Yagyu Shingan Ryu Canada

Nobufusa

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Hello everyone.

I am considering moving to Ontario, and I am interested in training in the Yagyu Shingan Ryu there.


The website says "Study consists solely of 2-person partnered kata forms"

I started training Yagyu Shingan Ryu recently in the city I currently live in, and I already learned 5 variations of the first solo Kata. I understand that the school in Ontario is a different line of Yagyu Shingan Ryu, but are they so different that the Ontario branch is completely lacking in solo katas?

I also noticed they only train 1 hour a week, but at the branch I started at, we train 4 hours a week, and currently, the Ontario branch isn't training at all until further notice (ostensibly because of COVID I assume). Is there any chance that once they resume practice they might train more often? One hour doesn't seem sufficient to me.

Being that they only train 1 hour a week under normal circumstances, it seems like I would have to cross train in another art, to get enough hours per week, but as I understand it cross training in Koryu is frowned upon. Where would that leave me?


Appreciate all of your inputs.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I can't speak to the koryu aspect of this thread, but if you are learning purely kata, then you can easily practice on your own time. Even with two-man forms, you can practice it by yourself. So if you feel 4 hours a week are needed and they only offer one, spend 3 hours training what you've learned so far on your own, then during the other hour ask questions that you may have had and learn new material.


Normally that's tougher for beginners as they don't have the material to begin with, but since you've already got 5 variations of one kata you should be able to do so on your own.
 
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Nobufusa

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How can I practice a two man kata on my own?
 

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How can I practice a two man kata on my own?
By picking a side and doing those movements. If you learn a solo form, the applications for the techniques in that form are, essentially, the other half of a two person form.
 
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Nobufusa

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By picking a side and doing those movements. If you learn a solo form, the applications for the techniques in that form are, essentially, the other half of a two person form.
I just can't imagine why they wouldn't also teach solo Kata, especially considering that I've already learned solo kata in the same Koryu albeit from a different line. It doesn't make any sense to me.
 

BrendanF

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I just can't imagine why they wouldn't also teach solo Kata, especially considering that I've already learned solo kata in the same Koryu albeit from a different line. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Most koryu do not practise solo kata, with the exception of iai. There are some well known exceptions though. I'm not a member of Yagyu shingan ryu, but I recall hearing that the solo kata were developed recently by Shimazu sensei. The Arakido folks led by Kajitsuka sensei are a completely different lineage, and so it would stand to reason that they do not practise the newer solo kata devised by Shimazu sensei. As I said this is just speculation from an oustider - perhaps contact Doug Tong and ask?
 
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Nobufusa

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Most koryu do not practise solo kata, with the exception of iai. There are some well known exceptions though. I'm not a member of Yagyu shingan ryu, but I recall hearing that the solo kata were developed recently by Shimazu sensei. The Arakido folks led by Kajitsuka sensei are a completely different lineage, and so it would stand to reason that they do not practise the newer solo kata devised by Shimazu sensei. As I said this is just speculation from an oustider - perhaps contact Doug Tong and ask?
That makes a lot of sense, thank you for your insight, that was very informative. Doug Tong Sensei as I understand it, teaches Yagyu Shinkage Ryu in Montreal. The Yagyu Shingan Ryu in Ontario is taught by Scott Brodie Sensei. I didn't think that Soke had the power to change or add to the school, wouldn't that make it a Gendai Budo and not a Koryu once you start changing the techniques?
 

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Doug Tong does both Yagyu Shinkage ryu and Yagyu Shingan ryu under the authority of Kajitsuka sensei of Arakido. I thought he must be the person in charge in Montreal, but if not perhaps ask Mr Brodie.

Anyone who studies a koryu for any length of time will encounter changes. These changes can take place for any number of reasons - I've seen a Shihan alter the way a technique was taught and practiced explicitly as a means to 'correct' some common problem encountered by students, with an understanding that this change was temporary.. by way of example. Ellis Amdur has a fantastic chapter on change in koryu in his wonderful book 'Old School'.
 

