiers than others… and struck up some kind of relationship with Yashichiro. It's highly likely that it was a kind of mutual respect, probably based on each others martial prowess, as one account says that Yashichiro awarded Matsumura menkyo kaiden (full licence of mastery) after only half a year of initiation… and it's more than likely that Matsumura also shared some insight into his practice at the time.

Interestingly, Patrick McCarthy once asked the 11th Generation head of Jigen Ryu, Togo Shigemasa, about the connection between Jigen Ryu and karate, and the response was: "There can be no question that Jigen Ryu is connected to Okinawa's domestic fighting traditions; however, the question remains, which influenced which?"

Getting way off-topic, but I'd like to know more also. While it is more or less common knowledge that some karate pioneers, such as Bushi Matsumura, most likely studied Jigen ryu, I'm having a hard time seeing the influence of Jigen ryu in karate.

I can understand that… if you're looking for technical influence, that is. I'd personally look more to the strategic and philosophical ideals of each… Jigen Ryu is rather famed for it's ideals of focusing on the first strike being fast, powerful, and devastating… to the point that a secondary cut is not even considered. This is not too dissimilar to the ideal of "one strike, one kill" in some karate approaches. Additionally, it's sometimes suggested that Jigen Ryu's training practice involving tategi and yokogi (upright and horizontal striking poles or bundles of sticks) inspired, or at least, influenced the usage of karate's makiwara practice.

Our style contains two kata taught by Matsumura, Seisan and Gojushiho and when looking at videos of Jigen ryu, I just don't see any resemblance to anything I've learned.

Yeah, I know… but it's not always easy to see influence in physical forms. To keep with Jigen Ryu for the minute, let's look at some Jigen Ryu clips (warning… you might want to lower the volume on your computer… or turn it up if you're in public!):




As you can see from these clips, Jigen Ryu is a rather brutal, direct, fierce system of swordsmanship… often described as lacking the technical and finessed approaches of more "famous" systems… however…


This is Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu. About as far from Jigen Ryu as you can get… far longer techniques, much more technicality to the methods, very different postural and mechanical actions (even the cutting methods are different)… but Jigen Ryu is one of a large number of systems whose origins are based in Katori Shinto Ryu. And it's not an easy thing to see any (physical) connection there at all… but that doesn't mean there isn't one.
 

TimoS

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Thank you, Chris. I knew I could count on you to give good information. Funny coincidence, I've just been talking about this very subject on a Finnish martial arts board :)
I'd personally look more to the strategic and philosophical ideals of each… Jigen Ryu is rather famed for it's ideals of focusing on the first strike being fast, powerful, and devastating… to the point that a secondary cut is not even considered. This is not too dissimilar to the ideal of "one strike, one kill" in some karate approaches.
Yes, this is pretty much what I suspected also. Good to know that I'm not totally lost in my idea that there probably isn't any direct technical influence, at least none that can be seen anymore :)
 

Chris Parker

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No problem.

Say… been doing some more research into this… and here's some additional information/ideas for your Finnish conversations…

I've been looking more into Jigen Ryu, because, well, it's a highly intriguing system to me, and I was looking into the various lines. One thing that always comes up is the lack of Matsumura's name in any Jigen Ryu list, so I was looking for alternatives. I've already mentioned Jigen Ryu (mainline), and the Yakumaru (Nodachi) Jigen Ryu, both very similar systems, as well as Tenshinsho Jigen Ryu, and it's off-shoot Ryushin Jigen Ryu… but there is also Ko Jigen Ryu (little Jigen Ryu), and Ko Jigen Ryu (old Jigen Ryu).

The first of the Ko Jigen systems (little Jigen Ryu) was founded by a student of the third headmaster of the mainline Jigen Ryu, Togo Hizen on Kami Shigetoshi. This student, Ijuin Mondo Hisaaki, was the founder of Ko Jigen Ryu in the mid 17th Century (he actually was the "place-holder" head of Jigen Ryu for a short time… and when the fourth head was able to take his role, Ijuin left to form his own line). The name should ring some bells… as it's said that Shokon Matsumura received his Menkhyo Kaiden from his descendant, Ijuin Yashichiro. It should be noted that a number of sources (Japanese) claim that Matsumura was granted Menkyo from Ijuin Yahachiro… although he is also recorded to have died in 1810, a year after Matsumura was born. Yashichiro is an alternate name given, but no other corroborating list including his name have come forth. It's possible that he was simply a student of Ko Jigen Ryu, and the licence awarded was more "symbolic" than actual, or official… which would make sense considering the 6 month timespan given that Matsumura was said to have earned it in… especially as the training in many lines of Jigen Ryu insist on a number of years in basic conditioning training (tategi striking 3,000 times in the morning, 8,000 times in the afternoon) before even being introduced to the beginning kata sets… as well as making sense in regards to offering a member of the nobility a high licence, but not actually getting into the heart of the ryu itself (keeping it for the Satsuma samurai themselves).

Ko Jigen Ryu, I believe, doesn't exist anymore… but it was likely very similar to Jigen Ryu and Yakumaru Jigen Ryu which are still seen today.
 

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