Thread: Yagyu Shingan-ryu taijutsu
10/20/2010 6:07am, #11
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Thanks for the info, DCS, nice job on the matter.
If even in the 21st century sometimes there are problems with paperwork i can see something similar in 1908!
10/20/2010 6:33am, #12
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Hi Evilenzo, I have no experience with any of the styles in this thread but quite a few of the movements in those videos resemble movements I learnt in the Bujinkan in Japan. Interesting to see the similarities in both the movements and the level of compliance and force. I trained with one of the shihan who applied about the same level of force as these videos (which was a lot more than you would get at the hombu) but on reflection I realise that it was still very compliant and not very realistic.
10/20/2010 7:12am, #13
10/21/2010 2:15am, #14
What a lot of people fail to grasp (because they forget the era these systems were developed and used) is that this is how they trained, their "aliveness" and "fully resisting" was tested when engaged with a real opponent.
The training undertaken with weapons such as the spear, helbard and sword could only be carried out in a simulated way - IE Kata be it with bokuto.
YouTube - Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto-ryu - Part I
Or with real swords/ weapons.
Example. (from 1.09)
YouTube - BudoArtOfKilling 02
... either way it was performed as Kata, the development of jujutsu in various forms likewise followed that format."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/21/2010 5:48am, #15
They must have had a massive "drop out" rate if a fight to the death was a student's first exposure to aliveness.
10/21/2010 6:54am, #16
To the soldiers of feudal Japan, kata was their way of simulating specific situations for which they had specific techniques. As an example, within the first level of training in Daito Ryu, there are some 118 individual techniques.
Now, let's not even get into a discussion about the "imperialistic" nature of the way the Japanese thought or, the methods (and code) by which they lived and died. For instance, could you commit suicide in the manner of hara kiri because you were ordered to do so ? I doubt it.
How about we look at the mentality of the kamikaze during WWII as an example of what this mentality was capable of driving people to do in the name of their country and ultimately what they saw as their honour.
Lindz, I'd suggest you go do some research into the development of today's koryu over the several hundred years of civil war, to give you an insight into Japanese martial traditions and their evolution.
Whilst you're doing that, ask yourself the question.. how, (for example) did Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu and Yagu Shinkage Ryu continue to exist to this day."To sin by silence when one should protest makes cowards out of men".
10/21/2010 8:49am, #17
Karl Friday, which I consider relevant to this thread.
SA: Its very uncommon to see an academic historian (as opposed to a pop culture historian) who has had extensive training in traditional Japanese martial arts. Has your experience in this field led to insights in your published works? How have these arts evolved and changed since the days of extensive warfare in the Sengoku?
KF: I think that having some kind of hands-on experience with traditional weapons is useful in all sorts of subtle and not-so-subtle ways to historians looking at military topics. Having field experience with an army in combat would also be very helpful-although, for better or worse, I dont have that.
Certainly actual involvement with bugei ryūha (martial training organizations) is crucial to meaningful analysis of the workings-the anatomy and physiology-of traditional martial art. These are very kabalistic organizations and the only way to really understand what they do and what theyre attempting to do is to experience it.
My work on samurai and military history has led me to some interesting realizations about the history of the bugei as well.
The conventional wisdom on Japanese martial art (ryūha bugei) ties its evolution closely to the history of warfare. It starts from the premise that systems and schools of martial art originally developed as tools for passing on workaday battlefield skills, in response to intensified demand for skilled fighting men spawned by the onset of the Sengoku age. Warriors hoping to survive and prosper on late medieval battlefields began to seek instruction from talented veterans, who in turn began to codify their knowledge and methodize its study. Thus bugei ryūha emerged more-or-less directly from the exigencies of medieval warfare. But-so goes the tale-the two-and-a-half-century Pax Tokugawa that began in 1600 brought fundamental changes to the practice of martial art. Instruction became professionalized, and in some cases, commercialized; training periods became longer, curricula were formalized; and elaborate systems of student ranks developed. Most significantly, however, the motives and goals underlying bugei practice were recast. Samurai, who no longer expected to spend time on the battlefield, sought and found a more relevant rationale for studying martial art, approaching it not simply as a means to proficiency in combat, as their ancestors had, but as a means to spiritual cultivation of the self.
This is basically the story I summarized in my Legacies of the Sword book. It begins from the logical assumption that ryūha bugei originated as an instrument for ordinary military training, and evolved from there into budō, a means to broader self-development and self-realization. But there are some problems with this picture that become clear if you juxtapose it against recent research on medieval warfare.