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I just can't imagine why they wouldn't also teach solo Kata, especially considering that I've already learned solo kata in the same Koryu albeit from a different line. It doesn't make any sense to me.
If you learn paired kata, you're also learning solo kata.
 
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Nobufusa

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Most koryu do not practise solo kata, with the exception of iai. There are some well known exceptions though. I'm not a member of Yagyu shingan ryu, but I recall hearing that the solo kata were developed recently by Shimazu sensei. The Arakido folks led by Kajitsuka sensei are a completely different lineage, and so it would stand to reason that they do not practise the newer solo kata devised by Shimazu sensei. As I said this is just speculation from an oustider - perhaps contact Doug Tong and ask?
Would you mind sharing what those well known exceptions are which contain solo kata in their curriculum? Especially Koryu Jujutsu?
 

BrendanF

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Wow, now that I'm put on the spot it's a bit tough. I'm sure Chris will add to what I can think of. But I think I can remember a couple - the Yagyu Shingan ryu stuff I've seen is some of the only 'jujutsu' solo kata I can think of. Depending on your definition of 'solo kata'..

Araki ryu Gunyo Kogusoku are known for performing sojutsu kata solo, though I believe there is an uke role which may be practised with regularity, or not.. again not being a member I would defer to someone like Saitama Steve.
Fuden ryu also perform sojutsu kata solo, if I recall correctly.
Shingetsu Muso Yanagi ryu has a konaginata that I think is performed solo - again I think there may be an uke role.

That's about all I can think of, if you ignore the obvious like iai, kyudo or hojutsu ryuha. The reality is that solo stuff in koryu is almost all kihon - kata are nearly always paired.
 

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Hello everyone.

Hi Nobufusa, good to see you here again.

I am considering moving to Ontario, and I am interested in training in the Yagyu Shingan Ryu there.

Cool. Bear in mind that, as it's part of the Arakido organisation, both Yagyu Shinkage and Yagyu Shingan Ryu are taught... whether they offer them separately is something to look into, but most of Kajitsuka-s' keiko-kai tend to do both, as Kajitsuka-s considers them to be highly complementary. That said, there are a few things on the Dragon Fencing website that strike me as... less than ideal... at least in how they're presented there.


The website says "Study consists solely of 2-person partnered kata forms"

Yep.

I started training Yagyu Shingan Ryu recently in the city I currently live in, and I already learned 5 variations of the first solo Kata. I understand that the school in Ontario is a different line of Yagyu Shingan Ryu, but are they so different that the Ontario branch is completely lacking in solo katas?

Yes, they are.

You would likely have been studying Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha Heihojutsu, under Shimazu Kenji-shihan... which, if you weren't in Japan, means that you were in France with Phillipe, in Switzerland or Sweden with Per, or in Australia with Phil Hinshelwood (or, of course, in a study group under the authority of these persons). Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha is Shimazu-shihan's synthesis of the Edo and Sendai lines (a couple of Sendai lines, actually), as well as a lot of his own research into the older documentation of the school. As such, he has re-introduced a range of practices, such as particular stepping methods, and exploration into a fascinating approach to bio-mechanics referred to in the school as "Yama Seigan", as well as restructuring and introducing a range of facets, such as the solo performance of things like the Nijuikkajo of the Omote Kajo (the "outer" techniques, or the basic ones first learnt), and body conditioning exercises such as mifuri (body spinning). The school focuses on a wide range of waza drawn from these various forms, including four separate areas of jujutsu (including a fascinating area called Gyoi Dori, involving protecting a feudal lord from an attack...), kenjutsu, batto, bo (the cho-bo of YSgR is a bit shorter than others, close to 5 foot rather than the more common 6), an array of small weapons including horse implements, small kama, and twin short swords (ryo-kodachi), as well as a large emphasis on katchu bujutsu (armoured combat). This makes for a wide and deep school of study.

