Modernization of Ninjutsu

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Yamabushii

Yamabushii

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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.
 

drop bear

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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.

This is an interesting distinction as I know soldiers who train in martial arts. (There is a club up in Townsville, not ninjitsu, that is run by an ex soldier as has huge links to current serving members.)

But they have a policy that everyone is required to train together from hobbiests to soldiers to proffesional fighters.

So the ethos of the club seems to be broad enough to accommodate all these different sorts of mindsets. And I have trained there. It is a proffesional, friendly non toxic atmosphere.

So this guy is the person who trains the Australian army.


The guy who runs the gym is an ex soldier buy also had an extensive sports fighting career.

 
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Yamabushii

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This is an interesting distinction as I know soldiers who train in martial arts. (There is a club up in Townsville, not ninjitsu, that is run by an ex soldier as has huge links to current serving members.)

But they have a policy that everyone is required to train together from hobbiests to soldiers to proffesional fighters.

So the ethos of the club seems to be broad enough to accommodate all these different sorts of mindsets. And I have trained there. It is a proffesional, friendly non toxic atmosphere.

So this guy is the person who trains the Australian army.


The guy who runs the gym is an ex soldier buy also had an extensive sports fighting career.


Great stuff. Nowadays I know it's different for soldiers as martial arts are optional or if you're in the special forces (outside of basics). I work almost entirely with current or prior military in my classes. I know it's also a great escape for a lot of folks after retiring or a deployment or something.
 

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I don't want to put words in Mr. Parker's mouth, so I am sure he will correct me if I am interpreting this wrong.

In reference to historical context vs. modern: Yamabushii talked about training against a boxer's jabs and crosses. This is the whole point...ninjutsu would not have been designed or used against a toe to toe confrontation like that. It is a COMPLETLEY different mindset, not to mention different strategies and tactics. Ninjutsu techniques were designed for escape and evasion. It would have been designed and used if you did get seen/caught by the guards to get away as quickly as possible.

Look at a "streetfight" and what it typically looks like and then find some videos of a suspect just trying to get away from the police to escape and avoid being arrested. Talk to any LEO and they can verify that there is a big difference between a person struggling to try and get away and a person wanting to actively fight with you.

I see this as well in other arts. For example, if you look at older military combatives (Not talking about the newer stuff in the military based on GJJ/MMA that the military admits is used because they want the competition to develop a fighting spirit). It was designed to crush windpipes, gouge out eyes, use whatever you could find as an improvised weapon to kill and take out the enemy. How does that translate into civilian self-defense? It doesn't unless you completely change what it is and then still try and call it by the original name. If you have been around MA for awhile, there was a HUGE trend for awhile on "Reality Based Self-Defense" (RBSD) and they basically did take the old military combatives and teach those for civilian self-defense. BUT, they understood the disconnect, so they taught it as EVERY attacker is someone out to kill you and you are in fear for your life to justify using it.

So, if you REALLY wanted to use Ninjutsu for self-defense and "modernize" it. Your classes would be on emotional intelligence (seeing things from another's perspective), how to read people and body language, de-escalation tactics, understanding set up tactics for a mugging and other scams. You would train them in how to be a "gray man" (term coined by preppers/survivalists) and blend in with your surroundings so you don't stand out. The physical stuff would be very similar to what the original techniques were in learning how to defeat holds, how to distract and/or stun your attacker and get away. Your classes would also teach how to run "smart" and use the environment to their advantage, where to run to get away, even how to safely hide if you got away and can't get back to your car/home right away.
 
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Yamabushii

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I don't want to put words in Mr. Parker's mouth, so I am sure he will correct me if I am interpreting this wrong.

In reference to historical context vs. modern: Yamabushii talked about training against a boxer's jabs and crosses. This is the whole point...ninjutsu would not have been designed or used against a toe to toe confrontation like that. It is a COMPLETLEY different mindset, not to mention different strategies and tactics. Ninjutsu techniques were designed for escape and evasion. It would have been designed and used if you did get seen/caught by the guards to get away as quickly as possible.

Look at a "streetfight" and what it typically looks like and then find some videos of a suspect just trying to get away from the police to escape and avoid being arrested. Talk to any LEO and they can verify that there is a big difference between a person struggling to try and get away and a person wanting to actively fight with you.

I see this as well in other arts. For example, if you look at older military combatives (Not talking about the newer stuff in the military based on GJJ/MMA that the military admits is used because they want the competition to develop a fighting spirit). It was designed to crush windpipes, gouge out eyes, use whatever you could find as an improvised weapon to kill and take out the enemy. How does that translate into civilian self-defense? It doesn't unless you completely change what it is and then still try and call it by the original name. If you have been around MA for awhile, there was a HUGE trend for awhile on "Reality Based Self-Defense" (RBSD) and they basically did take the old military combatives and teach those for civilian self-defense. BUT, they understood the disconnect, so they taught it as EVERY attacker is someone out to kill you and you are in fear for your life to justify using it.

So, if you REALLY wanted to use Ninjutsu for self-defense and "modernize" it. Your classes would be on emotional intelligence (seeing things from another's perspective), how to read people and body language, de-escalation tactics, understanding set up tactics for a mugging and other scams. You would train them in how to be a "gray man" (term coined by preppers/survivalists) and blend in with your surroundings so you don't stand out. The physical stuff would be very similar to what the original techniques were in learning how to defeat holds, how to distract and/or stun your attacker and get away. Your classes would also teach how to run "smart" and use the environment to their advantage, where to run to get away, even how to safely hide if you got away and can't get back to your car/home right away.

It depends on your perspective. I am not going to say mine is the only correct one, but I certainly am not a hardcore traditionalist. I do appreciate the traditional aspects of the art very much so, but for me, practicing the art isn't for the sake of preservation, it's for practicality. But regarding utilizing boxers' jabs and crosses, you can say the same about the Jujutsu that's a part of most Ninpo schools as well. Why stand there and engage with someone when you can just throw some metsubushi and run away or hide? The idea behind teaching aspects of boxing is to incorporate realistic attacks from the uke, as well as utilizing shoulders rolls and bobbing and weaving to close the distance on someone to go for a takedown. You can't always escape. Sometimes you have to engage, and it's not usually as simple as grabbing someone.

Chris and I may disagree on preservation vs practicality, but that's okay.
 

Hanzou

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So my questions for anyone willing to answer:

1) Do you find the traditional teachings of Ninjutsu are still applicable and effective in today's world?
1a) If so, do you have successful real-world experience in applying your techniques in self-defense or in the defense of someone else?
2) Do you think Ninjutsu needs a massive modernization in its methods of teachings in the big 3 X-kans?

Disclaimer: No disrespect to anyone in the Buj/Gen/Jin orgs since I know some folks in the orgs that thankfully don't fit the description above. They are, however, the minority exception.

A "massive modernization" would have to be something along the lines of Kano's modernization of Judo, where you reject the fluff and focus on maximizing the most effective techniques utilizing a modern methodology. This is a concept that I find rather interesting, and I would be very interested in seeing what would develop from it. And yes, I believe that Ninjutsu definitely needs it. As it stands, I feel the art is slowly fading into obscurity and dillution.

