- Apr 24, 2017
- Reaction score
- Washington, D.C.
Ha, not uncommon... a bit of a look has you posting here in 2017, where you said you had been training in martial arts for 10 years... so that's 5 years of "martial arts" before joining the Genbukan in 2012, teaching from 2017 or earlier. Cool.
Cute. Subtle, but nice try I suppose. Great way to start off your response post.
Well, everyone's in their own bubble, realistically... as far as "running their organisations in a manner that is relevant to today's world", well, that's really a matter of expectations more than anything else. For them to be run in a way that is relevant, then all that means is that some people find relevance in them to their modern lives... which a large number of people certainly seem to. Mind you, as you're focusing on the techniques, then it's not a matter of how the organisations themselves are run, but how the arts are taught within them, and how you perceive their connection to modern violence... correct?
I wasn't referring solely to physical techniques. For example, the Genbukan holds a large say over how you advertise your dojo, what you can say, how you can or can't recruit, who you're allowed or not allowed to associate with, etc.
Hmm... to be honest, I don't think this "additional knowledge" is what you're making it out to be, nor is it something that really has a lot of relevance to the discussion.
I find this statement quite surprising. I take it you're one of those that believe traditional Ninpo is completely all encompassing.
Here's what I mean: You seem to be doing what a lot of people do, which is fixate on a single context, whether understood or not, and expecting all martial systems to be answers to the same questions... they're not. But misunderstanding the context that they're meant to be applied in, and expecting them to have some relevance in that different context, then you'll never really get anything close to any understanding of these other arts, no matter what "access" you have to them might be. Additionally, access to a wider selection can also be a bad thing... not to pull too much of the curtain back here, but one of your affiliated dojo teachers proudly talks about his rank in a particular art, listing the teacher as well... thing is, that particular art is a fake system created in the 1980's, and will only give a rather inaccurate understanding of the entire field if it's followed... despite other, more solid teachers and arts this teacher in your affiliation has.
You are making quite a bit of inaccurate generalizations. For the first part of this paragraph, you aren't seeing the bigger picture and this is exactly the type of mentality that I am referring to. Every martial art came from a specific region of the world for a specific purpose. In order for Ninpo bugei to have been effective, shinobi had to learn an incredibly wide range of skills. Today, the purpose of Ninpo must be different since society is different, and safer. Hence, it becomes a more self-defense based system unless you are solely training soldiers. To remain effective as a self-defense system, it would be incredibly foolish not to learn concepts from other martial arts available to us. Ninpo constantly evolved throughout history, so why stop now?
For the second part of the paragraph, I know that quite a few people have been pretty bitter about "the teacher" that I believe you're referring to in our organization for having received his rank. If we're thinking of the same person, then I can tell you that it's very much so a legitimate system having seen photos and documents as proof. Let me remind you, however, that ryu-ha tend to grow/evolve when ownership is passed from teacher to student, which is the way it should be in order to remain relevant with the times. The system is taught with separation between both the old and new ways, as they are both taught and pointed out for the sake of preservation but also practicality/evolution.
Was it? What I mean by that is, what are you basing this assumption on?
We are speaking about people training as soldiers in a warrior society, not students paying to train as a hobby. These people were actual soldiers. This concept was not solely restricted to Japan either. Any warrior society or warrior class in history would have been the same, from the Romans to Indians to Aztecs, etc.
Not really. And exactly what was required would vary greatly based on the period, domain, role, rank, and so on... but, in the main, no.
Yes, training was dependent on other factors, I agree. But, yet again, we're talking about soldiers. Soldiers living in a warrior society, in a warrior class, practicing a martial system born from centuries of constant civil war. It's fairly self-explanatory.
Firstly, it seems you're watching different videos than I am, and I'm rather glad of that, ha! Secondly, if they're doing things like that, then, yeah, I'd laugh at them too... thirdly, and this is the important one... so what? Are they members of your dojo?