By contrast, the Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu school, sometimes referred to as the Goto-ha, or the Edo line, is pretty much jujutsu, ken, and bo (back to a more typical 6 foot here). This school is headed by Kajitsuka-s, who inherited it along with the Otsubo-den Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, from Muto Masao-sensei. There are some clear similarities between these sections from each line, but the execution is very different, most notably in the jujutsu. The Taijutsu tends to be more "immediate" in it's applications, and less esoteric, as well as having less areas to cover, and no katchu aspect.

Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heihojutsu (Chikuosha) - please note that the white belts being worn are nothing at all to do with rank, but are representative of the sarashi, a white cotton band worn in the place of an obi (belt) in armour, a hallmark of the katchu bujutsu traditions found here.
Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu

Then, there is the group headed by Sato Kinbei's daughter (Sato Jushinsai), which is also taught in the Genbukan. It's based in the Sendai line, and is similar to the next one. I've seen this group perform their kata solo in some embu, but I'm not sure if that's something they've copied from the Chikuosha group, if it's a part of their regular practice, or not.
Lastly, there is the group maintained by Hoshi Tokuichi, successor to Hoshi Kunio, one of the primary teachers in Sendai Yagyu Shingan Ryu for Shimazu Kenji.

So, yeah, while there's certain similarities, each line is distinct, with the Chikuosha line being probably the most exhaustive in their syllabus (I'm quite a fan of a lot of their weapon retention methods, the usage of sageo is wonderful...), as well as having some of the most distinctive actions (the high stepping for one). The Edo line (Taijutsu) is less flashy, with a more restricted syllabus, but still showing the traits of Yagyu Shingan Ryu, as you would expect.

I also noticed they only train 1 hour a week, but at the branch I started at, we train 4 hours a week, and currently, the Ontario branch isn't training at all until further notice (ostensibly because of COVID I assume). Is there any chance that once they resume practice they might train more often? One hour doesn't seem sufficient to me.

That would be a question for them. I teach one of my schools for one and a half hours once a fortnight... I would like to do it more often, and for longer, but logistics sometimes dictate things where ideals can't... in those cases, it comes down to dedicated personal keiko in order to ingrain the ryu's methodologies and approaches... so, is it enough? By itself, not at all. But I don't think class time alone is enough in any circumstances.

Being that they only train 1 hour a week under normal circumstances, it seems like I would have to cross train in another art, to get enough hours per week, but as I understand it cross training in Koryu is frowned upon. Where would that leave me?

It's not that it's frowned upon, although certainly some schools go so far as to not allow it (I'm looking at you, Kashima Shinryu...); what you have to look to is the ideal and aim of the study of a koryu... you're not studying a koryu to "learn to fight", or anything as pedestrian... you're doing it in order to completely inhabit the physicality and mentality of the ryu itself. In order to do that as accurately and effectively as possible, it is best to have as little conflicting information being trained as possible. Still, when it comes to koryu and cross training, the answer is the same as koryu and anything else... talk to your teacher first. You might find they encourage it, especially if it's something that is complementary... the Australian group also train judo, Morishige Ryu Hojutsu (Hinawajutsu - Classical Japanese gunnery), and I believe are doing some BJJ, and have integrated some boxing methods into their training... but, importantly, they are kept separate from the ryu's teachings.

Appreciate all of your inputs.

Anytime.

I can't speak to the koryu aspect of this thread, but if you are learning purely kata, then you can easily practice on your own time. Even with two-man forms, you can practice it by yourself. So if you feel 4 hours a week are needed and they only offer one, spend 3 hours training what you've learned so far on your own, then during the other hour ask questions that you may have had and learn new material.