I had hoped that Stephen Hayes would go that route with Toshindo, but that has largely been a bust. That said, I don't know what lane a modernized Ninjutsu could occupy. Currently you have four major martial arts that are descended from Jujutsu; Judo, Aikido, BJJ, and Sambo. If self defense and effectiveness is your goal, you should look at Judo and its descendant styles of BJJ and Sambo. If modernization with a strong traditional aesthetic is your gaol, Aikido would be a good model to look upon. I think following a mixed path that blends the effectiveness of the Judo-based systems and the traditional aesthetic of Aikido would be the best way to modernize the art. However, what would this system be like? Would it include striking? Would it only be throws? Would it contain kata? Would it provide some level of weapon training?

These are all questions that would need to be answered. Obviously the main thing that would need to happen would be the community having a desire to modernize.
 
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drop bear

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A "massive modernization" would have to be something along the lines of Kano's modernization of Judo, where you reject the fluff and focus on maximizing the most effective techniques utilizing a modern methodology. This is a concept that I find rather interesting, and I would be very interested in seeing what would develop from it. And yes, I believe that Ninjutsu definitely needs it. As it stands, I feel the art is slowly fading into obscurity and dillution.

I had hoped that Stephen Hayes would go that route with Toshindo, but that has largely been a bust. That said, I don't know what lane a modernized Ninjutsu could occupy. Currently you have four major martial arts that are descended from Jujutsu; Judo, Aikido, BJJ, and Sambo. If self defense and effectiveness is your goal, you should look at Judo and its descendant styles of BJJ and Sambo. If modernization with a strong traditional aesthetic is your gaol, Aikido would be a good model to look upon. I think following a mixed path that blends the effectiveness of the Judo-based systems and the traditional aesthetic of Aikido would be the best way to modernize the art. However, what would this system be like? Would it include striking? Would it only be throws? Would it contain kata? Would it provide some level of weapon training?

These are all questions that would need to be answered. Obviously the main thing that would need to happen would be the community having a desire to modernize.

I think Dog brothers or even a hema would be the modernisation of Ninjutsu.

 

Hanzou

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I think Dog brothers or even a hema would be the modernisation of Ninjutsu.


Yeah, I know Akban is Ninjutsu/Bjj/hema.

I dunno, guess I was just thinking more along the lines of Judo and Aikido.
 

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Yeah, I know Akban is Ninjutsu/Bjj/hema.

I dunno, guess I was just thinking more along the lines of Judo and Aikido.
The issue is that going down those kind of routes means removing key parts of techniques (eg striking in the case of judo and a whole load of other stuff in the case of Aikido)
Which is essentially the steps that their founders took
And by doing that you lose what makes the art distinct

Having said that I do think theres scope to add more realism in the training methods and to integrate obvious gaps like newaza. Is this modernisation? Maybe

If you really wanted to modernise it then youd focus on using / dealing with weapons that are available nowadays (no more swords and spears etc). Which might be an interesting journey to go down
When do we replace the jutte with a beer bottle, or really study how to use an umbrella for example?
 

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The issue is that going down those kind of routes means removing key parts of techniques (eg striking in the case of judo and a whole load of other stuff in the case of Aikido)
Which is essentially the steps that their founders took
And by doing that you lose what makes the art distinct

Having said that I do think theres scope to add more realism in the training methods and to integrate obvious gaps like newaza. Is this modernisation? Maybe

If you really wanted to modernise it then youd focus on using / dealing with weapons that are available nowadays (no more swords and spears etc). Which might be an interesting journey to go down
When do we replace the jutte with a beer bottle, or really study how to use an umbrella for example?

Would it be possible to relegate striking to kata like Judo, and utilize weapons to expand unarmed concepts like Aikido does with the bokken and still retain the flavor/distinctiveness of the system?
 

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Would it be possible to relegate striking to kata like Judo, and utilize weapons to expand unarmed concepts like Aikido does with the bokken and still retain the flavor/distinctiveness of the system?

You could do striking like kudo. And probably even do padded weapons.
 

drop bear

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The issue is that going down those kind of routes means removing key parts of techniques (eg striking in the case of judo and a whole load of other stuff in the case of Aikido)
Which is essentially the steps that their founders took
And by doing that you lose what makes the art distinct

Having said that I do think theres scope to add more realism in the training methods and to integrate obvious gaps like newaza. Is this modernisation? Maybe

If you really wanted to modernise it then youd focus on using / dealing with weapons that are available nowadays (no more swords and spears etc). Which might be an interesting journey to go down
When do we replace the jutte with a beer bottle, or really study how to use an umbrella for example?

I think if you could actually sword fight or take a weapon off someone that would be a modern applicable skill

Rather than replace the sword with a beer bottle but not update the expectations of results.
 

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Yes the concepts are not unique hence why I used that training exercise as an example of catch all training.

So... you recognise that the benefit you're claiming is found in hill sprints is found in all manner of martial arts, modern, traditional, classical, competitive, non-competitive... which is why you suggest a non-martial art training method as a "catch-all exercise" for all martial arts? What?

So if you can perform that one function for example it makes you better at other aspects of martial arts.

How does hill sprints help with my te no uchi? What aspect of te hodoki is benefitted from hill sprints? How do hill sprints help in my sense of ma-ai, kime, seme? How am I advantaged by doing hill sprints with regards to suri ashi? If you don't get any of those words, then you're in no position to even start to enter this conversation, by the way...

The mental considerations are a large part of traditional martial arts.

Yes, they are. Far more than you understand or realise, frankly...

So that one exercise makes you fitter. Makes you mentally tougher and more disciplined. Will make you last longer in a fight. Makes you able to train for longer with better results.

This is the problem with you only having one frame of reference... within our arts, we have methods to address such aspects... they are approached and addressed in a particular way (unique to each school), in a way that is congruent with the school itself, and geared up to the specific needs and ideals of that school. In other words, each of the aspects you're talking about are not considered "general" in classical (or many traditional) arts... "mentally tougher" is a small part of the overall mindset, but you need to understand what the school itself means by that... same with "fitness"... "discipline"... and hill sprints are a rather indirect way of addressing such an idea when it comes to these arts.

In other words, get out of your own head if you want to be seen as speaking in any way intelligently in this area.

So while you might suggest you have advantages out side of context.(in this case being running up and down a hill)

You actually kind of don't have as much advantage as you think you do.

Are you just making up other people's comments as you go along? And, I really have to say, you don't know anything like what you think you do... nor do you have any clue what "advantage" might be present.

Basically you might have studied mental toughness and be an expert on the subject. But are not as mentally tough as that person who isn't an expert but just grinds harder.

Wow... what on earth are you talking about? You say that the reason hill sprints are the best "catch-all" exercise for martial arts is due to the mental forbearance that can be attained by simply "grinding it out", and I say that such things are addressed in classical arts training... you think this means "studying mental toughness"?!?!

Dude.... men of straw do not an argument make.

Quite often this idea of specialist skill in context turns out to be not true and is more of an ego stroking exercise.

You mean like BJJ's specialist skill in ground work? Are you kidding? Do you know what you're talking about?

Well if OP discussing a modern approach I would suggest he is asking for a practical approach.

Potentially... but from their perspective of what that means, of course.

And honestly modern and practical are kind two different things.

So... you're arguing against the exact sentence you just said?

So practical honest training, honest evaluation and efficient development, ego free culture, cult free culture all that kind of thing is kind of the context I am discussing here.

HA!!! Yeah... cause modern arts don't have any cult cultures, or ego issues, and are all honest in how they train and assess themselves..... right....

How to be a better martial artist and how to be a better person.

This is so devoid of the necessary context as to be completely meaningless. A "better martial artist"? What does that mean? Not to put too fine a point on it, but I would suggest that I know a hell of a lot more about the variety of martial arts, their history, methodologies, training ideologies and pedagogies from a wider variety of cultures and contexts than you have a clue of even existing in the first place... does that make me a better martial artist? I might be ranked in 10 different systems, does that make me a better martial artist? I might only know one area, and be incredibly good at that, but be clueless about the rest of the topic and subject of martial arts, only knowing my one system and one context... does that make me a better martial artist? What is a "better martial artist" at all?

Look, the point is that "better" needs to be qualified to a great degree... if your qualification is "can beat up a lot of people", then we have wildly different views as to what makes someone a "better martial artist"... as opposed to a better fighter... and, even then, context is important... competition isn't really "fighting", as far as I'm concerned... it's competing in a particular field. This, of course, gets even more complicated when it comes to "a better person"... as, bluntly, your approach is more the former, whereas we've (classical arts) been far more concerned with the latter for centuries.

It doesn't have to be definitively conclusive. It is a structure to build personal development honestly. Not a peer reviewed paper.

So you observe your historical technique.

Research what it is supposed to do.

Suggest if it is going to work or not.

Go fight a whole bunch of guys and try to make that work.

Figure out if it was you hin or the technique that failed.

Then do the whole thing again.

This is so far outside of how any of this works that I hardly know where to start... especially when talking classical arts... frankly, in this context, this is meaningless, and you don't have a clue what you're talking about.

Once you get a bunch of guys doing that. You can get a general feel as to what is going to work and what isn't.

In a particular context. Within certain conditions and parameters. Which could easily not match anything close to the way the techniques are designed, the cultural expectations that surrounded the development of the methodology, and far more. In other words, you could end up with an expectation that fish should all climb trees...

Like fly kicks. Which have a lot of very interesting preconceptions around them. Designed for horses, doesn't work on the streets and so on.

You keep going back to that, and mis-represent every aspect of them... including the way you presented the video you linked earlier. Wasn't one of your first steps "research what it's supposed to do"? Have you considered doing that for any of these conversations, or are you just going to keep telling people doing something that it doesn't match your (incorrect) expectations, like in the sword thread where you were trying to tell us what sword training was about?
 

Chris Parker

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Hey Tony,

By your own argument in the other thread, the curriculum in the various X-kans is really a modern synthesis rather than an authentic transmission of the historical ryu-ha. That being the case, wouldn't it make sense for such a modern synthesis to be functional for addressing modern violence? If it's already been changed as much from its historical antecedents as you argue, then further change to achieve such functionality seems reasonable. (Especially since so many instructors within the X-kans promote their art as being functional against modern violence.)

Ha, I was kinda expecting that argument to come up... in this case, it's less about the literal "letter of the law" look at the curriculum, but more in the way it is presented (marketed?), which is as a traditional, historically (classically) based system. Do I think they are an accurate representation of such? That's a different discussion (hopefully I'll get back to that one in a bit). But the important factor here is that they are presented as historical, traditional methods... so to go to something that markets and presents itself as such, but also expect it to be a modern-focused (non-traditional) method for dealing with modern contexts and situations is, I would suggest, demanding to know why your crepe suzette isn't a chocolate mud cake... well, which did you order?

As far as many X-Kan (especially, but not limited to Bujinkan membership) promoting themselves and the system as "functional against modern violence" I would put down to more ignorance of context and lack of understanding than anything else... as well as a fair bit of Kool aid drinking, and taking Hatsumi's (bluntly, largely uninformed and off-base) statements on face value, accepting them uncritically... couple that with the well-worn (and, again, wildly inaccurate) idea of "these techniques are battle-tested!!!" (they're not) as some kind of evidence to back up their claims... so, yeah, frankly? They're not really correct at all. Now, as a caveat, can the methods be utilised in some way that proves functional? Sure. But that's more a side-benefit that is both largely incidental, and not reliable enough to back consistently.

Of course, this does muddy the waters here a lot... to be completely frank, the vast majority of Bujinkan instructors that I've come across I would describe as lacking in their ability to grasp either context (traditional or modern... with the "traditional" being largely superficial and lacking in appreciation, and the "modern" being overly lip service without insight). Additionally, the changes that I describe in the other thread isn't anything to do with "modernisation", or dealing with modern violence at all... it's more to have a consistent base to build the "traditional" approach on.

I can appreciate an historical art which focuses on aspects of violence which are not so relevant to modern usage, such as swordsmanship.

Sure. Of course, something so removed as swordsmanship might not be as far removed as one might think... and a fair bit of the unarmed approaches might be a lot more removed than one might believe... it depends how you interpret the ri-ai...

I think such an art can be enjoyed for its own sake and can even lead to insights into principles of fighting in other contexts.

This is very true. In fact, I would posit that training in such arts gives a more realistic understanding and appreciation for a number of aspects of violence than many of the "more realistic" approaches found today...

However I do want such an art to be functional on its own terms. If you teach a sword art, it should work for actual sword fighting.

Taking it out of the arena of the X-Kan's, yep. That's precisely what we do. The biggest challenge is coming to terms with exactly what that means in the first place...

Unfortunately I have seen numerous high-ranking X-kan instructors teaching swordsmanship which is ludicrously bad. The ma-ai is completely wrong for the historical weapons being used and some of the techniques would literally only work if the opponent happened to have a stroke in the middle of his attack. I'm not saying this is true of all X-kan instructors. I'm just saying that it's widespread enough that an X-kan student with no relevant outside experience will have a hard time recognizing which techniques being taught are valid and which are bogus.

Oh.... you really don't want to hear my critiques... on this, or many other facets...

I finally got around to watching these and I have to agree. He seems to be a sincere guy and the quality of his movement isn't bad, but the majority of the techniques shown will not work the way he thinks they will. It's not even just a matter of "modern" vs "traditional". Yes, the attacks shown are mostly not typical of modern violence. However even if he were transported to some historical/cultural scenario where someone came at him with kind of the attacks shown, he would have a very low success rate, assuming the attackers were even halfway competent and determined.