To your last question, people can do whatever they choose to even if they are making fools of themselves. I'm not very judgmental so I don't care at all from a personal level. I don't know how it is in Melbourne or your part of Australia but out here in the U.S., public perception is sadly a huge factor in determining how many people want to walk in through your doors. Out here everyone just wants to do Krav Maga, BJJ, or MMA. Even I attend a local BJJ/MMA school myself. But we have another teacher in our org that offers a Krav Maga program and older people with no martial arts experience drive over 40 minutes away to take Krav with him simply because they say they "it's the most effective self-defense in the world". Crazy. Krav is successful because it's marketed that way. The same with BJJ. I would love to see Ninpo become a more household and respectable name. This is how we can continue to preserve Ninpo.
Okay. I would say that what needs qualification is "realistic perspective".
Overly compliant uke. Enforcing more pressure testing. Tests shouldn't be completely kata-based. This is why there are so many dan ranks that are absolutely horrible in randori/sparring but can perform kata very well. I refer to them as "kata heroes". Our curriculum is very different. There is randori/sparring required for literally every section in every rank. This is why when Ninpo practitioners from other orgs say they have "x" amount of years experience in the art more than me, it doesn't phase me the least bit. How you spend your years training is more important than the number of years. BJJ white belts are a great representation of that. Recently it was just my assistant instructor and I in class so we decided to just spar with our bokken for the whole hour and a half of class. I have people brand new to classes doing randori in their first few days as well.
And, honestly, a lot of criticisms of their teaching methodology can be quite valid... but it needs to be valid in the context in which it's intended. As the, likely apocryphal quote from Einstein says, "Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by it's ability to climb a tree, it will spend the entirety of it's life thinking it's an idiot."... likewise, here, the criticisms have to match the aims... and, to be honest, I don't know that that's always the case... a good case in point these days is the Martial Arts Journey you-tube channel, where the you-tuber, Rokas, only sees his own particular (and, to a degree, inaccurate) beliefs, and judges things based on an expectation that should never be applied.
Personally I am not a fan of Rokas' content though I respect his honesty and humility quite a bit. It shows good character but he tends to lump in all traditional MAs together based on his experience specifically in Aikido. Again, this proves my recent point about how you spend your years training is more important than the number of years. But I think my previous response answers this as well.
Yeah... look, I'll be honest here, and say that you're looking in the wrong place, so no wonder you're not finding your answers there...
I'll put it this way: Why would you expect an art, or series of arts, taught in a traditional manner, from a different culture and time, dealing with a different cultural approach to violence, a different cultural approach to passing on traditions, with the emphasis being the continuation of traditions themselves, including traditional skills, to actually be something geared up for what would be a completely alien context to the one they were created for? It's the equivalent of complaining that the course in classic French cuisine didn't teach you to make a pizza or hamburger, and that's what you want to eat...
Correct me if I'm wrong but it almost sounds like you are saying you study Ninpo for the sake of preservation. I mean, if that is true then, well...you do you...
Now, I understand you can't practice many skills in Ninpo by competing in tournaments so I could care less about them. I will say that I have gotten into more scuffles than your average person prior to my Ninpo training. Everything was always in self-defense of myself or someone else. Things I know that are true that you won't learn from purely training against compliant uke: your opponents don't hold their limbs out for you to grab, you probably won't catch someone's punch mid-air, no one overextends themselves and lunges in for a straight forward punch, the importance of kyo. Nowadays, many people with no martial arts experience know how to perform single/double-leg takedowns and rear naked chokeholds. Before the 2000s a lot of people knew how to jab, hook, cross, so it's typically already on top of that. The basics of what society is learning about fighting is increasing year by year. You fight how you train, and if you can't train against realistic attacks and build the proper muscle memory to deal with them, then your training amounts to nothing (not you, just in general).
This needs major qualification... what teachings of "ninjutsu" are you referring to? Climbing castle walls? Silent running? Water concealment methods? Disguise? Weather prediction? Next, what kind of application are you expecting them to have? There are traditional methods for lighting fire, or a candle that always stays upright (and lit)... but today we have flashlights on our phones, and lighters and matches... so... no? Yes? As far as "effective", well, that depends on the first two parts... the candle still works, but it's not as effective as a powered light, so, how does that work?
Of course, if you're talking combative techniques, then there's a whole other mess of things to go through... including whether or not that's actually the point of the techniques themselves...
I'm strictly referring to combatives. You can't always escape and walking away isn't always the best option.
Yes, but it's not likely in the way you might think.
How might I think?