Unfortunately, while not being able to speak to the koryu aspect, you're discussing the methodology found in the koryu aspect... kata here are not what you are thinking of. The videos I linked above are all kata... everything shown in the embu are kata. Kata in this form is a paired exercise, often involving a particular interplay of energies and momentums... some kata can't really be done solo without the requisite input from a training partner. So, while it's true that you can go through the actions solo somewhat, it's not really the same as training the kata... additionally, particular for a more junior student, only one side might be taught and studied for a while... so it's not necessarily true that a junior student would have sufficient understanding of the teki's side of things to follow how to do them solo.

Normally that's tougher for beginners as they don't have the material to begin with, but since you've already got 5 variations of one kata you should be able to do so on your own.

Well... it's not that simple, either... if Nobufusa is engaging in a study of a new line of the ryu, something distinct and separate from his previous study (training in Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu after training with Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heihojutsu Chikuosha), then continuing to train the methods of the previous school would not be considered a good plan... for one thing, he's potentially re-enforcing improperly or incompletely understood methods without correction (he's no longer in a group where he could receive it), for another, the methods of the Taijutsu group could run contrary to those of the Heihojutsu group, leading to slowing the progress in the new school, and more.

By picking a side and doing those movements. If you learn a solo form, the applications for the techniques in that form are, essentially, the other half of a two person form.

Yeah, again, this is rather different to the "forms/kata" approach of modern arts... as a result, such ideas don't really apply. As a junior, there isn't much in the way of "picking a side"... it's entirely realistic that he may only have one side of them at all... secondarily, while there can be any number of applications (oyo waza) for the kata, it's very removed from the concept of bunkai that I believe you're thinking of here...

I just can't imagine why they wouldn't also teach solo Kata, especially considering that I've already learned solo kata in the same Koryu albeit from a different line. It doesn't make any sense to me.

Because it's not part of the school (Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, as taught in the Arakido organisation). It doesn't have to make sense to you or not, really. I'm also not sure I'd class them completely as the same koryu... related, yes... but, at the same time, distinct in their approach. Different lines is perhaps the best way to look at them, or different branches...

That makes a lot of sense, thank you for your insight, that was very informative. Doug Tong Sensei as I understand it, teaches Yagyu Shinkage Ryu in Montreal. The Yagyu Shingan Ryu in Ontario is taught by Scott Brodie Sensei.

Scott is under Doug Tong. Doug started in 1990 in Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu in the Sugino-dojo, although we haven't seen him in a long time. He still teaches his understanding of the school, but in the early 2000's, he became a student of Kajitsuka and Arakido, which teaches (as mentioned) Edo-den (Goto-ha) Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, and Otsubo-den Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. While both seem to have focused more on one than the other, this is why you also have Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (and Katori Shinto Ryu) listed on the Dragon Fencing page (as well as multiple reference to Doug Tong, including listing him as the primary instructor). What you're looking at with Scott is a branch dojo of Doug's group, really. The relationship is quite close between them.

I didn't think that Soke had the power to change or add to the school, wouldn't that make it a Gendai Budo and not a Koryu once you start changing the techniques?

One could say that the soke (or representative head of a line, which might also include a Menkyo Kaiden holder, a shihan, shihanke, or any of a couple of other qualifiers) are the only ones who have the power (or, really, authority) to change, add, adapt, adjust, or modify a school. In fact, most soke (or others as listed above) consider it a big part of their duty as lineage holders to examine the schools as thoroughly as they can in order to do just that... of course, the question becomes what to change, how, and why... it needs to be a reason consistent with the ryu's teachings themselves. Most of the time, changes are made in order to facilitate a particular teaching ideal or approach a leader of a line/ryu has... if there is a major difference, it is more likely to create a new ryu-ha itself. Branches can be created by a senior (say, Menkyo Kaiden holder) leaving to do things in a way that they see fit... not really creating a new school, but perhaps politically moving away... the Moto-ha Yoshin Ryu would be a recent example of that, with the founder of the line, Akimoto-sensei, being a Menkyo holder in Hontai Yoshin Ryu, who left to pursue his approach to the art... is this koryu, or is it gendai, as the foundation of the Moto-ha was in the 80's? Or is it koryu, as it's really just a Menkyo continuation of the Hontai Yoshin Ryu, itself a continuation of the Takagi Ryu, started in the 60's? Or the Gosho-ha Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, begun in 1988...? They now claim to be the "legit" mainline (somewhat disputed, one might say...), even though they came about as a political split from the 10th soke of the school... can you see how messy this can get?

