what is the difference btw koryu training and X-kan training ?

dramonis

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Can someone with experience in both fields explain?
 

BrendanF

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Legend tells that if you say his name three times while looking in the mirror, Chris Parker will appear and answer your question.

He's certainly better placed to comment. I have been a member of a couple of koryu for some years, but have zero x-kan experience. I should also admit that, what I've seen I have not liked.

Big difference I've noticed is what seems to me to be a lack of cohesive riai.

It just feels weird, disjointed and lacking in consistent, underlying systematic approacho
 

gyoja

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Do you have to do it three times while staring into a mirror? 不
 

geezer

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yes, not just scream to the mirror but also wrote
Now you have to be patient ....it will take some time before Chris Parker apparates with a weighty tome which will answer your question authoritatively and in excruciating detail.

Warning: Those who have attempted to read his entire responses have been known to go insane ....or die of old age before completing the task. But none can complain regarding his accuracy. ;)
 

BrendanF

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Now you have to be patient ....it will take some time before Chris Parker apparates with a weighty tome which will answer your question authoritatively and in excruciating detail.

Warning: Those who have attempted to read his entire responses have been known to go insane ....or die of old age before completing the task. But none can complain regarding his accuracy. ;)

I was going to warn.. the louder the name is said, the lengthier the response.

Prepare for War and Peace.



And Chris - when are you coming back over? It appears the 40 degree days are over for now.
 

dunc

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There are some Japanese instructors in the Bujinkan who taught / teach the traditional schools in a pretty formal way. I would say this kinda overlaps with the less formal koryu teachers in Japan

However, the more general Bujinkan training that one sees in the west (& when one visits Japan for touristic training) is quite different to koryu. The emphasis is on adapting the techniques to the unique situation and there is a lot of scope for different executions of the same technique. The etiquette is extremely light, probably akin to a judo dojo in the west

I dont know much about the Genbukan, but I used to train with Manaka-sensei back in the day so probably the Jinenkan is more towards the more formal end of the x-kan spectrum

The average koryu is much stricter in the way they teach. A lot of emphasis is put on etiquette and the objective is to execute the forms precisely as the teacher showed with little to no freedom of expression

I would also say that most koryu are pretty much not accessible for a westerner, especially if you dont speak Japanese and live there

Chris and I disagree on quite a lot in this area so probably hell provide a different perspective. My perspective is based on training in the Bujinkan for 34 years, visiting Japan for training well over 40 times (particularly in the early days before the tourist rush kinda changed things) and having close relationships with Japanese and western martial artists living and training in various styles over there, including those who have qualifications in koryu
 

jks9199

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Koryu arts are a fairly narrow subset of very traditional Japanese martial arts with a lengthy and documented history. I'm not sure off the top of my head how long -- but we're generally talking more than a few hundred years, as I recall.

The x-kans refer to a range of martial arts that came from the teachings of Toshitsugu Takamatsu through Masaaki Hatsumi. The include a few "ninja" systems, as well as several other arts. After various splits and schisms from Hatsumis Bujinkan, several of his students have gone in their own direction, while still teaching from the same base set of skills.
 
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BrendanF

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The etiquette is extremely light, probably akin to a judo dojo in the west

The average koryu is much stricter in the way they teach. A lot of emphasis is put on etiquette and the objective is to execute the forms precisely as the teacher showed with little to no freedom of expression

In neither of the koryu I study has etiquette been of significant emphasis. Students are simply expected to observe and follow - that's the extent of it. There is a lot of laughter and swearing to be had. Much of it from me. Our Judo actually tends to be a little heavier on etiquette - certain types of expressions of etiquette are components of the art after all

While they are strict in the way they teach: "no, do it this way..", the objective is certainly not to execute forms precisely as teacher shows with little to no freedom of expression. The objective is to execute the principles underpinning the forms, precisely as shown. If this is exactly as the teacher showed, so be it. If not, likewise.

Koryu kata allow for a lot of examination - there is often a lot of variation, and history behind that variation. Just last week I was showing a training brother how I do a specific koshi no mawari kata, when I remembered 'oh, that's the way we used to do it, now it's like this... but the meaning I was taught is this"
 
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Bujingodai

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My experience was that A Koryu school was definitely more disciplined. Tighter to the curriculum and technique as it should be taught. X-Kan were more open to interpretation and ran quite differently from each other. Consistency from one dojo to the other is really varied. I do believe rank is a little harder to come by in a Koryu school. Just from my own experience.
 

dunc

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In neither of the koryu I study has etiquette been of significant emphasis. Students are simply expected to observe and follow - that's the extent of it. There is a lot of laughter and swearing to be had. Much of it from me. Our Judo actually tends to be a little heavier on etiquette - certain types of expressions of etiquette are components of the art after all

While they are strict in the way they teach: "no, do it this way..", the objective is certainly not to execute forms precisely as teacher shows with little to no freedom of expression. The objective is to execute the principles underpinning the forms, precisely as shown. If this is exactly as the teacher showed, so be it. If not, likewise.

Koryu kata allow for a lot of examination - there is often a lot of variation, and history behind that variation. Just last week I was showing a training brother how I do a specific koshi no mawari kata, when I remembered 'oh, that's the way we used to do it, now it's like this... but the meaning I was taught is this"
That sounds a lot like Bujinkan training so perhaps the overlap is greater than I implied in my post
 

punisher73

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If you want a quicker response from Mr. Parker, post something REALLY historically inaccurate that just begs to be corrected. Also, make sure that while posting your inaccuracies to present yourself as an expert in the topic.

I have been told on good authority and have read all of Mr. Cummins Ninja books that actually, the X-Kan training came first and set the bar for what would later be the "koryu" arts. The koryu arts are actually made up things to look more historically accurate....


Ok, that should do it. Mr. Parker should be here very shortly to respond with the actual histories.
 

Chris Parker

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Godsdammit........................

Can someone with experience in both fields explain?

Yeah.......

Legend tells that if you say his name three times while looking in the mirror, Chris Parker will appear and answer your question.

Hey, Brendan... you know better than to just give out the rules for the Rite of AshkEnte... ha!

He's certainly better placed to comment. I have been a member of a couple of koryu for some years, but have zero x-kan experience. I should also admit that, what I've seen I have not liked.

Certainly understandable... most of what I see I like less and less as well...

Big difference I've noticed is what seems to me to be a lack of cohesive riai.

It just feels weird, disjointed and lacking in consistent, underlying systematic approach

Agreed, with a caveat that it's more that there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of what that even is in the first place...


Dude, I was sleeping...

I was actually going to do the three name thing upon seeing the thread, but waited to see if someone else would first 不

So, you're all ganging up on me, eh? I blame Brendan...

Do you have to do it three times while staring into a mirror? 不

Well, we might as well give the entire rite, yeah? Yes, it needs to be in a mirror. No, you don't have to say it backwards. Yes, writing it down makes it more powerful. No, you don't have to make a blood sacrifice. I also accept pictures of nice guitars.

Now you have to be patient ....it will take some time before Chris Parker apparates with a weighty tome which will answer your question authoritatively and in excruciating detail.

Warning: Those who have attempted to read his entire responses have been known to go insane ....or die of old age before completing the task. But none can complain regarding his accuracy. ;)

Hey, that's.... probably pretty fair, actually...

I was going to warn.. the louder the name is said, the lengthier the response.

Prepare for War and Peace.



And Chris - when are you coming back over? It appears the 40 degree days are over for now.

Trying to arrange it, mate... a few financial hiccups, but working on it!

That said, let's get into things a bit more seriously...