I think a big part of that is the lack of awareness of the role of uke/uchidachi/teki in the various X-Kan's... as well as the somewhat false belief that the techniques represent anything like an actual violent encounter, even "back in the day"... they don't. More often, they are illustrating a principle or point, and re-enforcing other aspects and underlying concepts... especially at the levels we're looking at, they're, to a great degree, preparatory methods to work towards something more approximating something that suits a violent encounter... but not in the way that something like, say, BJJ operates. I'll see if I can explain...

BJJ is focused pretty much entirely on "functional" actions... something that can be used in a practical sense. Of course, the unspoken part there is "used in what context?", as that affects things more than many of the "modern" proponents would like to recognise or admit... but that's another discussion. Importantly, the pedagogy of BJJ is one where you get taught a movement (an escape, a sweep, a choke, a submission, whatever), you drill it, and then you should be able to apply it in the context of the training (rolling, competition, etc). That's great... but it's not how traditional/classical arts operate. These arts are more about building a body structure and mentality by using what I would refer to as "representative" techniques... they aren't about how you would actually do anything, although you might do something that is pretty much exactly the way the technique "works". They're about developing a way of engaging, not a set of techniques. In this way, the two approaches are pretty much as directly opposite as you can possibly get... although it could be argued that the end result is very similar.

A modern "functional" system works by giving you practical, immediate use techniques... and, over time (months, years, decades), you develop a sense of the underlying principles and concepts, enabling you to come up with any of a myriad of variations in the moment, where you aren't relying on knowing this escape, or that choke, but instead know (internally, in a body-sense) how escapes operate, and how chokes work, how to defend against an opponent's attempt to counter, and so on. The "technique" starts as the most important facet, and becomes the least. In a traditional/classical art, however, the techniques themselves are not overly important... they're simply a way of expressing the principles and concepts in a consistent fashion. They're far from the only possible expression, and the major emphasis is in ensuring that all your movements and actions include and embody these principles and concepts, more than "doing the technique". This is why Musashi's system, for example, even after decades of life-and-death duelling, and then even more decades of teaching, basically boiled down to 5 postures and 5 "kata". That's it. Those 5 techniques weren't in any way the entirety of his technical repertoire, but they did embody and represent all the most important principles and concepts... so you didn't need a whole bunch of techniques. However, by exploring the principles, at the end of the day, you also developed a series of physical responses and mechanical skills that could then be used in a "real" situation.

In other words, modern "functional" schools start with techniques to lead to principles, and classical/traditional arts start with principles and explore them by adding technical skills... at the end of the day, though, neither are restricted to the technical side, but are expressions of the principles of that art. The biggest problem is when people get them confused... thinking the techniques of traditional systems are geared around the same "functional" ideals as a modern (typically competitive) one... which is where the disconnect happens as indicated above.

BTW - Michael clearly has a high regard for his instructor. That's not a bad thing, but too much faith can lead to blind spots. According to what he says in the first video, Tanemura created this self-defense curriculum based just on moves that he had personally used successfully more times than he can remember, presumably during his career as a police officer. It's possible that Michael may have misinterpreted what Tanemura meant. If Tanemura actually is making those claims ... I don't want to violate the MartialTalk TOS, so let's just say that I would have a very hard time believing him without some solid evidence. There are way too many techniques in the curriculum, a large percentage are against attacks that a police officer is unlikely to encounter, and a large number are techniques which have a very low percentage chance of success. It's theoretically possible that a criminal tried to wristlock Tanemura and he successfully countered with a Kani Basami into an incompetently applied ankle lock, but I doubt it. It's theoretically possible that a criminal tried to stab him with a knife and he successfully defended by delivering a shuto to the bicep so powerfully that the suspect not only dropped the knife but fell down and stopped fighting, but I doubt it. It's theoretically possible that a criminal attacked him with a sword (very poorly) and he was able to evade, grab the wrist, and disarm the suspect using a technique where his leverage was inferior to that of the swordsman, but I doubt it. I really, really doubt that these and others happened more times than he can remember.

Ha, that was far more diplomatic than I would have put it... but, yes, absolutely.

And, here's the thing... anyone teaching a "self defence system" as a series of techniques has no clue what they're doing. I've mentioned many times that, in my dojo, "self defence" and "martial arts" are completely separate... they are different sections of the class, and are separated by other sections so they don't get confused (and to provide more distinction internally/mentally between them)... but here's the real thing... I don't really teach any techniques. I teach with techniques, but I don't teach techniques... because that doesn't work. Is what I teach "functional"? Yeah, I like to think so... but it's only so due to an understanding of the contexts and principles that I'm working within. "Technical" teaching needs to be kept to a minimum, as techniques are specific answers, and, as such, suited to specific applications... and self defence methodologies offer no real guarantee of such defined situations, so they can't be relied upon. Lucky for me, classical arts have the same attitude... work with principles, and let the techniques match the situation...
 

Hanzou

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You could do striking like kudo. And probably even do padded weapons.

Yeah, with modern technology, striking is relatively safe, so you could incorporate it into sparring practice.

I do feel that the weapon training is better left to kata practice, or as an exercise to further practice unarmed skills. Aikido has the right approach IMO.
 

Chris Parker

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Cute. Subtle, but nice try I suppose. Great way to start off your response post.

You may have missed the point...

You stated that, in 2012, you had just started, and came onto forums thinking you had all the answers... I was pointing out that, really, you're still pretty green, all things considered... and, to be honest, still buying into a lot of the imagery, despite the protestations.

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.

Oh, I know... I have a number of friends and acquaintances who have left, and have heard plenty of similar stories...

I find this statement quite surprising. I take it you're one of those that believe traditional Ninpo is completely all encompassing.

Ha! That's heading in exactly the wrong direction there...

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?

Okay, let's break this down a bit...

"Every martial art came from a specific region of the world for a specific purpose."

Yep, agreed. Of course, you need to look beyond just geography and to the cultural context... but that's a deeper question...

"In order for Ninpo bugei to have been effective, shinobi had to learn an incredibly wide range of skills."

No. This is a completely false understanding of history... for one thing, "shinobi" were simply anyone engaging in the act of gathering information... which could be scouting, infiltration, or just asking questions... the idea of the "unstoppable warrior" is a fantasy trope. Most "shinobi" were simply samurai checking out how many troops in the other guys camp, or asking about the schedule of someone or other. "Ninpo bugei" is largely a modern construct, and is neither larger nor smaller in terms of skills than any other martial system (in other words, we use the term "ninpo bugei" to refer to martial systems that are linked historically with the people of Iga and related areas... who weren't really "ninja", but bushi, warriors... their connection to what would later be classified/described as "ninja/shinobi" is not reflective of them being "ninja").

"Today, the purpose of Ninpo must be different since society is different, and safer."

Must it? Why?

"Hence, it becomes a more self-defence based system unless you are solely training soldiers."

Why? I'm serious here... if you're wanting a self-defence oriented system, why train in one that is claiming to be techniques from Japan from centuries ago? And why should it change just because you have a value that isn't the same as the way the system is designed in the first place?