Then we get into "changing the techniques"... it's a difficult area to get into, as all waza have some degree of flexibility in execution and interpretation... are the techniques changed if the feet are slightly differently aligned? One school I study used to have the feet forming a "T", now you can do that or form an "L" (I do the "L" variant myself, others in my dojo do the "T" one)... how about if the height of a sword posture changes? What about if the angle of a cut changes, or a different kamae is used at one stage? Are these "changes"? Or are they variations? How can you tell? Which should you do? How do you know which aspects are important, and which can be altered/varied? Realistically, the reason it's only the senior most levels who are in a position to make such decisions is that they have a complete over-view of the school, and can see what the most important facets are... so, so long as those important factors are kept consistent, the rest can kinda flow as it needs to. Below that level? Deciding what to keep, or what to leave out can lead to some major gaps in the school in the future...

The last part is to look at the way Shimazu Kenji-shihan went about structuring the Chikuosha line... he gained menkyo level licences from two teachers of different Sendai lines, as well as a line of Edo Yagyu Shingan Ryu. He then went through a lot of old documents from the school, rediscovered a range of methods that had been lost over the years, and re-integrated them into the school as he taught it. He also taught an approach to aspects such as the Omote no Kajo (Nijuikajo) that enabled it to have multiple levels of lessons, with variations in the Omote form, the Chugokui form, and the Okuden forms, as well as variations for learning fundamentals of the wide array of weaponry studied in the school... in other words, the Omote no Kajo forms the basis of learning the entire school, and the mechanics of every possible weapon picked up in the ryu, without having to learn more and more kata each time... quite a brilliant approach, really, but not one that necessarily works for all ryu, and not even for all forms of Yagyu Shingan Ryu... the structure of the bo and ken, as well as the style of jujutsu in the Taijutsu form doesn't lend itself as well to the same concept...

As far as the list of solo exercises in koryu, yeah, Brendan has listed pretty much what I'm aware of... beyond that, there are quite a lot of solo (tandoku) conditioning exercises in any number of ryu-ha, but they really aren't so much "kata" (敶)... although, they might be looked at as a form of kata ()... depending on how you approach them.
 
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Nobufusa

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Hi Nobufusa, good to see you here again.



Cool. Bear in mind that, as it's part of the Arakido organisation, both Yagyu Shinkage and Yagyu Shingan Ryu are taught... whether they offer them separately is something to look into, but most of Kajitsuka-s' keiko-kai tend to do both, as Kajitsuka-s considers them to be highly complementary. That said, there are a few things on the Dragon Fencing website that strike me as... less than ideal... at least in how they're presented there.



Yep.



Yes, they are.

You would likely have been studying Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha Heihojutsu, under Shimazu Kenji-shihan... which, if you weren't in Japan, means that you were in France with Phillipe, in Switzerland or Sweden with Per, or in Australia with Phil Hinshelwood (or, of course, in a study group under the authority of these persons). Yagyu Shingan Ryu Chikuosha is Shimazu-shihan's synthesis of the Edo and Sendai lines (a couple of Sendai lines, actually), as well as a lot of his own research into the older documentation of the school. As such, he has re-introduced a range of practices, such as particular stepping methods, and exploration into a fascinating approach to bio-mechanics referred to in the school as "Yama Seigan", as well as restructuring and introducing a range of facets, such as the solo performance of things like the Nijuikkajo of the Omote Kajo (the "outer" techniques, or the basic ones first learnt), and body conditioning exercises such as mifuri (body spinning). The school focuses on a wide range of waza drawn from these various forms, including four separate areas of jujutsu (including a fascinating area called Gyoi Dori, involving protecting a feudal lord from an attack...), kenjutsu, batto, bo (the cho-bo of YSgR is a bit shorter than others, close to 5 foot rather than the more common 6), an array of small weapons including horse implements, small kama, and twin short swords (ryo-kodachi), as well as a large emphasis on katchu bujutsu (armoured combat). This makes for a wide and deep school of study.