It's a traditional martial art... to "massively modernise" it would take it away from being a traditional art... so, if the point is that it's a traditional art, and people study it because it's a traditional art, then... no. I would probably argue that a number of the methods of teaching that traditional art are sub-optimal, or overtly geared towards one facet over others (including image projection, but that's another conversation), but we're now back to the idea of looking for answers in the wrong area. If you want something geared towards modern violence and self defence needs, well, don't do a traditional art. You don't have to change them, just do something different.
This is a common response from many people who choose to protect their years of training in a traditional art. However, they fail to look back at history and realize throughout the centuries of warfare where our arts were born were still constantly adapting and modernizing in order to remain effective and relevant. What makes an art "traditional"? Is it rei-ho? Spirituality? Does it have to be koryu/pre-Edo? Again, I get the impression that you don't truly feel there's much in your Ninpo training outside of traditional preservation. Ninpo bugei have always evolved and adapted but for some reason that seems to have stopped some time in the late 20th century.
To be honest, this argument (and this is far from the first time I've heard it) is deeply lacking in understanding how violence changes... sure, mechanics are still mechanics... application, however, is in the cultural context...
Once again going to point out your constant inaccurate generalizations. I am fully aware of what it means. My entire post has basically been me speaking to Ninpo within the big 3 x-kans needing an overhaul on application of what are great techniques.
You said it yourself; they're traditional. Why would you expect them to have modern attacks? I don't expect my seniors in Katori Shinto Ryu to suddenly start teaching me how to use a naginata against a FMA guy, just in case...
Again, referring to one of my earlier responses, who is to say Ninpo has to remain koryu forever? Did it not constantly evolve over several centuries? This is a huge issue in the Ninpo community, this over-romanticization of Ninpo forever having to remain completely koryu.
No, it's a disconnect in expectation (and the image you have in your head of "martial arts" and "self defence") and the reality of a traditional art.
That's incorrect. I'm referring to quite a lot more than just the physical, combative techniques such as (but not limited to) bureaucracy, favoritism, micro-management.
So, a competition based system, which trains for competition, and has competitive training methods, is better at a competitive application and training context than ones that don't? Okay... but how's their swordsmanship? What's their appreciation of cultural aspects? How's their sense of ma-ai when dealing with different weapons? What's their reigi and zanshin like? Can we see how one approach might be more geared towards development of different things than another?
Again, to me, this is pretty simple... if you are training in a traditional system, and are upset that you're not likely to monster someone in the Octagon, well, no kidding? Similarly, if you're training for the UFC, don't expect to learn much that's outside of that context either... both are great for different people, but expecting them to be equally applicable across the board is to fundamentally misunderstand martial arts and their scope.
I think you took what I said out of context. While I mostly agree with your statement, I think you missed my overall point. Whatever their art is, their purpose, they train by constant randori/sparring. I also make points about tournament-centric MAs lacking things like zanshin or how to deal with multiple attackers, or not having weapons training as well, don't get me wrong. At the end of the day, I prefer MAs born from battlefields more than competition-centric MAs. But this mindset that they cannot or should not evolve is very closed-minded.
And fair enough. And, just so it doesn't seem like I'm just making excuses for these arts, the idea of not really getting the difference in contexts is pretty rampant through even these organisations, trying to be all things to all people, so it doesn't overly surprise me that you might be having these (to my mind, unrealistic) expectations. One of the most senior Genbukan instructors in the US, Michael Coleman, has recently started doing a series of videos, starting with some ryu-ha ones that I linked on another thread... slightly more recently, he's put up three videos looking at the Genbukan Goshinjutsu (Self Defence) program that Tanemura created... and, watching them, all I could think of was that there is absolutely no appreciation for the different forms of violence today in the West, as it's all still very much "traditional" in execution and application... and, honestly, I feel sad for people who think that that equates to a modern self defence approach, as it frankly isn't. And I like Michael... this is just... bad information.
Oh I know what my expectations are and they are not unrealistic at all. I know this because much of what I said aren't solely my own views, and the purpose of our organization seeks to ensure Ninpo remains relevant to produce modern Ninpo-ka in a modern world here in the U.S. My intention isn't to completely change traditional Ninpo, but I would laugh at anyone who would dares to tell me there doesn't need to be revisions/updates.
As for Kyoshi Coleman, I saw those videos when they were posted and yes, I agree.