There are some Japanese instructors in the Bujinkan who taught / teach the traditional schools in a pretty formal way. I would say this kinda overlaps with the less formal koryu teachers in Japan

I'm going to say something here that you're going to disagree with, Dunc, but the simple fact of the matter is that I don't think you're in a position to even know what you're talking about here (yeah, I get how that sounds). No, there aren't. None of them know the arts in a koryu sense. None of them have trained in them in a koryu sense. None of them have been taught them in a koryu sense. Regardless of the licences or appointments as "soke", as that's honestly nothing more than paper titles with no backup whatsoever.

So, no, there are no instructors in the Bujinkan who are able to teach the traditional schools in a genuine sense. Despite the largely uneducated beliefs of many in the Bujinkan, that is simply the reality. They can teach the kata from the ryu in the form of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, but that is devoid of the aspects of the school in the first place. It may be highly technical, formal, or anything else, but mistaking that for the same thing is to be deeply ignorant of the way a school is organised and transmitted.

I would also ask what experience you have with koryu teachers to make a claim of overlap.

However, the more general Bujinkan training that one sees in the west (& when one visits Japan for touristic training) is quite different to koryu. The emphasis is on adapting the techniques to the unique situation and there is a lot of scope for different executions of the same technique. The etiquette is extremely light, probably akin to a judo dojo in the west

(Just because this is me, and this is kind of a bug-bear for me, the term for a judo training location isn't a judo dojo, it's a judojo... dojo meanining "place of the way", judo meaning "gentle way", a judojo is a "place for [studying] the way of gentleness", rather than a judo dojo being a "place for studying the way of the way of gentleness", which is just redundant... okay, back to the fun).

Hmm, that's an interesting way to look at it, and something I would categorise as a rather generous view... as well as being rather different to what I would consider the difference with koryu... but we'll get there. Same with the etiquette (although I will say I was rather horrified by the reiho I saw at hombu for the Bujinkan, until I realised just how it was seen and applied...).

I dont know much about the Genbukan, but I used to train with Manaka-sensei back in the day so probably the Jinenkan is more towards the more formal end of the x-kan spectrum

That's okay, I do. Oh, and there is a recent interview with Manaka-sensei you may want to read based on the above comments I've made... but, for formality, the spectrum is the Bujinkan at one end (highly informal and lax) to the Genbukan (highly restrictive and formal), with the Jinenkan in the middle.

The average koryu is much stricter in the way they teach.

Are they?

A lot of emphasis is put on etiquette and the objective is to execute the forms precisely as the teacher showed with little to no freedom of expression

Hmm, don't think I agree with that...

I would also say that most koryu are pretty much not accessible for a westerner, especially if you dont speak Japanese and live there

Well, I teach and train in 4 separate koryu, and have done the bulk of my study in the West (Australia), with some study in Japan, so, again, not sure that's the case. Back in the 70's? Absolutely (although the Japanese language ability would aid, but wasn't an absolute requirement unless a particular teacher had it). The 90's? Most likely. Today? Not so much. The biggest issue with accessibility is simple proximity... if you want to study Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu in Australia, you need to be in Melbourne, or be able to travel... in Europe, you have many more opportunities, same in Canada... in Japan, there are a few areas, but you'd want to be in Kitakyushu ideally. For Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, Sugino-dojo, you have Perth, with Melbourne as a study group... there are also a couple of other groups in Sydney and Brisbane, but that's it. Shindo Muso Ryu is in most capital cities, and Muso Shinden Ryu is also relatively wide-spread. Outside of my schools, Australia also hosts shibu and dojo for Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha, Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu (Edo line), Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, Oishi Shinkage Ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Tamiya Ryu, Sosuishi Ryu, Hoki Ryu, Shingetsu Muso Yanagi Ryu, Hontai Yoshin Ryu, Tenshin Buko Ryu, Tatsumi Ryu, and koryu-like arts such as Meifu Shinkage Ryu and Daito Ryu... so, not accessible? Depends where you are, I suppose... Australia is still a relatively small community...

Chris and I disagree on quite a lot in this area so probably hell provide a different perspective. My perspective is based on training in the Bujinkan for 34 years, visiting Japan for training well over 40 times (particularly in the early days before the tourist rush kinda changed things) and having close relationships with Japanese and western martial artists living and training in various styles over there, including those who have qualifications in koryu

We do... and my perspective is based on over 30 years in the Takamatsuden, with that time being spent both inside and outside the Bujinkan system, having friendships and relationships with senior members of all three major X-Kan organisations, and having studied a range of koryu for the past 15 years or so in addition to my Takamatsuden studies. In addition, it's based on not being tied to a company line, or simply going along with anything that's claimed without basis.

Koryu arts are a fairly narrow subset of very traditional Japanese martial arts with a lengthy and documented history. I'm not sure off the top of my head how long -- but we're generally talking more than a few hundred years, as I recall.

Koryu typically refers to a tradition (in this case, martial, although there are also koryu forms of ikebana [flower arranging], sado [tea ceremony], kabuki [theatre], and so on) that is a continual tradition with an origin pre-dating the Meiji Restoration of around 1868 (some use 1873 with the Hattorei edict as a hard-line) when the samurai class was abolished and power returned to the Emperor Meiji, with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Some, however, further differentiate into arts developed during the time of political and military turmoil known as the Sengoku Jidai (Period of Warring States) that ended in 1600 with the Battle of Sekigahara. But most go with the Meiji Restoration, so the youngest a koryu can be is about 160 years old.

The x-kans refer to a range of martial arts that came from the teachings of Toshitsugu Takamatsu through Masaaki Hatsumi. The include a few "ninja" systems, as well as several other arts. After various splits and schisms from Hatsumis Bujinkan, several of his students have gone in their own direction, while still teaching from the same base set of skills.

Very very close... what you've described are the Takamatsuden (literally: transmission from Takamatsu). The X-Kan's specifically refer to the "big 3", the Bujinkan, Genbukan, and Jinenkan, as they all end in the term "kan". Outside of them, but still in the family of Takamatsuden, are Stephen Hayes' Toshindo, Brian McCarthy's BBD, Roy Ron's Shisenkan, and my own Jukuren Dojo, with many other one-offs dotted around the world.

In neither of the koryu I study has etiquette been of significant emphasis. Students are simply expected to observe and follow - that's the extent of it. There is a lot of laughter and swearing to be had. Much of it from me. Our Judo actually tends to be a little heavier on etiquette - certain types of expressions of etiquette are components of the art after all

While I don't disagree with your observation, I think it might be a little more about overt versus implied importance. Typically, we Westerners tend to look for larger "shows" or displays to indicate "etiquette", especially as aspects such as bowing, paying respects to a kamidana (shrine), and so on are largely alien from our daily life (whereas they are relatively commonplace in daily Japanese life), so they tend to stand out. When it comes to koryu, as they are so steeped in the Japanese culture, a big show is unnecessary... there will typically be some specialised form of bow or similar, but that's typically about it. It's done simply as a part of what you're doing, but isn't given any major highlight over the rest of the school's methods... it's just a part of the way to be in the dojo.

The bigger emphasis on displays and shows of etiquette tend to be in the more modern arts, mostly an outcropping of the events and Japanese mentality around WWII, where the idea of martial arts and military duty (a subversion of the bushido ideals, themselves being largely invented in the 20th Century), where such displays became a way to demonstrate patriotism and further the indoctrination of the youth. This led many martial arts (Judo, Karate, Aikido etc) to adopt an almost para-military style training paradigm, with drill-instructor style teachers barking orders, students moving in unison in a line, a lot of "HAI, SENSEI!!!" Cobra-Kai responses which have since become what people think of as "traditional training"... which is quite different from the training atmosphere found in most actual traditional schools.

What it comes down to, I feel, is that a koryu will expect you to conform to the culture of the dojo... as you said, observe and follow... whereas many modern arts will expect to dictate to you to get you to conform to the image.