By contrast, the Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu school, sometimes referred to as the Goto-ha, or the Edo line, is pretty much jujutsu, ken, and bo (back to a more typical 6 foot here). This school is headed by Kajitsuka-s, who inherited it along with the Otsubo-den Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, from Muto Masao-sensei. There are some clear similarities between these sections from each line, but the execution is very different, most notably in the jujutsu. The Taijutsu tends to be more "immediate" in it's applications, and less esoteric, as well as having less areas to cover, and no katchu aspect.

Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heihojutsu (Chikuosha) - please note that the white belts being worn are nothing at all to do with rank, but are representative of the sarashi, a white cotton band worn in the place of an obi (belt) in armour, a hallmark of the katchu bujutsu traditions found here.
Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu

Then, there is the group headed by Sato Kinbei's daughter (Sato Jushinsai), which is also taught in the Genbukan. It's based in the Sendai line, and is similar to the next one. I've seen this group perform their kata solo in some embu, but I'm not sure if that's something they've copied from the Chikuosha group, if it's a part of their regular practice, or not.
Lastly, there is the group maintained by Hoshi Tokuichi, successor to Hoshi Kunio, one of the primary teachers in Sendai Yagyu Shingan Ryu for Shimazu Kenji.

So, yeah, while there's certain similarities, each line is distinct, with the Chikuosha line being probably the most exhaustive in their syllabus (I'm quite a fan of a lot of their weapon retention methods, the usage of sageo is wonderful...), as well as having some of the most distinctive actions (the high stepping for one). The Edo line (Taijutsu) is less flashy, with a more restricted syllabus, but still showing the traits of Yagyu Shingan Ryu, as you would expect.



That would be a question for them. I teach one of my schools for one and a half hours once a fortnight... I would like to do it more often, and for longer, but logistics sometimes dictate things where ideals can't... in those cases, it comes down to dedicated personal keiko in order to ingrain the ryu's methodologies and approaches... so, is it enough? By itself, not at all. But I don't think class time alone is enough in any circumstances.



It's not that it's frowned upon, although certainly some schools go so far as to not allow it (I'm looking at you, Kashima Shinryu...); what you have to look to is the ideal and aim of the study of a koryu... you're not studying a koryu to "learn to fight", or anything as pedestrian... you're doing it in order to completely inhabit the physicality and mentality of the ryu itself. In order to do that as accurately and effectively as possible, it is best to have as little conflicting information being trained as possible. Still, when it comes to koryu and cross training, the answer is the same as koryu and anything else... talk to your teacher first. You might find they encourage it, especially if it's something that is complementary... the Australian group also train judo, Morishige Ryu Hojutsu (Hinawajutsu - Classical Japanese gunnery), and I believe are doing some BJJ, and have integrated some boxing methods into their training... but, importantly, they are kept separate from the ryu's teachings.



Anytime.



Unfortunately, while not being able to speak to the koryu aspect, you're discussing the methodology found in the koryu aspect... kata here are not what you are thinking of. The videos I linked above are all kata... everything shown in the embu are kata. Kata in this form is a paired exercise, often involving a particular interplay of energies and momentums... some kata can't really be done solo without the requisite input from a training partner. So, while it's true that you can go through the actions solo somewhat, it's not really the same as training the kata... additionally, particular for a more junior student, only one side might be taught and studied for a while... so it's not necessarily true that a junior student would have sufficient understanding of the teki's side of things to follow how to do them solo.