Its clear, first of all, that ryūha bugei couldnt have accounted for more than a tiny portion of sixteenth-century military training. There were at most a few dozen ryūha around during the 16th century, but armies of that era regularly mobilized tens of thousands of men. In order for even a fraction of sengoku warriors to have learned their craft through one or more ryūha, each and every ryūha of the period would need to have trained at least several hundred students a year. Ryūha bugei must, therefore, have been a specialized activity, pursued by only a minute percentage of Sengoku warriors.
An even bigger issue, however, is the applicability of the skills that late medieval bugeisha concentrated on developing to sixteenth-century warfare. For one thing, strategy and tactics were shifting, from the 15th century onward-precisely the period in which bugei ryūha began to appear-from reliance on individual warriors and small group tactics to disciplined group tactical maneuver. Which means that ryūha bugei, focusing on developing prowess in personal combat, emerged and flourished in almost inverse proportion to the value of skilled individual fighters on the battlefield.
All of the recent scholarship on late medieval warfare, moreover, argues that swords never became a key battlefield armament in Japan-that they were, rather, supplementary weapons, analogous to the sidearms worn by modern soldiers. While swords were carried in combat, they were used far more often in street fights, robberies, assassinations and other (off-battlefield) civil disturbances. Missile weapons-arrows, rocks, and later bullets-dominated battles, throughout the medieval period.
On the other hand, almost all of the ryūha that date back to the sengoku period or earlier claim that swordsmanship played a central role in their training, right from the start. Tsukahara Bokuden, Kamiizumi Ise-no-kami, Iizasa Chōisai, Itō Ittōsai, Yagyū Muneyoshi, Miyamoto Musashi and other founders of martial art schools were (are) all best known for their prowess as swordsmen.
Initially, I wondered if the place of swordsmanship in medieval martial art represented a major piece of counter-evidence to the new consensus on late medieval warfare. After all, if bugei ryūha started out as systems to train warriors for the battlefield, and made swordsmanship central to their arts, wouldnt that suggest that swords were more important to medieval warfare than the new scholarship would have us believe?
After wrestling with that question for quite a while, it finally struck me that the problem might lie in the first premise of this argument. All of the questions that were bothering me (why did bugei ryūha emerge at a time when generalship was rapidly coming to overshadow personal martial skills as the decisive element in battle, and the key to a successful military career? Why were there so few ryūha around during the Sengoku era, and why did they proliferate so rapidly during the early Tokugawa period, after the age of wars had passed? And why was swordsmanship so prominent in even the earliest bugei ryūha?) become much easier to answer if you just set aside the premise that bugei ryūha originated as instruments for teaching the workaday techniques of the battlefield. And the truth of the matter is that theres little basis for that hoary assumption, beyond the fact that war was endemic in Japan when the first martial art schools appeared. The received wisdom rests, in other words, on what amounts to a post hoc ergo prompter hoc fallacy.
It seems likely, then, that ryūha bugei and the pedagogical devices associated with it aimed from the start at conveying more abstract ideals of self-development and enlightenment. That is, that ryūha bugei was an abstraction of military science, not merely an application of it. It fostered character traits and tactical acumen that made those who practiced it better warriors, but its goals and ideals were more akin to those of liberal education than vocational training. In other words, bugeisha, even during the Sengoku era, had more in common with Olympic marksmanship competitors-training with specialized weapons to develop esoteric levels of skill under particularized conditions-than with Marine riflemen. They also had as much-perhaps more-in common with Tokugawa era and modern martial artists than with the ordinary warriors of their own day.
Basically, Im arguing that there was no fundamental shift of purpose in martial art education between the late sixteenth and mid-seventeenth centuries. Tokugawa era budō represented not a metamorphosis of late medieval martial art, but the maturation of it. Ryūha bugei itself constituted a new phenomenon-a derivative, not a linear improvement, of earlier, more prosaic military training.
(For the full argument, see my Off the Warpath piece, in Alex Bennetts Budo Perspectives [Auckland, New Zealand: Kendo World Publications, 2005], 249-68.)
You can read the entire interview here: http://www.facebook.com/notes/samura...y/146923894761
10/21/2010 10:52am, #18
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10/21/2010 3:53pm, #19
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I was going to offer the argument that what we know as koryu today are curricula filtered through 200 mostly peaceful years of the Tokugawa Era rather than Warring States Period boot camps.
But DCS has trumped me with Karl Friday's far more expert and detailed opinion. I think Ellis Amdur briefly discusses this in his book Old School too, but I don't have it in front of me.
Good find, DCS, good find.
10/22/2010 6:35am, #20
As a example: the developement of shinai/fukuro shinai and protective equipment in early Edo era allowed practise with some degree of aliveness like the Maniwa Nen-ryu guys you can see between 2:14 and 2:58 of this clip: