Kaze Arashi-ryu - A statement from Ellis Amdur 12-01-2005
There was a recent thread about Kaze Arashi-ryu regarding it's legitimacy. Mark Raugas, a senior practitioner, who is a training partner of mine in Gao Bagua and a personal friend, responded to the questions based on what he knew -the oral traditions of his school as passed down by his teacher. I responded at the imputation several folks made that he was lying - I know my friend as a man of integrity, and so spoke up on his behalf. I also said that I'd seen some photos which he had referred to as supporting his statements (the photos were real, but the identifiers were, I believe, false). On my first viewing of the jujutsu in the system, it did appear to be Meiji period TYPE waza, and that I didn't know what to make of the kenjutsu (which, in fact, I had seen once in a demonstration).
My stepping in rather stopped the discussion.Don Roley said some complimentary things about my reputation for integrity, for which I thank him, and asked, in essence, if I could check things out. I didn't intend to do so - not in that way, perhaps. In the limited time that I have outside work, family and training, I'm always looking for what is true - and as soon as I discern something as false, I just ignore it. I have not cared to spend the time necessary to examine and debunk in depth.
Events intervened, however, due to my stepping in the discussion. Prompted by matters that are best discussed by KAR members if they choose, I reviewed two things: a) an account of the various origin stories told about the school b) Five DVD which have the bulk of the syllabus of the school. I will not go into more detail than is necessary here, and I do not care to discuss in any more detail what I post here. It is up to the current and former members of KAR to publicize any evidence they have, but suffice it to say that I have seen evidence to convince me of the following:
First of all, I am convinced that ALL of the claimed history of KAR is false - not mistakes, not misinterpretations, but fabrications. I do not believe that the art was created in Japan, and I also am convinced that neither Nishiyama nor the majority of the figures cited as senior shihan ever existed. I believe the school started with Mr. Henri Villaire.
Secondly, I carefully viewed the weapons kata and jujutsu as well, and see it as a pastiche of koryu kata from several prominent schools (derived, I believe, from videos - not actual training) grafted onto aikido type sword/tai-sabaki and movements, elements from aikido and Miyama-ryu, a school which Mr. Villaire is reported to have studied, as well as movements and techniques that are never seen outside of Japanese movies. The grafted on koryu techniques and sections of kata are so unique to the respective ryu that, chained together in one form, it is impossible, in my view, that they could have been independently arrived at. If you see a dancer do fifteen signature movements from a Balanchine choreography, sprinkled within another dance, it's pretty well impossible that someone could have recreated something so unique.
These elements and waza are, however, executed with profound misunderstanding. In addition, there were elements of etiquette, stance, kamae, oral teachings, ma-ai, the names of the kata and the structure of the kata which absolutely have never appeared in any Japanese school. It would be like seeing a Balinese dancer in toe shoes. Or a claim that Bach played on the harpsichord with marimba hammers.
I'm outraged on behalf of my friends, both for the years they've spent in dedicated training (there ARE some good technique - their time was not totally wasted), but also that they have found themselves, in good faith, defending a lie. (I stand by my statement that M. Raugas was not lying).
I still do not agree with the proposition that one should furnish an outsider with the contact information of one's teacher, who may wish to be private for any one of a number of reasons. But the larger issue is this - were I not to post this, I would be supporting something I believe to be a lie. I'm simply here setting the record straight.
One final point - I am not posting this at the request of any KAR or former KAR member. I am speaking for myself, after forming my own opinion after examining in depth the differing accounts of the oral history, examining at great length the video of the mokuroku, and after becoming privy to documentary evidence which establishes, as far as I am concerned, the fundamental dishonesty at the core of this organization, something that is the responsiblity of the teacher alone.