Well... it's not that simple, either... if Nobufusa is engaging in a study of a new line of the ryu, something distinct and separate from his previous study (training in Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu after training with Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heihojutsu Chikuosha), then continuing to train the methods of the previous school would not be considered a good plan... for one thing, he's potentially re-enforcing improperly or incompletely understood methods without correction (he's no longer in a group where he could receive it), for another, the methods of the Taijutsu group could run contrary to those of the Heihojutsu group, leading to slowing the progress in the new school, and more.



Yeah, again, this is rather different to the "forms/kata" approach of modern arts... as a result, such ideas don't really apply. As a junior, there isn't much in the way of "picking a side"... it's entirely realistic that he may only have one side of them at all... secondarily, while there can be any number of applications (oyo waza) for the kata, it's very removed from the concept of bunkai that I believe you're thinking of here...



Because it's not part of the school (Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, as taught in the Arakido organisation). It doesn't have to make sense to you or not, really. I'm also not sure I'd class them completely as the same koryu... related, yes... but, at the same time, distinct in their approach. Different lines is perhaps the best way to look at them, or different branches...



Scott is under Doug Tong. Doug started in 1990 in Tenshinsho Den Katori Shinto Ryu in the Sugino-dojo, although we haven't seen him in a long time. He still teaches his understanding of the school, but in the early 2000's, he became a student of Kajitsuka and Arakido, which teaches (as mentioned) Edo-den (Goto-ha) Yagyu Shingan Ryu Taijutsu, and Otsubo-den Owari Yagyu Shinkage Ryu. While both seem to have focused more on one than the other, this is why you also have Yagyu Shinkage Ryu (and Katori Shinto Ryu) listed on the Dragon Fencing page (as well as multiple reference to Doug Tong, including listing him as the primary instructor). What you're looking at with Scott is a branch dojo of Doug's group, really. The relationship is quite close between them.



One could say that the soke (or representative head of a line, which might also include a Menkyo Kaiden holder, a shihan, shihanke, or any of a couple of other qualifiers) are the only ones who have the power (or, really, authority) to change, add, adapt, adjust, or modify a school. In fact, most soke (or others as listed above) consider it a big part of their duty as lineage holders to examine the schools as thoroughly as they can in order to do just that... of course, the question becomes what to change, how, and why... it needs to be a reason consistent with the ryu's teachings themselves. Most of the time, changes are made in order to facilitate a particular teaching ideal or approach a leader of a line/ryu has... if there is a major difference, it is more likely to create a new ryu-ha itself. Branches can be created by a senior (say, Menkyo Kaiden holder) leaving to do things in a way that they see fit... not really creating a new school, but perhaps politically moving away... the Moto-ha Yoshin Ryu would be a recent example of that, with the founder of the line, Akimoto-sensei, being a Menkyo holder in Hontai Yoshin Ryu, who left to pursue his approach to the art... is this koryu, or is it gendai, as the foundation of the Moto-ha was in the 80's? Or is it koryu, as it's really just a Menkyo continuation of the Hontai Yoshin Ryu, itself a continuation of the Takagi Ryu, started in the 60's? Or the Gosho-ha Hyoho Niten Ichi Ryu, begun in 1988...? They now claim to be the "legit" mainline (somewhat disputed, one might say...), even though they came about as a political split from the 10th soke of the school... can you see how messy this can get?

