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Re: the essence of something
Kutaki Postmaster
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First just a clarification.

A couple of people objected to me offering only two extreme options in my questioning which is fair enough. This misunderstanding is due to my bad writing in failing to express myself accurately. What I intended to offer on each question was two outer extremes and expected people to answer with where they lay between those extremes.

To my next point (going back to the original question), I view the answer as varying greatly depending where you stand on things and therefore understanding where people stand is fundamental to understanding their opinion or argument.

I see it a bit like the political world (since we are having our federal election in Australia at the moment). One way of looking at it may be considering it as the political factions of the right and left if we give them different designations. I would divide it into five but would say its a sliding scale between each faction.

First it the fringe. These guys I would consider Bujinkan by name only. An example would be a guy that visited my dojo from an eastern european country who had never even seen and of the techniques from kihon happo. When asked what they did he just talked about lots of sparing and para-military stuff. The fringe I consider off the scale because they have gone in a completely different direction. Usually these guys have little or no contact with Japan or anyone inside the Bujinkan outside their own group.

Next is the far left. These guys are known by some a the hippie-kan. They place less importance on waza and almost never do a kata but go deeply into concepts of the feeling and essence. Very open to outside influences and allow people to find their own directions. Training will revolve less around specific skills but trying to find things for yourself based on concepts.

Centre Left. Where I would say Hatsumi-sensei and most of the shihan I train with sit. Stress the importance of good basics but are more conceptual in their outlook than having an adherence to strict form or kata. Kata are more often viewed as a launching pad for henka and a study of taijutsu.

Centre Right. Some other Japanese shihan sit here. Stress the importance of good basics and believe in the importance of performing kata correctly. Believes in the importance of the order of kata and the physical perfection over conceptual understanding. Believes henka as something to be perfected after the basic kata and waza are mastered.

Far Right. Completely disregard anything beyond the physical perfection of waza and kata.

Now where you stand on this scale (as in politics) will greatly affect how you view other opinions. The far left and far right will both consider each other completely off the rails. The centre left and centre right will more likely accept each others differences but (for example) the centre right will view the far left with distain as the centre left - while sympathetic to the far left will view the far right as being off.

What I am not talking about here is quality of budo as that can vary greatly between each group but a different matter of training perspective. I would acknowledge that these perspectives exist in the Bujinkan and their existance (outside of the fringe) is actually a good thing.

In my opinion overall quality can only be worked towards once we can get beyond these basic differences in training perspective and look for quality which is outside these influences and more towards what the "essence" actually is.

These politcal differences aren't solved by everyone shouting at each other, pushing their own opinons down people's throats or just shutting yourself off from everyone outside those of your same perspective. I think it this sort of thing that causes overall quality to drop.

Posted on: 2007/11/6 10:11
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Re: the essence of something
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Quote:


Next is the far left. These guys are known by some a the hippie-kan. They place less importance on waza and almost never do a kata but go deeply into concepts of the feeling and essence. Very open to outside influences and allow people to find their own directions. Training will revolve less around specific skills but trying to find things for yourself based on concepts..
We call them bliss-ninnies


Quote:

Centre Left. Where I would say Hatsumi-sensei and most of the shihan I train with sit. Stress the importance of good basics but are more conceptual in their outlook than having an adherence to strict form or kata. Kata are more often viewed as a launching pad for henka and a study of taijutsu.
.

The problem is that a lot of people think they have good basics, or never revisit them. They then move away from them and lose their ability to move in way that good basics will allow you to. I'm obviously not talking about Sensei and perhaps the folks you train with are well enough to do this, but I have heard "henka" from a lot of folks who think they have basics. I hope I'm centre right.

Posted on: 2007/11/6 10:22
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Re: the essence of something
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Duncan,

Thank you for the well thought out response, that definitely clears things up a bit.

For whatever it is worth I would say I fall somewhere between what you refer to as Center Right and Center Left at this point in my training.

Posted on: 2007/11/6 11:29
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Re: the essence of something
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"Point taken. If it was only a dislike of ed at a personal level - this would matter. I have a fundamental disagreement with his ideas. Unless you can tie Sensei's high regard to Eds statements on this board, I don't really care. AND NEITHER SHOULD ANYONE ELSE."
Since this charge was made let me answer it. The gold medal Dr. Hatsumi gave me was for the video I did, "Self Defense for Everyone". Obviously he felt my movement and taijutsu was up to his standards. I gave him the tape to make certain I hadn't done anything Sensei didn't approve of. His response was to give me his gold medal. He is also quoted in "Understand, Good , Play" as stating that if you buy only one video, buy this one. That you can check on yourself. He also made me the first one awarded his "Oscar" in 2002, which others have said was "instructor of the year" award. All I know was he said it was his "Oscar". Now I do think that is adequate proof of his opinion on my skill level. Now what has this person done to justify and give credence to his constant criticism of my views? He is entitled to his but just continuously denegating mine without any demonstrated or recognized expertise is questionable.

"I want people to think for themselves. Period. I want them to train hard. I want them to consider for a moment that perhaps trying to grasp what someone who has been training for longer than they have been alive may NOT be the wisest choice in the world.{{{{and maybe accepting the ideas of someone who is still without much experience may be just as bad a disaster for you}}}} // I want people to start being CRITICAL of high ranking people (actually - critical of EVERYONE). I want people to look at some of the TOTAL CRAP that is put out there and say... dear God, the emperor has NO clothes. I don't care if you are a go kyu or a jugodan - if what you say makes sense - and you can prove it - then it stands.{{{ agreed, and I CAN!!!} AND IF YOU CAN'T - THEN EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW IT - REGARDLESS OF YOUR PRECIOUS RANK SYSTEM."

These are nice sentiments but how about letting the people choose for themselves what is best for them? I think the most obnoxious part of this is the attitude of "I know what is best" and "everyone must do it the way I say or it isn't any good" If anyone wants to buy into that then go ahead it's your choice. Work on yourself and don't try to tell everyone else how to do it.

Posted on: 2007/11/6 11:48
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Re: the essence of something
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Hmmmm....the political analogy does help order the world but I propose a third way :)

Actually, we are largely the analogs to the Japanese Elvis impersonators who practice and perform in the public parks to reach their dream of eventually making it to the dinner show circuit in Las Vegas.

There are Japanese (mainly men) who find meaning and betterment in their otherwise empty existence by living vicariously through the King of Rock & Roll. They spend untold hours attempting to perfect the right hip twist, the flailing knee, the pouting lip, the just right widow's peak oiled perfect with Vitalis. They train continually among the various strands (eg. the "Hound Dog" or "Jailhouse Rock" growl, the fun and jumpy "Teddy Bear" style, syrup sweet ballads like "Falling in Love with You", the purely commercial "Viva Las Vegas" school and last but not least, the Holiday albums).

Dressage of course is crucial as there are those who opt for the early Ed Sullivan look of the large coat, thin black tie and acoustic guitar, the black leather of the early sixties, the Hawaiian printed shirts and ukelele, and of course, the sequins, rhinestone glasses and sweat stained hankerchief of the later years.

Naturally, such dedication to capture "the essence" of Elvis leads to the inevitable factions. A few intrepid souls journey to the Mississippi Delta and Memphis, TN to embrace the authentic feeling of the southern blues style that inspired such music. Others argue that it's entirely possible to master the right gestures and sounds through careful study and deconstruction of historic films and recordings of Elvis in action. Still others posit that the essence is found in how Elvis channeled his own original style, something to be emulated in spirit but expressed in one's own way. And of course, all rail against the opportunistic, crass commercial vampires who exploit the King's genius for naked profit (eg. Porky Pig's rip-off of "Blue Christmas").

-------------------------------------------------------

Sorry thread readers if I took too much artistic license (actually, early Hatsumi fashion choices gave the King a run for his money) but I'm hoping people see that *how* we're debating is hardly original to Bujinkan or martial arts for that matter. In almost any human activity of import, the struggle to A.)define original intent and B.) capture its essence in a way that replicates or scales inevitably leads to factions, which eventually lead to solidified curriculums that are logically consistent but also far removed from that original intent. How else explain the multitude of Buddhist sects, Christian denominations, esoteric strains of Jewish thought, and different schools of Islam to name a few.

So the BJK ranges from hippies to Ayatollahs with everything in-between. Sounds like it's maturing nicely if you ask me.

DISCLAIMER: In no way am I commenting about BJK fighting techniques vis a vis BJJ/Muay Thai and the like. I'm simply trying to inject a perspective that the *process* through which we are addressing a very important issue, namely what constitutes the "essence" of what Hatsumi is trying to teach (eg. through kata, through feeling, through both) falls into a time-honored human pattern. So let's not get stressed about being unable to "settle" the question of original intent by force of argument or forceful argument. Let's actually tip our hats to both Duncan and Daniel for passionately laying out their best interpretation of original intent and in so doing, provide many of us with more effective navigational aids.

I personally stand centre-left in Duncan's system. But that's after a lot of years on the right wing. And last time I checked, it takes both for the old bird to fly straight instead of in circles.

:)

Posted on: 2007/11/6 12:04
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Re: the essence of something
Kutaki Postmaster
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I really liked your post John.

Quote:

jgauntt wrote:
In almost any human activity of import, the struggle to A.)define original intent and B.) capture its essence in a way that replicates or scales inevitably leads to factions, which eventually lead to solidified curriculums that are logically consistent but also far removed from that original intent. How else explain the multitude of Buddhist sects, Christian denominations, esoteric strains of Jewish thought, and different schools of Islam to name a few.


Hopefully by the end of this thread once we work out out to distill and unify the essence of the Bujinkan we can move on to solve all religious and political difference throughout the world.

Unfortunately, I think this ultimate answer to all the worlds problems may have something to do with Elvis - which I have suspected all along.


Posted on: 2007/11/6 12:20
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Re: the essence of something
Kutaki Postmaster
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Well, we have certainly scratched part of the essence of ninjutsu in this thread... politics, subtle hints, causing organizations to crumble from within, etc etc.....

Goran Gronvold
Norway

Posted on: 2007/11/6 20:58
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Re: the essence of something
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Sounds like evolution to me, maybe thats why Soke doesn't get involved directly.

Posted on: 2007/11/6 22:40
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