"To remain effective as a self-defence system, it would be incredibly foolish not to learn concepts from other martial arts available to us."

Firstly, you're again applying a value you hold, and insisting that it be applied to something that is, in pretty much every way, not designed to be suited to that value. Secondly, no, that's not really how you deal with creating an effective self-defence system... you start by understanding the context, modern forms of violence, the legal system in the area you're teaching, psychology, both of the victim and the predator, behavioural psychology as it relates to processes and development, and so on. "Techniques" are the least important aspect... so mining other arts, especially without a lot of involvement in said arts, is, simply, a superficial approach with limited advantages.

"Ninpo constantly evolved throughout history, so why stop now?"

Has it? What do you base that on? And, again, why would it need to conform to a situation that isn't present in it's native land, let alone being relevant to it's position as teaching classical/traditional arts?

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.

No, I'm not talking about Mark. I know the response he got when he received his rank a couple of years back, and I was one of the ones pointing out that it was perfectly legitimate. I'm talking about "Itto Tenshin Ryu", which Luiz is now training in... we don't fraud bust here, but... yeah... looking into the school and Fred Louvret might reveal some things...

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.

Yeah... so... you might have a bit of an unrealistic understanding of what any of that entails...

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.

Yeah... considering your overly romanticised and largely inaccurate descriptions of such training (describing it as "24/7"), as well as the above, I'm not sure you have much of a sense of what such training actually was, how it was conducted, and so forth...

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.

Except we're not talking about "soldiers"... we're talking about a warrior class of society, but most of the ryu that we have were formed or solidified in the Edo period, particularly unarmed systems (yeah, we're ignoring the stated histories... they are... not accurate), which makes much of their history, if not all of it, removed from anything like battlefield usage. But we need to focus on what that actually means... people get fixated on the "warrior" part, equating it to soldiers and persons plying their trade on the battlefield (which is, believe it or not, not what the systems themselves were designed for), however the part that needs to be taken into account is the second part... "class of society". In other words, training in a ryu was as much a part of fulfilling your societal role than anything to do with engaging in violence... with many schools acting as overall education systems as anything else.

In other words, this is overly romanticised and rather inaccurate.

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.

Er... I don't think you got what I meant when I asked if they were members of your dojo (putting out "videos doing funky hand signs, wearing black shinobi shizoku, in broad day light, and/or sitting on broken tree trunks doing awful ukemi, meanwhile hash tagging everything and getting laughed at online."... I was saying that, unless the people putting these videos out are members of your dojo, why do you care? Oh, and for someone not being very judgmental, you certainly seem to have a judgement of the videos you've seen...

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.

I don't think that's too different... probably a bit more overt in the US, but that's about it.

Out here everyone just wants to do Krav Maga, BJJ, or MMA. Even I attend a local BJJ/MMA school myself.

So, if you've got the "modern" thing covered there, why do you think a different art needs to turn into another version of one of those?

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.

So... you want to "preserve Ninpo" by changing it? Does that sound like a contradictory statement to you?

Overly compliant uke.

Okay, you kinda go back and forth with things that you would want changed, and things you would have added... without clarifying any of it... but lets see how we go.

Overly compliant uke... well, that's not a facet of the art, it's a failing of the teachers not understanding the actual teaching structure of these arts... so, yeah, that shouldn't be there in the first place. In regards to "realistic", though, that's a different idea... you can have completely non-compliant uke, and it's nothing close to realistic... what's more important is understanding the roles, and working to a realism with regards to the context and aims of the methodology itself... it's not designed like BJJ, and shouldn't be looked at in the same way.

Enforcing more pressure testing.

This term gets thrown around without really understanding (or clarifying) what is meant by it... more often than not, it's seen as a term implying a sparring/rolling format... which can be a kind of pressure-testing, but you need to be very clear on, firstly, what's being tested, secondly what the aims of the test would be, and then, how the test is done. For example, in kata-geiko, "pressure testing" should always be present... even if the roles and actions are completely determined and defined.

Tests shouldn't be completely kata-based.

It's a kata-based art. It teaches via kata. Techniques and tactics are learnt by kata. Refinement of ma-ai, ri-ai, suki, tsuyoshi, and so on are achieved via kata. Thing is, of course, understanding how kata tests should be done... as it's not just a matter of "repeat the actions"...

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".

Okay.

Our curriculum is very different. There is randori/sparring required for literally every section in every rank.

How do you structure this randori? And how do you ascertain it's connection to the "ninpo" methods?

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.

While years aren't the be-all, end-all, ideally, they will give an idea of the amount of immersion and understanding the person will have, and have been exposed to. Traditionally speaking, it would give an indication how far through the school's teachings they've gone, but such things aren't really followed that way in most of the X-Kan's... Genbukan a little more than the others (hence your own ranking listing individual ranking levels in Daito Ryu, Kukishin Ryu, Mugen Shinto Ryu, separate to the Ninpo and Jujutsu ranks (and others)... of course, looking through them, you've basically (in this scale) gotten halfway through primary/elementary school in regards to the actual total curriculum... traditionally speaking, the upper levels are where you actually get to the "core" of the school, with the lower levels little more than basic introductions and preparations for the student to make sure they're ready for the actual lessons later on... that's why many schools only allowed fully licenced members to teach... they were the ones who understood what was important in the early levels, as they could see how they related to the later methods in a way that junior students simply didn't have the experience to.

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.

I don't allow anyone to head into free-form study until they're a senior kyu grade... before that, I'm risking reinforcing behaviours and patterns that run contrary to what I'm trying to teach. Of course, to each their own, and if you have found a way that works for you, great! Mind you... sparring with bokuto... yeah... not a fan of that... I can pretty much guarantee that if I was to do that, either someone is going to get hurt, or the approach would be so curtailed that it would be pointless...

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.

I'm not a fan of Rokas' videos either, although I wouldn't say that the issue is him painting all arts with his experience in Aikido, it's more the issue you're having, where you chose an art that doesn't match the image and ideals you have in your head, and have either not looked into it enough to understand the difference (definitely the case in Rokas' situation), or are so locked into the image and values you have that you aren't able to appreciate a different approach. This isn't a bad thing, of course, but we end up (again) with a fish trying to climb a tree...

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...

Well... firstly, I wouldn't say I study "Ninpo"... the term I use in the dojo for my school is "Budo Heiho", for the record (study of martial strategies is a good enough translation)... and my view is that, well, much of what is found is a combination of arts that have been created/re-constructed/substantially altered in the last 70 years or so (at least), so, no, "preservation" isn't the major factor... instead, I would say that I study the arts to gain insight from the concepts and principles enshrined within. It's the same reason I also study Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, Muso Shinden Ryu, Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, and Shindo Muso Ryu...

Here's the thing, though... I look at how the arts are designed, and expect them to be that... not anything else.

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).

What you're talking about there is cultural understanding of violence... and, if you're going to build a self defence system, an understanding of that (often referred to as an understanding of HAOV, or Habitual Acts Of Violence), as they pertain to your particular culture, is important. But learning a traditional system doesn't mean that you necessarily have to apply the system against such things... a traditional system does things the way it does for it's own (internal) reasons... which are often culturally based in the origins of the art itself. So, yes, people have shifted the way they express violence in the last, probably, 30 years or so... but that doesn't then follow that the older, or more traditional arts, have to follow suit... if they did, they're no longer the traditional art they were. That's the point.

I'm strictly referring to combatives. You can't always escape and walking away isn't always the best option.

Yeah... my point was that you talk about "ninjutsu techniques", but aren't actually referring to anything that would be classed as "ninjutsu"... as far as combative techniques (not, and this should be absolutely clear, "combatives", as that's another topic and area altogether) are concerned, well, in the X-Kan's you have a wide variety of methods from a range of schools to discuss... so it becomes a rather difficult thing to discuss... do the techniques of the various schools "work"? Yes. But you have to understand the context that they're designed for... Are they effective for modern violence? Maybe. It depends on a lot of factors...

How might I think?

In the sense of a physical altercation/violent sudden attack.

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.

Please.

I've already covered the fact that, well, these are not "born" in warfare... and that the idea of them "constantly adapting and modernising" is also complete bunkum (Hatsumi has said it for ages, but honestly, there's little to support that..). When it comes to "(evolving) seems to have stopped some time in the late 20th century", well, no... most arts stopped much in the way of contextual alteration within a few generations of their development... the main "evolution" that any art went through was in additions to the curriculum in order to either make teaching the inner methods more reliable and consistent, or to facilitate teaching larger numbers... but once you got to the end of the Edo period, and the Meiji Restoration, there was a big push-back against aspects of the samurai culture... so most arts that survived this period were pretty much locked into what they were... honestly, you're still rather romanticising a lot of this, and not overly accurately.

As far as what makes an art "traditional", well, that's simple... it is an art that is focused on working within a cultural context, and is set up with a set of traditions (ongoing practices for cultural reasons, largely). Koryu would be classed as classical, referring to a particular age, as well as a number of aspects relating to teaching methodologies and concepts.

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.

What exactly are you pointing out? You make the statement that "techniques that broke bones hundreds of years ago will break bones now", and I said that the technical aspect isn't the difference... it's in how cultural understandings and expressions of violence change over time and in different situation... for example, Western cultural violence has often been more geared towards striking and pugilistic methods, whereas Japanese cultural violence has either been weapons or grabbing/grappling, not striking... then you get into social situations, sense of social distancing, types of clothes worn, and more. And, frankly, I don't think you're aware of much of how that actually affects the expressions and applications of violence... so, no, "techniques that broke bones" isn't what makes a technique "work" or not.

Again, referring to one of my earlier responses, who is to say Ninpo has to remain koryu forever?

Leaving off that it's not koryu, albeit being based in some koryu and some koryu derived or related arts, the point is that if you change the art to the point where it has nothing left connecting it to what it was, then it's no longer the same art... if you want to study something different, go for it. If you want to create something new without any of the cultural information, training methodologies, focus on historical weaponry, and so forth, again, go for it... but don't think that it's the same thing, as it literally is not. That's the point. You change the thing into something else, it's no longer the thing in the first place. Oh, and considering "koryu" means "old school", referring to the age of the arts, then, well, yeah... once something is old enough to be considered "koryu", then it's kinda that way forever... that's how age works, after all...

Did it not constantly evolve over several centuries?

Nope.

This is a huge issue in the Ninpo community, this over-romanticization of Ninpo forever having to remain completely koryu.

Please. A bigger issue is the over-romanticisation of a false narrative, and a complete lack of understanding of the realities of the situation... combined with expectations that don't match reality (which, I have to say, are often fostered and supported by teachers in the various groups).

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.

I'm not disputing any of those issues, but that hasn't come across in any of your posts... you talk about the training and teaching methodology, the techniques, the application in a modern context... so... why the other organisational aspects should be read in your comments, I don't know...

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.

None of the arts you study are "born from battlefields". None of them. That's a deeply inaccurate romantic image you have. Next, what makes you think there's much in the way of "sparring/randori/rolling" in the training methods of these older schools? Especially when it comes to weapons, a number of schools would go so far as to forbid any kind of competition/duelling (even friendly)... some would emphasise it, of course, but honestly, they were in the minority, and were largely peace-time developments. Certain jujutsu schools would have some free-form training, typically for students of a mid-rank or higher... it would not be common to get it early in the training...

Honestly, I don't think I took you out of context... you stated that BJJ trains with rolling/sparring from the beginning, so students in such schools are more comfortable rolling than schools that don't... well, yeah. But you have to take into account their purpose... which is largely competitive.

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.

I'll be a bit blunt; to change the technical expression of the arts to conform to your desires/expectations, then you remove the very "flavour" that makes these arts what they are... in other words, yes, it's unrealistic to expect to be able to both dramatically change the way the arts are trained, taught, applied, and structured, but not expect them to change from being what they are. And, as I said, this idea isn't exactly rare... Stephen Hayes promoted the art the same way in the 80's and later... he still does today with his Toshindo approach... and, yes, you can certainly work on how they're trained, but you need to keep them to the same established methods, by and large, or, at least, within the construct of the arts themselves.

It's a matter, really, of choosing one of a few paths... you can make the most of your training in a traditional art by understanding the structure, and training it as authentically as you can... you can add a more modern "self defence" component to your training (this is the one chosen by my teacher, and continued by myself, for the record)... you can train in something else to "fill" that perceived gap... or you can stop entirely and do something that suits your views better. Any of those can work... but trying to force a square peg in a round hole isn't a great way to go about getting a good result... and, bluntly, with your few years of training and involvement, you're not in that much of a position to laugh at people who have have been doing it a lot longer, and understand the layout a lot better than you do.

As for Kyoshi Coleman, I saw those videos when they were posted and yes, I agree.

Good to know.
 

drop bear

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Yeah, with modern technology, striking is relatively safe, so you could incorporate it into sparring practice.

I do feel that the weapon training is better left to kata practice, or as an exercise to further practice unarmed skills. Aikido has the right approach IMO.

How come?

I would have said that like anything. Learning timing and strategy is very important to success. Which you don't get from kata.


Even a ludo sports approach would work. So they still try to maintain an adherence to a thematic ideal. But within that ideal they develop a measurable skill.

And look. Within that there will be a core basic principle that applies outside the fantasy.
 
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Chris Parker

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I don't want to put words in Mr. Parker's mouth, so I am sure he will correct me if I am interpreting this wrong.

In reference to historical context vs. modern: Yamabushii talked about training against a boxer's jabs and crosses. This is the whole point...ninjutsu would not have been designed or used against a toe to toe confrontation like that. It is a COMPLETLEY different mindset, not to mention different strategies and tactics. Ninjutsu techniques were designed for escape and evasion. It would have been designed and used if you did get seen/caught by the guards to get away as quickly as possible.