Then we get into "changing the techniques"... it's a difficult area to get into, as all waza have some degree of flexibility in execution and interpretation... are the techniques changed if the feet are slightly differently aligned? One school I study used to have the feet forming a "T", now you can do that or form an "L" (I do the "L" variant myself, others in my dojo do the "T" one)... how about if the height of a sword posture changes? What about if the angle of a cut changes, or a different kamae is used at one stage? Are these "changes"? Or are they variations? How can you tell? Which should you do? How do you know which aspects are important, and which can be altered/varied? Realistically, the reason it's only the senior most levels who are in a position to make such decisions is that they have a complete over-view of the school, and can see what the most important facets are... so, so long as those important factors are kept consistent, the rest can kinda flow as it needs to. Below that level? Deciding what to keep, or what to leave out can lead to some major gaps in the school in the future...

The last part is to look at the way Shimazu Kenji-shihan went about structuring the Chikuosha line... he gained menkyo level licences from two teachers of different Sendai lines, as well as a line of Edo Yagyu Shingan Ryu. He then went through a lot of old documents from the school, rediscovered a range of methods that had been lost over the years, and re-integrated them into the school as he taught it. He also taught an approach to aspects such as the Omote no Kajo (Nijuikajo) that enabled it to have multiple levels of lessons, with variations in the Omote form, the Chugokui form, and the Okuden forms, as well as variations for learning fundamentals of the wide array of weaponry studied in the school... in other words, the Omote no Kajo forms the basis of learning the entire school, and the mechanics of every possible weapon picked up in the ryu, without having to learn more and more kata each time... quite a brilliant approach, really, but not one that necessarily works for all ryu, and not even for all forms of Yagyu Shingan Ryu... the structure of the bo and ken, as well as the style of jujutsu in the Taijutsu form doesn't lend itself as well to the same concept...

As far as the list of solo exercises in koryu, yeah, Brendan has listed pretty much what I'm aware of... beyond that, there are quite a lot of solo (tandoku) conditioning exercises in any number of ryu-ha, but they really aren't so much "kata" (敶)... although, they might be looked at as a form of kata ()... depending on how you approach them.
Hi Chris. Thank you for your sharing your wealth of knowledge, again. I didn't forget about the last message you sent me by the way, it was a lot for me to process and I am still formulating my response.

Where does Jun Asano Sensei's line fit into all this? I saw that he has a branch in Germany.

Frankly, I didn't realize how different two lines of the same Ryu are, I didn't expect that!

When you mentioned the Genbukan, is that the same as the Takamatsu Genbukan? The reason I ask is because I saw a picture of Shoto Tamemura Sensei "demonstrating" Yagyu Shingan Ryu, which was on the their Genbukan website. I am not sure how that's possible because I didn't think that YSR had any affiliation with any off the Takamatsu-den. I am referring to this Yagyu Shingan Ryu Heiho Kacchu Yawara

The reason I ask about solo kata is because I feel solo kata is so important for practicing in my own time, especially since the branch I am considering doesn't train often enough, which leaves me to either A. Train in my own time (how? if there is no solo Kata, being that Solo kata is in my opinion, the best way to train on your own time) and/or B. To also train in another system, not to replace, the Koryu but to supplement it.

So I was a bit surprised, and even taken back to learn that the Taijutsu line I was considering doesn't have it, given that we spent so much time on precisely that in the Chikuosha line, (speaking of which, why is only one line called Taijutsu if both lines teach "Taijutsu"?). Of course, if I could, I would stick with the Chikuosha line, but because there is a high likelihood of moving for my masters degree next year, I may not be near a Chikuosha branch, in fact, unfortunately, I most likely won't as I haven't considered applying to any universities which has one nearby. (Although it might be worth considering universities in Switzerland, and Melbourne for just that reason, among many other factors, including supervisor research compatability, location, long term plans etc.).

Have you considered writing a book(s)? You have such a unique wealth of knowledge that you so generously share, and clearly spend a lot of your personal time on giving, If you were to write a book(s), I would buy it in a heartbeat. Plus it would be a great legacy to leave to the martial arts community, who could benefit a lot from your knowledge.

By the way, I reached out to Doug Tong Sensei, and he pretty much confirmed everything that was already said in this thread.
 
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