While they are strict in the way they teach: "no, do it this way..", the objective is certainly not to execute forms precisely as teacher shows with little to no freedom of expression. The objective is to execute the principles underpinning the forms, precisely as shown. If this is exactly as the teacher showed, so be it. If not, likewise.

Absolutely. In our first leaders meeting with Kajiya-soke for Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, one of the first things he asked was for us to go through how we perform Sassen, the first kata in the school. The idea wasn't for us to be uniform, or to correct what was "wrong", it was to see how we all expressed the first, fundamental waza, and, while we were all different, it was always Sassen. And no-one was corrected, despite the differences.

Koryu kata allow for a lot of examination - there is often a lot of variation, and history behind that variation. Just last week I was showing a training brother how I do a specific koshi no mawari kata, when I remembered 'oh, that's the way we used to do it, now it's like this... but the meaning I was taught is this"

Sometimes I think one of the challenges in being in koryu more long-term is being able to simultaneously drop old versions of something while also retaining them as references... the way we perform the HNIR Seiho now under Kajiya-soke are, in many ways, very different to how I was first shown them when we were led by Iwami--soke... which is different to the way Imai-soke taught them... but, in all cases, the Seiho are the same, just the expression of them has varied. So, we keep the old ones as references, while not hanging onto them as practices, as they can help inform certain aspects of the waza as now done... it's the same with my MSR study, or the small and large changes in TSKSR, or the variations in the multiple groups of SMR around. The core of them is the same, even when the expression changes... even in regards to the application (Ryuto in the Omori Ryu/Shoden section of MSR, for example, some teachers teach it as an interception of an attack, others as a complete evasive action... but it's still the same waza).

My experience was that A Koryu school was definitely more disciplined. Tighter to the curriculum and technique as it should be taught. X-Kan were more open to interpretation and ran quite differently from each other. Consistency from one dojo to the other is really varied. I do believe rank is a little harder to come by in a Koryu school. Just from my own experience.

Which koryu did you have experience of, Dave? This isn't to deny your experience or question it, but, as with most things, the particular koryu in question will shape how you see such things... we don't use rank in HNIR these days, rank in MSR is often linked with ZNKR Iaido (not with me, for the record... the line I learnt didn't apply them, as it relied upon the ZNKR ranking, but I don't train in ZNKR Iaido, so I've developed an in-house ranking for us)... some SMR groups use a modern Dan ranking, others use the traditional Menkyo, some do a combination... different schools will be easier or harder to rank in, or may not offer it at all.

I also think it's important to state if you're meaning only Bujinkan schools when you say X-Kan, or if you're including the other two big Kan organisations (both of which will be noticeably more consistent than the Bujinkan).

That sounds a lot like Bujinkan training so perhaps the overlap is greater than I implied in my post

I can see how you may think that, but, honestly, no, it's not. We'll cover that in a bit.

If you want a quicker response from Mr. Parker, post something REALLY historically inaccurate that just begs to be corrected. Also, make sure that while posting your inaccuracies to present yourself as an expert in the topic.

Dude... no fair...

I have been told on good authority and have read all of Mr. Cummins Ninja books that actually, the X-Kan training came first and set the bar for what would later be the "koryu" arts. The koryu arts are actually made up things to look more historically accurate....

Just for those newer to this area, or unaware of just how egregious that Punisher is aiming to be here, Antony Cummins is one of the worst sources you could look to for anything other than being a rather shameless self-promoter with no credentials or knowledge in the field. That said...

Ok, that should do it. Mr. Parker should be here very shortly to respond with the actual histories.

... you weren't that far off. There's a real argument to be made that the majority of what we class as koryu are largely reconstructions and revitalised lines of older arts, and aren't really as old as they are made out to be (not all, of course, and it may be more just sections of certain arts, but, yeah, "made up things to look more historically accurate" isn't as inaccurate as you may think...).

Okay... now to the original question...

What is the difference between koryu training and x-kan training? Well, I think it's pretty clear by now that that depends entirely on which of the various Kan's (and very much which dojo if the Bujinkan), and which koryu you're actually talking about. We'll start with the various Kan groups.

As JKS said, these are various groups teaching what are known as the Takamatsuden traditions. While there are any number of off-shoots (myself included), the "big 3" are typically what is meant. The first of these is the Bujinkan, with the Genbukan being founded in 1984, and the Jinenkan a bit over a decade later in 1996. Both of these groups were founded by the two earliest students of Hatsumi Masaaki (Yoshiaki), Tanemura Shoto (Tsunehisa) and Manaka Unsui (Fumio) respectively. The Bujinkan teaches Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, which is Hatsumi's creation based on the material he received from his teacher, Takamatsu Toshitsugu (Chosui), in which he was awarded the soke-ship of some 9 martial systems; Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu, Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu, Kukishinden Happo Biken, Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo, Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo, and Gikan Ryu Koppotaijutsu. The Jinenkan teaches 6 of these (Togakure Ryu, Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu, and Kukishinden), along with a 7th school that Manaka-sensei created to cover what he felt were gaps in the weaponry study, the Jinen Ryu (covering Nito, Iai, Tanto, and Jutte). The Genbukan number of schools has fluctuated, but is typically counted somewhere around 27, with some being variations of others (a range of Kukishin related arts, for example), some that are outside the Bujinkan (Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu, Bokuden Ryu, although these were studied by Hatsumi prior to his time with Takamatsu via another teacher named Ueno), and some that Tanemura has added from outside anything related to Takamatsu, such as a line of Daito Ryu, Mugen Shinto Ryu Iai, Chugoku (Chinese) Kempo, and Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu.

The Jinenkan refer to their overall syllabus as Jissen Kobudo (Ancient Martial Arts For Real Fighting), and employ a kyu/Dan grading system, with an emphasis on strong basics and fundamentals. The schools themselves are considered to be a way to embark on a deeper study of the art, with an attempt to keep them separate and distinct. The Genbukan have a range of subdivisions in their syllabus, with Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu covering the "ninja related" schools (Togakure, Gyokko, Koto, and others), and the Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei (International Jujutsu Federation) covering the more "samurai" arts (Takagi, Shinden Fudo, Kukishin, Bokuden, Asayama, Yagyu Shingan, and so on), as well as Chugoku Kempo covering a couple of Chinese martial arts. Ranking is separate in each subdivision, and members can also rank separately again in individual ryu-ha and weaponry areas, meaning a particular teacher may be a 6th Dan in Ninpo Taijutsu, 5th Dan in KJJR, 2nd Dan in Chugoku Kempo, Shoden Menkyo in Gyokko Ryu, Chuden Menkyo in Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, 2nd Kyu in Bikenjutsu, 1st Dan in Bojutsu, and so on. Typically, the Ninpo Taijutsu rank, as the first achieved, is used to signify the overall ranking in the organisation.

A koryu, on the other hand, is simply a classical school of Japanese martial arts. While some dojo may house a few arts, or some arts may assimilate a few more minor arts over time, the emphasis in a koryu is to maintain the school in as pure a fashion as is possible, so the idea of housing many different arts in one spot, with one person, can be incredibly difficult without there being some kind of bleed-through from one art ot the next, robbing them of the essential character that makes the art what it is. When multiple arts are housed at once, they are typically rather distinct from each other to help in this separation, such as Ono-ha Itto Ryu being housed alongside Shinmuso Hayashizaki Ryu Battojutsu, and Chokugen Ryu O Naginatajutsu. These three arts don't conflict with each other, so don't lead to cross-contamination. Likewise, Shindo Muso Ryu Jo has a number of fuzoku ryu-ha (assimilated arts) that were largely developed by heads of the school over the years that have become adjunct studies, with Isshin Ryu Kusarigama, Ittatsu Ryu Hojo, and Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu coming from the first couple of generations, Ikkaku Ryu Jutte not long after, and Uchida Ryu Tanjo being developed by a Menkyo Kaiden practitioner in the late 19th Century.