Sort of... yeah. The idea of even going against strikes would be kinda alien to Classical Japanese arts... most "striking" attacks actually represent (often short) bladed weapon attacks, or are designed to provide preparatory skills for learning methods against weapon attacks... which means that, not only is the distance and form of violence very different, but the distancing, observational concepts, social setttings, and more are all quite different. Personally, I wouldn't get too bogged down in the labelling of "ninjutsu"... you're right that anything related to actual ninjutsu would be more escape, evasion kinda thing... but much of what's taught in the X-Kan's is not anything really that related to ninjutsu or similar (most is more "samurai") that that becomes a minor point here. There's more, really, but look to my answer to Tony for some of that.

Look at a "streetfight" and what it typically looks like and then find some videos of a suspect just trying to get away from the police to escape and avoid being arrested. Talk to any LEO and they can verify that there is a big difference between a person struggling to try and get away and a person wanting to actively fight with you.

This is very true. Rarely does anything "in the street" resemble much like a competitive format (such as BJJ) other than in some superficial aspects... it's rarely symmetrical (which is what you get in competitive formats, by and large), nor is it a case of both participants being "willing"... the aims are different (predatory assault, escape, resource predation, social beatdowns, and so on)...

I see this as well in other arts. For example, if you look at older military combatives (Not talking about the newer stuff in the military based on GJJ/MMA that the military admits is used because they want the competition to develop a fighting spirit). It was designed to crush windpipes, gouge out eyes, use whatever you could find as an improvised weapon to kill and take out the enemy. How does that translate into civilian self-defense? It doesn't unless you completely change what it is and then still try and call it by the original name. If you have been around MA for awhile, there was a HUGE trend for awhile on "Reality Based Self-Defense" (RBSD) and they basically did take the old military combatives and teach those for civilian self-defense. BUT, they understood the disconnect, so they taught it as EVERY attacker is someone out to kill you and you are in fear for your life to justify using it.

RBSD, by and large, didn't actually operate in that fashion... some people took the name and applied to things like Krav Mags-like approaches (which came out of the very real violence of the Middle East) and older Combatives methods (which, themselves, came from a time where war meant you had a reasonable expectation of getting "up close and personal" with the enemy, so had a real application in mind)... but RBSD, as it was coined by Jim Wagner and employed by Geoff Thompson, Richard Dmitri, Deane Lawler, and others was more about understanding the nature of modern violence... something that, as Rory Miller puts it, happens faster, closer, more suddenly, and more aggressively than people realise (although he's talking about opportunity predation more than anything else there... resource predation often employs more intimidation tactics, for example), and being able to gear your training towards that... often, there was minimal "technique" involved... a teacher might have a preferred one or two technical things that they did, but it was far more about understanding how to handle sudden onslaughts... as well as understanding the social, legal, and psychological aspects and ramifications.

So, if you REALLY wanted to use Ninjutsu for self-defense and "modernize" it. Your classes would be on emotional intelligence (seeing things from another's perspective), how to read people and body language, de-escalation tactics, understanding set up tactics for a mugging and other scams. You would train them in how to be a "gray man" (term coined by preppers/survivalists) and blend in with your surroundings so you don't stand out. The physical stuff would be very similar to what the original techniques were in learning how to defeat holds, how to distract and/or stun your attacker and get away. Your classes would also teach how to run "smart" and use the environment to their advantage, where to run to get away, even how to safely hide if you got away and can't get back to your car/home right away.

That's RBSD... and not too far off from my own self defence sections in my school, for the record. Which is, to be absolutely clear, not the martial arts side of things.

It depends on your perspective. I am not going to say mine is the only correct one, but I certainly am not a hardcore traditionalist. I do appreciate the traditional aspects of the art very much so, but for me, practicing the art isn't for the sake of preservation, it's for practicality.

Then, honestly, you're in the wrong art.

But regarding utilizing boxers' jabs and crosses, you can say the same about the Jujutsu that's a part of most Ninpo schools as well. Why stand there and engage with someone when you can just throw some metsubushi and run away or hide?

Now, I'm just going to pull this part out to examine it here.... this is a good question. Why would you just stand there and engage with someone? Why would you not just throw metsubishi and run away? Or, more to the point, why would you throw metsubishi and run away? What is the real difference there? When you can answer this, then you will be starting to understand the way these arts work.

The idea behind teaching aspects of boxing is to incorporate realistic attacks from the uke, as well as utilizing shoulders rolls and bobbing and weaving to close the distance on someone to go for a takedown. You can't always escape. Sometimes you have to engage, and it's not usually as simple as grabbing someone.

Which is a completely different distancing, angling concept, footwork concept, body movement idea, attacking range, and more... making what you're doing not even close to related to the art you're purporting to be doing.

Chris and I may disagree on preservation vs practicality, but that's okay.

No, that's not the case... you're arguing that you want the art to be a different art for the sake of "practicality", and I'm saying, okay, then do a different art... or at least acknowledge that you're not doing the same one. I'm not saying anything in regards to "preservation"... I'm saying that a traditional art from another culture, representing violence from another time and place, is the wrong choice for a "modern, practical" application... if that's what you're after, great... but it means you train in something else.

A "massive modernization" would have to be something along the lines of Kano's modernization of Judo, where you reject the fluff and focus on maximizing the most effective techniques utilizing a modern methodology.

There's a lot to unpack here... the first would be to define "fluff"... what do you think Kano "rejected"?

Next would be recognising that the very model of "modern methodology" (especially as I described earlier) really started with Kano in the first place... and was based more in his work in the education department than anything to do with martial arts and "practicality"... his reasons were actually quite different to that.

This is a concept that I find rather interesting, and I would be very interested in seeing what would develop from it. And yes, I believe that Ninjutsu definitely needs it. As it stands, I feel the art is slowly fading into obscurity and dillution.

"Fading into obscurity"? "Dillution"? Er.... what? There's probably more practitioners now than there's ever been before... it's hardly "fading into obscurity"... and, really, you're arguing for dilution of the methodologies by arguing that they arts are being diluted? Huh?

I had hoped that Stephen Hayes would go that route with Toshindo, but that has largely been a bust.

Steve's good at the marketing, and has some good ideas, but implementation has been... lacking. Unfortunately, he fell into the trap of thinking he had the answers already, and just reworked what he already had, rather than exploring the area he wanted to move into thoroughly...

That said, I don't know what lane a modernized Ninjutsu could occupy.

Good question. Realistically, I'd say that Hatsumi wanted it to be like Aikido, but didn't have the teaching skills or (likely) disciplined focus to make it that... besides, Aikido didn't really become Aikido until Kisshomaru began giving it some structure... before that, it was Ueshiba-ryu, and Ueshiba-ryu only (as in it was him only). To make it a "modern combat" art, though, it would take it more towards Krav Maga... there's actually a fair bit of similarity when you get down to it, with some differences in teaching approaches and methodology, as well as contextual application... but the technical and tactical approaches are largely in sync with each other.