The reason for this is simple. A koryu seeks to shape and structure it's members in a very particular fashion, both physically and mentally. The aim is to create someone who is a physical embodiment/manifestation of the school itself, someone who thinks the way the school expects, acts the way the school defines, and is physically structured in a way that suits the ryu. So, imagine what it's like when one school says you should always attack, and one says you should always wait for an attack... or one says you need strong legs, but the other says that's not important, you need flexible hips... it can, at best, be highly confusing for someone aiming to have so many conflicting ideals going at once!

When you look at the various X-Kan approaches, despite their apparent differences in methodology, the morphology is largely consistent, albeit more strictly observed in some than others (but that's more due to the teachers at the head and their preference). Even though the arts come from a range of different schools, the essential body structure, sense of engagement, mentality, and so on are the same, with minimal variation to distinguish the origin of a particular technical construct and concept, rather than anything much deeper than that. In other words, a Bujinkan student is always going to be doing Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, regardless of the ryu being looked at or the kata's origin; a Genbukan practitioner is always going to be doing Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu no matter the school being studied or the subdivision; a Jinenkan member is going to be performing in a way that is Jinenkan Jissen Kobudo, no matter what the method in class that day is. Most differences become largely superficial... with the Jinenkan preferring very low, squatting stances, and strong blocking actions, emphasising the conditioning that Manaka feels is important, the Genbukan preferring extended stances and overt shows of zanshin, emphasising what Tanemura thinks are traditional martial values, and the Bujinkan tends to prefer more mobile, upright positioning, with an emphasis on flow and feel, and a de-emphasis on what are often considered "trappings", such as zanshin, reiho, and so on, emphasising Hatsumi's personal values of creativity and lack of interest in the outer aspects of the art. In a very real way, the Bujinkan is something I would describe as a pseudo-traditional, quasi-Japanese martial art, as it eschews pretty much everything that would identify it as either traditional or Japanese. It's one of the most Western "Japanese" arts I can think of.

And here's where we get a little controversial... a koryu will seek to pass on the ryu to the students in the best way it can see. That means long hours of repetition and refinement of the same kata over and over again, with more and more aspects coming to the fore the more you practice. There may be specific drills or exercises associated, but the core in the majority of cases will be kata geiko (kata practice). Some may also include some form of free-form study, but as that introduces a random aspect where the lessons of the school can be corrupted, it's not a high emphasis. The importance for a koryu, though, is the koryu itself. It doesn't matter so much what it does for you, it matters that it is protected and cared for. This is not the case for the X-Kan's (although Manaka is at least aiming for it, he is somewhat crippled by the manner in which he was trained in the first place), where the emphasis is far more Western, with the idea being that the arts are there to serve the needs of the student. But the core of the koryu study is the correct passing on of the school to the next generation, in order to keep it alive. In order for that to happen, of course, the schools need to have been transmitted/taught in the first place... and I don't think they were.

Despite Dunc's claim earlier of there being Japanese teachers who "taught/teach the traditional schools in a pretty formal manner", they are still just teaching (in the Bujinkan's case) Budo Taijutsu in a "pretty formal manner", albeit by attempting to follow the written material of one school or another. That is not the same thing as actually teaching the ryu, or being anywhere near close to a koryu study. While it may be highly detailed, and refined, and precise, and to the teachers' best understanding and knowledge, it is still, at the end of the day, Budo Taijutsu with a particular emphasis or focus. Now, the standard response is "well, you have to develop a relationship with a particular teacher, and, if they like you, and you're one of the lucky ones, and they have the goods, then they maybe will teach you the 'real' stuff, maybe... and, unless you've been in each dojo for every minute of every day and seen every teacher and student, you can't know it doesn't happen, cause some of these teachers have the actual licences and stuff!". Sadly, I can know, and that's just the end of it. In fact, if you look at all the actual evidence, it's pretty self apparent. Are there teachers with the licences and rank in individual schools? Yes. Does that matter? Simply put, no, as those licences mean exactly nothing when it comes to the way these organisations work.

Keeping with the Bujinkan here, as it's the parent organisation of the other two (the Genbukan is it's own case, but we'll see if we get there), the story is that Hatsumi learnt from Ueno Takashi, gaining Menkyo Kaiden in Asayama Ichiden Ryu, learning Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu (Jutaijutsu in the Bujinkan, although not officially taught there), Bokuden Ryu, all over the course of about 3 years. He then left Ueno, and began studying under Takamatsu (the manner in which he left is still somewhat up in the air... Hatsumi says that he was told to seek out Takamatsu by Ueno, Ueno's side says he went there behind Ueno's back, and as a result, all his licencing under Ueno was considered hamon/expunged, Hatsumi says that he considers everything prior to Takamatsu being meaningless...) from around 1958. He trained with Takamatsu, taking long train rides every weekend, over the course of 15 years, up to Takamatsu's death, taking over the mantle of soke of the 9 traditions, and founding the Bujinkan as a way to transmit them. This is the common story in the Bujinkan, and taken as a statement of fact, proving that Hatsumi was taught the intricacies of these schools from the ground up. There are, however, a few problems.

Firstly, it was hardly every weekend. For at least the first few years, it was every few months at best. That's actually fine, and sounds far more reasonable... after all, he had a lot already under his belt to work with, and his training group (initially a group for the Ueno-den arts became a Takamatsu-den study group) could get on with the material they had. For the record, Hatsumi's first ranking from Takamatsu was the Sokeship of Togakure Ryu and Menkyo Kaiden in Gyokko Ryu in 1960 (Gyokko licencing coming about 6 months after the Togakure Ryu one), within 2 years of his starting training with Takamatsu. His training to complete the rest of the schools was the next 8 years, not 13, as he stated that the amount of time it takes to learn the art is "10 years... the same amount of time Hatsumi trained with Takamatsu" (Ninja: The Invisible Assassins - Adams). So, we've reduced the amount of years by a third, the frequency of trips to about a tenth... and in this highly reduced time, we are to believe that Hatsumi studied, progressed, and ranked in another 7 schools, some of which are huge and complex (Kukishin and Takagi)? Simply put, it's not possible. It is simply not possible to train to mastery all the different nuances and aspects of 9 disparate and distinct schools in such a short time. So what likely happened? Likely, Hatsumi studied with Takamatsu a range of methods of moving and applying various grappling and striking actions, starting ostensibly with Togakure Ryu and Gyokko Ryu, then would train in a number of other parts of the other ryu-ha in a more rudimentary "this strike, then this block, then this attack" manner, rather than taking the time to learn how this particular art strikes in the first place, instead using the mechanics that he was already familiar with (Togakure and Gyokko) to fill in the gaps there. It's also likely that the majority of material he received regarding the technical lists/kata of the schools was in paper-only form, as Takamatsu was known to send such things as a way of disseminating information (Ueno received a few things from him in this way, for example). In other words, it's most likely that Hatsumi never actually learnt the schools as distinct schools... just got a list of the kata, and was left to come up with what he thinks the kata were meant to be like (leading me to say that a lot of the way the kata are done in the Bujinkan and related arts are, bluntly, incorrect, at least from the perspective of the ryu themselves).

So, we have someone who never genuinely learnt the schools, but was given leadership of them. Or was he? Let's look at what Takamatsu was actually authorised to do... despite the idea that Hatsumi became soke of 9 traditions (interesting fact, he was only stating he was soke of 8 until a few years after Takamatsu's death... then the 9th, Gyokushin, mysteriously appeared... add to that the Gikan Ryu controversy, with it only being a small addition on his Koto Ryu transmission scroll, Kumogakure Ryu being practically non-existant, the fact that these three schools make no appearance in the public Bujinkan methods, are not found in the Jinenkan headed by Hatsumi's earliest student, nor in the Genbukan with the exception of Gikan coming from Sato Kinbei, and were not mentioned in Adams' book, and some major questions can be asked), there's a good argument to be made that he was not able to be named as such, particularly in regards to the Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishinden arts, as Takamatsu was considered a Shihan, not Soke of these arts in the first place... but that's another aside. Anyway, we have someone who is ostensibly teaching these schools, but likely never really learnt them fully in the first place, certainly not in a progressive manner as is typical of koryu, who would then licence his students in them (starting with Manaka and Tanemura being given Menkyo Kaiden in Togakure and Gyokko almost as soon as Hatsumi received his own licencing in them), before later switching to the Dan ranking. In the early 80's, Hatsumi went through a period of intense illness, and thought it possible he may die, so had his senior students copy the scrolls, giving them the licences associated without actually taking them through any form of actual progression, in order to keep the schools going in a fashion, albeit without the actual training to accompany it. After he recovered, Hatsumi seems to have gone even further from the idea of promoting the schools or transmitting them, feeling that getting his personal approach to martial arts, what would become Budo Taijutsu, was of greater importance to him (and, to be clear, that is absolutely his right to do so). It wouldn't be until the late 90's after Manaka had left to form the Jinenkan, and was focusing on the different schools individually that Hatsumi saw the appeal that had, so began having yearly themes on individual schools (while still applying them in a Budo Taijutsu fashion, with no restriction on the methods, mechanics, mentality, or other of the school in question). For the record, in a recent interview, Manaka-sensei was quite explicit that such ryu-ha focused study was never an aspect of studying under Hatsumi... in fact, a big part of why he left to form the Jinenkan was that you never knew if what you saw Hatsumi do was actually part of the school or not, or accurate, or just him riffing on an idea at the time, and Manaka wanted to help preserve as best he could. This, of course, absolutely contradicts what many of the Bujinkan faithful claim is the case of Hatsumi teaching the seniors in a formal progression through the ryu, licencing them accordingly, and that's why you can get certain teachers to take you through the schools. He didn't, they can't, and any argument against that is simply ignorant of the history, the way schools are taught, what makes something a distinct school, and reality.

What this leaves us with is a few organisations that are really their own martial art (Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu, Jinenkan Jissen Kobudo), who take from a foundation of the technical material of a range of disparate arts (some of which with rather questionable origins, but that's for another time), and apply the values of their head teachers in lieu of having the actual schools themselves in anything other than names in a list. None of that makes them a bad choice (in fact, trying to have each school separate and independent of the others is an exhausting concept, one that I'm attempting to do, but I still use the Bujinkan Ten Chi Jin as a foundation... I just don't class it as a martial art... more a pre-martial art... which is also historically valid, for the record), as it maintains consistency within the organisation (for all it's lack of consistency issues, the Bujinkan's very inconsistent approach leads to a consistency of it's own kind), allowing for a way to measure development. If you were genuinely to go the other way, then your ranking would begin again with each school... it'd be like walking into a BJJ gym with your TKD black belt, and thinking they're the same thing, or vice versa. You start a new art? You start again. We also end with a bunch of groups that are lacking in inherent character that comes with the ryu-ha, so they tend to cater more to image than anything else, leading to exaggeration in some areas (overly formal and strict applications of authority and rank within the Genbukan, big shows of bowing and etiquette in the same, a reliance on deep, low stances designed for conditioning even up to high rank, as that makes the training physically more demanding, and therefore more "traditional" in the Jinenkan, playing into the who ultra-wise, unfailing mystical Asian master in Hatsumi for the Bujinkan... and don't get me started on the amount of stuff he's done that gets a complete green light from his students, even when you get them to admit it's bad, they find an excuse...), or a lack of awareness, and things put in for the sake of matching the image (the opening reiho to the classes at the Bujinkan hombu horrified me, as said, as it was so perfunctory and rushed that all reason and meaning was non-existant). Now, these may suit you perfectly... but remember, they are not, in any way, even really related to koryu study. They ape some aspects, but have no connection at all.

At the end of the day, though, what will be most important is the reason for your question... are you looking for your own study? If so, what is nearby to you? Do you have any koryu within distance? Or are you just curious?
 

_Simon_

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Godsdammit........................



Yeah.......



Hey, Brendan... you know better than to just give out the rules for the Rite of AshkEnte... ha!



Certainly understandable... most of what I see I like less and less as well...



Agreed, with a caveat that it's more that there is a lack of understanding and appreciation of what that even is in the first place...



Dude, I was sleeping...



So, you're all ganging up on me, eh? I blame Brendan...



Well, we might as well give the entire rite, yeah? Yes, it needs to be in a mirror. No, you don't have to say it backwards. Yes, writing it down makes it more powerful. No, you don't have to make a blood sacrifice. I also accept pictures of nice guitars.



Hey, that's.... probably pretty fair, actually...



Trying to arrange it, mate... a few financial hiccups, but working on it!

That said, let's get into things a bit more seriously...



I'm going to say something here that you're going to disagree with, Dunc, but the simple fact of the matter is that I don't think you're in a position to even know what you're talking about here (yeah, I get how that sounds). No, there aren't. None of them know the arts in a koryu sense. None of them have trained in them in a koryu sense. None of them have been taught them in a koryu sense. Regardless of the licences or appointments as "soke", as that's honestly nothing more than paper titles with no backup whatsoever.

So, no, there are no instructors in the Bujinkan who are able to teach the traditional schools in a genuine sense. Despite the largely uneducated beliefs of many in the Bujinkan, that is simply the reality. They can teach the kata from the ryu in the form of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, but that is devoid of the aspects of the school in the first place. It may be highly technical, formal, or anything else, but mistaking that for the same thing is to be deeply ignorant of the way a school is organised and transmitted.

I would also ask what experience you have with koryu teachers to make a claim of overlap.



(Just because this is me, and this is kind of a bug-bear for me, the term for a judo training location isn't a judo dojo, it's a judojo... dojo meanining "place of the way", judo meaning "gentle way", a judojo is a "place for [studying] the way of gentleness", rather than a judo dojo being a "place for studying the way of the way of gentleness", which is just redundant... okay, back to the fun).

Hmm, that's an interesting way to look at it, and something I would categorise as a rather generous view... as well as being rather different to what I would consider the difference with koryu... but we'll get there. Same with the etiquette (although I will say I was rather horrified by the reiho I saw at hombu for the Bujinkan, until I realised just how it was seen and applied...).



That's okay, I do. Oh, and there is a recent interview with Manaka-sensei you may want to read based on the above comments I've made... but, for formality, the spectrum is the Bujinkan at one end (highly informal and lax) to the Genbukan (highly restrictive and formal), with the Jinenkan in the middle.



Are they?



Hmm, don't think I agree with that...



Well, I teach and train in 4 separate koryu, and have done the bulk of my study in the West (Australia), with some study in Japan, so, again, not sure that's the case. Back in the 70's? Absolutely (although the Japanese language ability would aid, but wasn't an absolute requirement unless a particular teacher had it). The 90's? Most likely. Today? Not so much. The biggest issue with accessibility is simple proximity... if you want to study Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu in Australia, you need to be in Melbourne, or be able to travel... in Europe, you have many more opportunities, same in Canada... in Japan, there are a few areas, but you'd want to be in Kitakyushu ideally. For Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu, Sugino-dojo, you have Perth, with Melbourne as a study group... there are also a couple of other groups in Sydney and Brisbane, but that's it. Shindo Muso Ryu is in most capital cities, and Muso Shinden Ryu is also relatively wide-spread. Outside of my schools, Australia also hosts shibu and dojo for Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha, Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu (Edo line), Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, Oishi Shinkage Ryu, Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, Tamiya Ryu, Sosuishi Ryu, Hoki Ryu, Shingetsu Muso Yanagi Ryu, Hontai Yoshin Ryu, Tenshin Buko Ryu, Tatsumi Ryu, and koryu-like arts such as Meifu Shinkage Ryu and Daito Ryu... so, not accessible? Depends where you are, I suppose... Australia is still a relatively small community...