Currently you have four major martial arts that are descended from Jujutsu; Judo, Aikido, BJJ, and Sambo. If self defense and effectiveness is your goal, you should look at Judo and its descendant styles of BJJ and Sambo. If modernization with a strong traditional aesthetic is your gaol, Aikido would be a good model to look upon. I think following a mixed path that blends the effectiveness of the Judo-based systems and the traditional aesthetic of Aikido would be the best way to modernize the art. However, what would this system be like? Would it include striking? Would it only be throws? Would it contain kata? Would it provide some level of weapon training?

Well, the arts that make up the Takamatsuden (X-Kan) systems are all kata based... and include a fair amount of weapons and striking... so I'm not sure how you can remove them and claim it's even close to the same art... it's like taking punches out of boxing and still thinking it's boxing...

Here's the thing... not only are you not in a position to discuss what "changes" should happen, or what it should be like, what you're describing means we don't even have the same art anymore... we have something completely different. If that's what someone wants to do, hey, great... but it's not the same thing anymore at all. It's not a "modernised form" of Takamatsuden arts, it's a completely new and different art entirely. Potentially partially technically based, but even that would be a stretch once you've removed 80% of the art's methods.

These are all questions that would need to be answered. Obviously the main thing that would need to happen would be the community having a desire to modernize.

And understand what is meant by that. But, again, if people are training in a traditional art, they signed up to a traditional art (and dojo), with traditional methods and techniques, what makes you think they'd be overly interested in "modernizing"? Oh, and I get the immediate answer of "well, just look at this thread"... but, to be frank, I don't think Omar really wants to modernise in that sense... he just wants the art to be what he considers practical, and is looking at surface, superficial aspects (dominantly) regarding that... to do what is being proposed is to create a new martial art, not modernise an existing one.

I think Dog brothers or even a hema would be the modernisation of Ninjutsu.


Then you would be wrong. Quite badly, really... especially thinking of HEMA as a "modernisation" of anything... if anything, it's an attempt to go back in time...

Yeah, I know Akban is Ninjutsu/Bjj/hema.

I'd disagree with that... for one thing, there is no BJJ or HEMA in Akban at all... its basically Bujinkan with some Judo approaches and a healthy randori aspect... I don't agree with a number of their applications and conclusions, but that's a different discussion... I'm also not fond of their stealing other arts methods and passing off their lacking versions as something they actually teach...

I dunno, guess I was just thinking more along the lines of Judo and Aikido.

While there's some superficial similarities (more than in some of the other proposals), there's still a major separation between these approaches and those of the Takamatsuden arts.

The issue is that going down those kind of routes means removing key parts of techniques (eg striking in the case of judo and a whole load of other stuff in the case of Aikido)
Which is essentially the steps that their founders took
And by doing that you lose what makes the art distinct

Yep. And, in doing so, create a new art, not "modernise" an existing one.

Having said that I do think theres scope to add more realism in the training methods and to integrate obvious gaps like newaza. Is this modernisation? Maybe

It comes down to your reasons, really... I mean... why would you need to add ne-waza? Culturally, it doesn't match the arts... nor does it really match tactically... so why would you do it? The most common reason is that it becomes a perceived lack, mainly as you see all the other arts doing it, and get the impression that it's "needed"... while I do teach a limited amount of BJJ-derived ground work, it's all in the context of the self-defence portion of my classes... adding it to classical (or classically-structured) arts is, to my mind, rather redundant.

If you really wanted to modernise it then youd focus on using / dealing with weapons that are available nowadays (no more swords and spears etc). Which might be an interesting journey to go down
When do we replace the jutte with a beer bottle, or really study how to use an umbrella for example?

Ha, I wouldn't suggest replacing the jutte with a beer bottle, unless you want the students good at getting stitches (glassing someone is usually just as bad for the glasser as the glassee...), however a security baton, or flashlight, or rolled up magazine... that is a good option. And an exploration of the traditional methods utilising more modern weapons and attacks is good, really... a wholesale change of the art to that, on the other hand, is not the way to go about it. And, of course, you still run the risk of instructors not knowing enough to really do anything like these explorations in a realistic fashion...

Would it be possible to relegate striking to kata like Judo, and utilize weapons to expand unarmed concepts like Aikido does with the bokken and still retain the flavor/distinctiveness of the system?

90+% of what we do is kata... really, it should be over 95%... so where do you think our striking is? And, no, utilising weapons the way Aikido does is far from an answer... the reasons for the weapon training is exactly opposite, so is nothing like a workable comparison.

You could do striking like kudo. And probably even do padded weapons.

Again, I don't think you know how we train...

I think if you could actually sword fight or take a weapon off someone that would be a modern applicable skill

Rather than replace the sword with a beer bottle but not update the expectations of results.

Yeah... what exactly do you know of our kata, and what such an expectation of results (whatever that means) would be?
 

Chris Parker

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Yeah, with modern technology, striking is relatively safe, so you could incorporate it into sparring practice.

The more important thing to look at is the aim of the sparring, if it were to be integrated, then look at the methodology...

I do feel that the weapon training is better left to kata practice,

So do most koryu, but probably not the kata you're thinking...

or as an exercise to further practice unarmed skills. Aikido has the right approach IMO.

Er.... no. At least, not in respect to studying weapons.

How come?

I would have said that like anything. Learning timing and strategy is very important to success. Which you don't get from kata.

Er... that's precisely what you get from kata... as well as distancing...


Even a ludo sports approach would work. So they still try to maintain an adherence to a thematic ideal. But within that ideal they develop a measurable skill.

It helps when you start from fantasy... with regards to actual weapon use, kendo would have been a better example... and also shows the problem with thinking of kendo as swordsmanship...

And look. Within that there will be a core basic principle that applies outside the fantasy.

But not actual weapon usage (in a realistic fashion - here meaning with a realistic appreciation of how these weapons work, distancing, targeting, tactical methodologies, where you are or are not safe, and so on).
 

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There's a lot to unpack here... the first would be to define "fluff"... what do you think Kano "rejected"?

He removed the dangerous techniques and focused on techniques that could be practiced relatively safely. This increased the general skill level of his practitioners.


Next would be recognising that the very model of "modern methodology" (especially as I described earlier) really started with Kano in the first place... and was based more in his work in the education department than anything to do with martial arts and "practicality"... his reasons were actually quite different to that.

I would happily argue that Judo and it's descendant systems have done a very good job of proving their worth in the practicality department.

Ninjutsu on the other hand....

"Fading into obscurity"? "Dillution"? Er.... what? There's probably more practitioners now than there's ever been before... it's hardly "fading into obscurity"... and, really, you're arguing for dilution of the methodologies by arguing that they arts are being diluted? Huh?

I'm arguing for a refinement of the methodology in order to bring it into the modern era. As for Ninjutsu not fading into obscurity, we'll just have to agree to disagree.


90+% of what we do is kata... really, it should be over 95%...

Didn't Judo's success show that a high level of safe sparring and a minor emphasis on kata created more effective martial artists whom were far more capable of executing their techniques under duress?
 

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