We do... and my perspective is based on over 30 years in the Takamatsuden, with that time being spent both inside and outside the Bujinkan system, having friendships and relationships with senior members of all three major X-Kan organisations, and having studied a range of koryu for the past 15 years or so in addition to my Takamatsuden studies. In addition, it's based on not being tied to a company line, or simply going along with anything that's claimed without basis.



Koryu typically refers to a tradition (in this case, martial, although there are also koryu forms of ikebana [flower arranging], sado [tea ceremony], kabuki [theatre], and so on) that is a continual tradition with an origin pre-dating the Meiji Restoration of around 1868 (some use 1873 with the Hattorei edict as a hard-line) when the samurai class was abolished and power returned to the Emperor Meiji, with the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Some, however, further differentiate into arts developed during the time of political and military turmoil known as the Sengoku Jidai (Period of Warring States) that ended in 1600 with the Battle of Sekigahara. But most go with the Meiji Restoration, so the youngest a koryu can be is about 160 years old.



Very very close... what you've described are the Takamatsuden (literally: transmission from Takamatsu). The X-Kan's specifically refer to the "big 3", the Bujinkan, Genbukan, and Jinenkan, as they all end in the term "kan". Outside of them, but still in the family of Takamatsuden, are Stephen Hayes' Toshindo, Brian McCarthy's BBD, Roy Ron's Shisenkan, and my own Jukuren Dojo, with many other one-offs dotted around the world.



While I don't disagree with your observation, I think it might be a little more about overt versus implied importance. Typically, we Westerners tend to look for larger "shows" or displays to indicate "etiquette", especially as aspects such as bowing, paying respects to a kamidana (shrine), and so on are largely alien from our daily life (whereas they are relatively commonplace in daily Japanese life), so they tend to stand out. When it comes to koryu, as they are so steeped in the Japanese culture, a big show is unnecessary... there will typically be some specialised form of bow or similar, but that's typically about it. It's done simply as a part of what you're doing, but isn't given any major highlight over the rest of the school's methods... it's just a part of the way to be in the dojo.

The bigger emphasis on displays and shows of etiquette tend to be in the more modern arts, mostly an outcropping of the events and Japanese mentality around WWII, where the idea of martial arts and military duty (a subversion of the bushido ideals, themselves being largely invented in the 20th Century), where such displays became a way to demonstrate patriotism and further the indoctrination of the youth. This led many martial arts (Judo, Karate, Aikido etc) to adopt an almost para-military style training paradigm, with drill-instructor style teachers barking orders, students moving in unison in a line, a lot of "HAI, SENSEI!!!" Cobra-Kai responses which have since become what people think of as "traditional training"... which is quite different from the training atmosphere found in most actual traditional schools.

What it comes down to, I feel, is that a koryu will expect you to conform to the culture of the dojo... as you said, observe and follow... whereas many modern arts will expect to dictate to you to get you to conform to the image.



Absolutely. In our first leaders meeting with Kajiya-soke for Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, one of the first things he asked was for us to go through how we perform Sassen, the first kata in the school. The idea wasn't for us to be uniform, or to correct what was "wrong", it was to see how we all expressed the first, fundamental waza, and, while we were all different, it was always Sassen. And no-one was corrected, despite the differences.



Sometimes I think one of the challenges in being in koryu more long-term is being able to simultaneously drop old versions of something while also retaining them as references... the way we perform the HNIR Seiho now under Kajiya-soke are, in many ways, very different to how I was first shown them when we were led by Iwami--soke... which is different to the way Imai-soke taught them... but, in all cases, the Seiho are the same, just the expression of them has varied. So, we keep the old ones as references, while not hanging onto them as practices, as they can help inform certain aspects of the waza as now done... it's the same with my MSR study, or the small and large changes in TSKSR, or the variations in the multiple groups of SMR around. The core of them is the same, even when the expression changes... even in regards to the application (Ryuto in the Omori Ryu/Shoden section of MSR, for example, some teachers teach it as an interception of an attack, others as a complete evasive action... but it's still the same waza).



Which koryu did you have experience of, Dave? This isn't to deny your experience or question it, but, as with most things, the particular koryu in question will shape how you see such things... we don't use rank in HNIR these days, rank in MSR is often linked with ZNKR Iaido (not with me, for the record... the line I learnt didn't apply them, as it relied upon the ZNKR ranking, but I don't train in ZNKR Iaido, so I've developed an in-house ranking for us)... some SMR groups use a modern Dan ranking, others use the traditional Menkyo, some do a combination... different schools will be easier or harder to rank in, or may not offer it at all.

I also think it's important to state if you're meaning only Bujinkan schools when you say X-Kan, or if you're including the other two big Kan organisations (both of which will be noticeably more consistent than the Bujinkan).



I can see how you may think that, but, honestly, no, it's not. We'll cover that in a bit.



Dude... no fair...



Just for those newer to this area, or unaware of just how egregious that Punisher is aiming to be here, Antony Cummins is one of the worst sources you could look to for anything other than being a rather shameless self-promoter with no credentials or knowledge in the field. That said...



... you weren't that far off. There's a real argument to be made that the majority of what we class as koryu are largely reconstructions and revitalised lines of older arts, and aren't really as old as they are made out to be (not all, of course, and it may be more just sections of certain arts, but, yeah, "made up things to look more historically accurate" isn't as inaccurate as you may think...).

Okay... now to the original question...

What is the difference between koryu training and x-kan training? Well, I think it's pretty clear by now that that depends entirely on which of the various Kan's (and very much which dojo if the Bujinkan), and which koryu you're actually talking about. We'll start with the various Kan groups.

As JKS said, these are various groups teaching what are known as the Takamatsuden traditions. While there are any number of off-shoots (myself included), the "big 3" are typically what is meant. The first of these is the Bujinkan, with the Genbukan being founded in 1984, and the Jinenkan a bit over a decade later in 1996. Both of these groups were founded by the two earliest students of Hatsumi Masaaki (Yoshiaki), Tanemura Shoto (Tsunehisa) and Manaka Unsui (Fumio) respectively. The Bujinkan teaches Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, which is Hatsumi's creation based on the material he received from his teacher, Takamatsu Toshitsugu (Chosui), in which he was awarded the soke-ship of some 9 martial systems; Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu, Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, Koto Ryu Koppojutsu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Dakentaijutsu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu Jutaijutsu, Kukishinden Happo Biken, Gyokushin Ryu Ninpo, Kumogakure Ryu Ninpo, and Gikan Ryu Koppotaijutsu. The Jinenkan teaches 6 of these (Togakure Ryu, Gyokko Ryu, Koto Ryu, Takagi Yoshin Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu, and Kukishinden), along with a 7th school that Manaka-sensei created to cover what he felt were gaps in the weaponry study, the Jinen Ryu (covering Nito, Iai, Tanto, and Jutte). The Genbukan number of schools has fluctuated, but is typically counted somewhere around 27, with some being variations of others (a range of Kukishin related arts, for example), some that are outside the Bujinkan (Asayama Ichiden Ryu, Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu, Bokuden Ryu, although these were studied by Hatsumi prior to his time with Takamatsu via another teacher named Ueno), and some that Tanemura has added from outside anything related to Takamatsu, such as a line of Daito Ryu, Mugen Shinto Ryu Iai, Chugoku (Chinese) Kempo, and Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu.

The Jinenkan refer to their overall syllabus as Jissen Kobudo (Ancient Martial Arts For Real Fighting), and employ a kyu/Dan grading system, with an emphasis on strong basics and fundamentals. The schools themselves are considered to be a way to embark on a deeper study of the art, with an attempt to keep them separate and distinct. The Genbukan have a range of subdivisions in their syllabus, with Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu covering the "ninja related" schools (Togakure, Gyokko, Koto, and others), and the Kokusai Jujutsu Renmei (International Jujutsu Federation) covering the more "samurai" arts (Takagi, Shinden Fudo, Kukishin, Bokuden, Asayama, Yagyu Shingan, and so on), as well as Chugoku Kempo covering a couple of Chinese martial arts. Ranking is separate in each subdivision, and members can also rank separately again in individual ryu-ha and weaponry areas, meaning a particular teacher may be a 6th Dan in Ninpo Taijutsu, 5th Dan in KJJR, 2nd Dan in Chugoku Kempo, Shoden Menkyo in Gyokko Ryu, Chuden Menkyo in Hontai Takagi Yoshin Ryu, 2nd Kyu in Bikenjutsu, 1st Dan in Bojutsu, and so on. Typically, the Ninpo Taijutsu rank, as the first achieved, is used to signify the overall ranking in the organisation.

A koryu, on the other hand, is simply a classical school of Japanese martial arts. While some dojo may house a few arts, or some arts may assimilate a few more minor arts over time, the emphasis in a koryu is to maintain the school in as pure a fashion as is possible, so the idea of housing many different arts in one spot, with one person, can be incredibly difficult without there being some kind of bleed-through from one art ot the next, robbing them of the essential character that makes the art what it is. When multiple arts are housed at once, they are typically rather distinct from each other to help in this separation, such as Ono-ha Itto Ryu being housed alongside Shinmuso Hayashizaki Ryu Battojutsu, and Chokugen Ryu O Naginatajutsu. These three arts don't conflict with each other, so don't lead to cross-contamination. Likewise, Shindo Muso Ryu Jo has a number of fuzoku ryu-ha (assimilated arts) that were largely developed by heads of the school over the years that have become adjunct studies, with Isshin Ryu Kusarigama, Ittatsu Ryu Hojo, and Shinto Ryu Kenjutsu coming from the first couple of generations, Ikkaku Ryu Jutte not long after, and Uchida Ryu Tanjo being developed by a Menkyo Kaiden practitioner in the late 19th Century.

The reason for this is simple. A koryu seeks to shape and structure it's members in a very particular fashion, both physically and mentally. The aim is to create someone who is a physical embodiment/manifestation of the school itself, someone who thinks the way the school expects, acts the way the school defines, and is physically structured in a way that suits the ryu. So, imagine what it's like when one school says you should always attack, and one says you should always wait for an attack... or one says you need strong legs, but the other says that's not important, you need flexible hips... it can, at best, be highly confusing for someone aiming to have so many conflicting ideals going at once!

When you look at the various X-Kan approaches, despite their apparent differences in methodology, the morphology is largely consistent, albeit more strictly observed in some than others (but that's more due to the teachers at the head and their preference). Even though the arts come from a range of different schools, the essential body structure, sense of engagement, mentality, and so on are the same, with minimal variation to distinguish the origin of a particular technical construct and concept, rather than anything much deeper than that. In other words, a Bujinkan student is always going to be doing Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, regardless of the ryu being looked at or the kata's origin; a Genbukan practitioner is always going to be doing Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu no matter the school being studied or the subdivision; a Jinenkan member is going to be performing in a way that is Jinenkan Jissen Kobudo, no matter what the method in class that day is. Most differences become largely superficial... with the Jinenkan preferring very low, squatting stances, and strong blocking actions, emphasising the conditioning that Manaka feels is important, the Genbukan preferring extended stances and overt shows of zanshin, emphasising what Tanemura thinks are traditional martial values, and the Bujinkan tends to prefer more mobile, upright positioning, with an emphasis on flow and feel, and a de-emphasis on what are often considered "trappings", such as zanshin, reiho, and so on, emphasising Hatsumi's personal values of creativity and lack of interest in the outer aspects of the art. In a very real way, the Bujinkan is something I would describe as a pseudo-traditional, quasi-Japanese martial art, as it eschews pretty much everything that would identify it as either traditional or Japanese. It's one of the most Western "Japanese" arts I can think of.

And here's where we get a little controversial... a koryu will seek to pass on the ryu to the students in the best way it can see. That means long hours of repetition and refinement of the same kata over and over again, with more and more aspects coming to the fore the more you practice. There may be specific drills or exercises associated, but the core in the majority of cases will be kata geiko (kata practice). Some may also include some form of free-form study, but as that introduces a random aspect where the lessons of the school can be corrupted, it's not a high emphasis. The importance for a koryu, though, is the koryu itself. It doesn't matter so much what it does for you, it matters that it is protected and cared for. This is not the case for the X-Kan's (although Manaka is at least aiming for it, he is somewhat crippled by the manner in which he was trained in the first place), where the emphasis is far more Western, with the idea being that the arts are there to serve the needs of the student. But the core of the koryu study is the correct passing on of the school to the next generation, in order to keep it alive. In order for that to happen, of course, the schools need to have been transmitted/taught in the first place... and I don't think they were.

Despite Dunc's claim earlier of there being Japanese teachers who "taught/teach the traditional schools in a pretty formal manner", they are still just teaching (in the Bujinkan's case) Budo Taijutsu in a "pretty formal manner", albeit by attempting to follow the written material of one school or another. That is not the same thing as actually teaching the ryu, or being anywhere near close to a koryu study. While it may be highly detailed, and refined, and precise, and to the teachers' best understanding and knowledge, it is still, at the end of the day, Budo Taijutsu with a particular emphasis or focus. Now, the standard response is "well, you have to develop a relationship with a particular teacher, and, if they like you, and you're one of the lucky ones, and they have the goods, then they maybe will teach you the 'real' stuff, maybe... and, unless you've been in each dojo for every minute of every day and seen every teacher and student, you can't know it doesn't happen, cause some of these teachers have the actual licences and stuff!". Sadly, I can know, and that's just the end of it. In fact, if you look at all the actual evidence, it's pretty self apparent. Are there teachers with the licences and rank in individual schools? Yes. Does that matter? Simply put, no, as those licences mean exactly nothing when it comes to the way these organisations work.

Keeping with the Bujinkan here, as it's the parent organisation of the other two (the Genbukan is it's own case, but we'll see if we get there), the story is that Hatsumi learnt from Ueno Takashi, gaining Menkyo Kaiden in Asayama Ichiden Ryu, learning Shinden Fudo Ryu Taijutsu (Jutaijutsu in the Bujinkan, although not officially taught there), Bokuden Ryu, all over the course of about 3 years. He then left Ueno, and began studying under Takamatsu (the manner in which he left is still somewhat up in the air... Hatsumi says that he was told to seek out Takamatsu by Ueno, Ueno's side says he went there behind Ueno's back, and as a result, all his licencing under Ueno was considered hamon/expunged, Hatsumi says that he considers everything prior to Takamatsu being meaningless...) from around 1958. He trained with Takamatsu, taking long train rides every weekend, over the course of 15 years, up to Takamatsu's death, taking over the mantle of soke of the 9 traditions, and founding the Bujinkan as a way to transmit them. This is the common story in the Bujinkan, and taken as a statement of fact, proving that Hatsumi was taught the intricacies of these schools from the ground up. There are, however, a few problems.

Firstly, it was hardly every weekend. For at least the first few years, it was every few months at best. That's actually fine, and sounds far more reasonable... after all, he had a lot already under his belt to work with, and his training group (initially a group for the Ueno-den arts became a Takamatsu-den study group) could get on with the material they had. For the record, Hatsumi's first ranking from Takamatsu was the Sokeship of Togakure Ryu and Menkyo Kaiden in Gyokko Ryu in 1960 (Gyokko licencing coming about 6 months after the Togakure Ryu one), within 2 years of his starting training with Takamatsu. His training to complete the rest of the schools was the next 8 years, not 13, as he stated that the amount of time it takes to learn the art is "10 years... the same amount of time Hatsumi trained with Takamatsu" (Ninja: The Invisible Assassins - Adams). So, we've reduced the amount of years by a third, the frequency of trips to about a tenth... and in this highly reduced time, we are to believe that Hatsumi studied, progressed, and ranked in another 7 schools, some of which are huge and complex (Kukishin and Takagi)? Simply put, it's not possible. It is simply not possible to train to mastery all the different nuances and aspects of 9 disparate and distinct schools in such a short time. So what likely happened? Likely, Hatsumi studied with Takamatsu a range of methods of moving and applying various grappling and striking actions, starting ostensibly with Togakure Ryu and Gyokko Ryu, then would train in a number of other parts of the other ryu-ha in a more rudimentary "this strike, then this block, then this attack" manner, rather than taking the time to learn how this particular art strikes in the first place, instead using the mechanics that he was already familiar with (Togakure and Gyokko) to fill in the gaps there. It's also likely that the majority of material he received regarding the technical lists/kata of the schools was in paper-only form, as Takamatsu was known to send such things as a way of disseminating information (Ueno received a few things from him in this way, for example). In other words, it's most likely that Hatsumi never actually learnt the schools as distinct schools... just got a list of the kata, and was left to come up with what he thinks the kata were meant to be like (leading me to say that a lot of the way the kata are done in the Bujinkan and related arts are, bluntly, incorrect, at least from the perspective of the ryu themselves).

So, we have someone who never genuinely learnt the schools, but was given leadership of them. Or was he? Let's look at what Takamatsu was actually authorised to do... despite the idea that Hatsumi became soke of 9 traditions (interesting fact, he was only stating he was soke of 8 until a few years after Takamatsu's death... then the 9th, Gyokushin, mysteriously appeared... add to that the Gikan Ryu controversy, with it only being a small addition on his Koto Ryu transmission scroll, Kumogakure Ryu being practically non-existant, the fact that these three schools make no appearance in the public Bujinkan methods, are not found in the Jinenkan headed by Hatsumi's earliest student, nor in the Genbukan with the exception of Gikan coming from Sato Kinbei, and were not mentioned in Adams' book, and some major questions can be asked), there's a good argument to be made that he was not able to be named as such, particularly in regards to the Takagi Yoshin Ryu and Kukishinden arts, as Takamatsu was considered a Shihan, not Soke of these arts in the first place... but that's another aside. Anyway, we have someone who is ostensibly teaching these schools, but likely never really learnt them fully in the first place, certainly not in a progressive manner as is typical of koryu, who would then licence his students in them (starting with Manaka and Tanemura being given Menkyo Kaiden in Togakure and Gyokko almost as soon as Hatsumi received his own licencing in them), before later switching to the Dan ranking. In the early 80's, Hatsumi went through a period of intense illness, and thought it possible he may die, so had his senior students copy the scrolls, giving them the licences associated without actually taking them through any form of actual progression, in order to keep the schools going in a fashion, albeit without the actual training to accompany it. After he recovered, Hatsumi seems to have gone even further from the idea of promoting the schools or transmitting them, feeling that getting his personal approach to martial arts, what would become Budo Taijutsu, was of greater importance to him (and, to be clear, that is absolutely his right to do so). It wouldn't be until the late 90's after Manaka had left to form the Jinenkan, and was focusing on the different schools individually that Hatsumi saw the appeal that had, so began having yearly themes on individual schools (while still applying them in a Budo Taijutsu fashion, with no restriction on the methods, mechanics, mentality, or other of the school in question). For the record, in a recent interview, Manaka-sensei was quite explicit that such ryu-ha focused study was never an aspect of studying under Hatsumi... in fact, a big part of why he left to form the Jinenkan was that you never knew if what you saw Hatsumi do was actually part of the school or not, or accurate, or just him riffing on an idea at the time, and Manaka wanted to help preserve as best he could. This, of course, absolutely contradicts what many of the Bujinkan faithful claim is the case of Hatsumi teaching the seniors in a formal progression through the ryu, licencing them accordingly, and that's why you can get certain teachers to take you through the schools. He didn't, they can't, and any argument against that is simply ignorant of the history, the way schools are taught, what makes something a distinct school, and reality.

What this leaves us with is a few organisations that are really their own martial art (Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, Genbukan Ninpo Taijutsu, Jinenkan Jissen Kobudo), who take from a foundation of the technical material of a range of disparate arts (some of which with rather questionable origins, but that's for another time), and apply the values of their head teachers in lieu of having the actual schools themselves in anything other than names in a list. None of that makes them a bad choice (in fact, trying to have each school separate and independent of the others is an exhausting concept, one that I'm attempting to do, but I still use the Bujinkan Ten Chi Jin as a foundation... I just don't class it as a martial art... more a pre-martial art... which is also historically valid, for the record), as it maintains consistency within the organisation (for all it's lack of consistency issues, the Bujinkan's very inconsistent approach leads to a consistency of it's own kind), allowing for a way to measure development. If you were genuinely to go the other way, then your ranking would begin again with each school... it'd be like walking into a BJJ gym with your TKD black belt, and thinking they're the same thing, or vice versa. You start a new art? You start again. We also end with a bunch of groups that are lacking in inherent character that comes with the ryu-ha, so they tend to cater more to image than anything else, leading to exaggeration in some areas (overly formal and strict applications of authority and rank within the Genbukan, big shows of bowing and etiquette in the same, a reliance on deep, low stances designed for conditioning even up to high rank, as that makes the training physically more demanding, and therefore more "traditional" in the Jinenkan, playing into the who ultra-wise, unfailing mystical Asian master in Hatsumi for the Bujinkan... and don't get me started on the amount of stuff he's done that gets a complete green light from his students, even when you get them to admit it's bad, they find an excuse...), or a lack of awareness, and things put in for the sake of matching the image (the opening reiho to the classes at the Bujinkan hombu horrified me, as said, as it was so perfunctory and rushed that all reason and meaning was non-existant). Now, these may suit you perfectly... but remember, they are not, in any way, even really related to koryu study. They ape some aspects, but have no connection at all.

At the end of the day, though, what will be most important is the reason for your question... are you looking for your own study? If so, what is nearby to you? Do you have any koryu within distance? Or are you just curious?
Ahhh I see, so it's basically like karate yeah?

(I kid, I kid, great answer )
 

Bujingodai

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I was not training in those Koryu, possibly koryu influenced schools. I observed a few times some iaijutsu, some Aikijujutsu and some Kenjutsu. A very long time ago. That said, it was my observance that the reiho was more strict and the waza was more refined and taught more to the point.
For all purposes my X kan was mostly Bujinkan, until I came to Japan and was kind of disgusted by the pomp and lack of etiquette, boot licking and the what not and trained independently after that. I cross trained a lot. Nothing of great length in one spot to judge. I did go to a Genbukan school in Maryland that was tight.
I am no expert. Can only report what I was told and saw. Learning a lot from these posts.

My observance in Japan and training, cross training, seminars in probably over 20 Bujinkan dojo is they all taught it differently, all had different process, different history. All vastly different.
 

Bujingodai

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Jesus, you know I read the post more an more and again. I realize how little I actually "know" about what I have trained in and experienced. I realize there is some value in what I have learned and taught. But more and more I look at how sloppy the past of it all is. Makes me wonder, if coming out of retirement was right for me. When I left largely due to those reasons.
I now question myself. 30 years, 30 years of kidding myself, and having faith in a lot of scrap. Thinking I was part of tradition.

I don't know if I can continue it frankly and I'm glad I don't have many involved anymore. I am glad to have help guide some people who have become great successes. Likely not due to skill, just pseudo guidance.
 

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