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To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Greetings! In my study of Gyokko Ryu, I have found interesting what is interpreted as the "9 rules of the Gyokko Ryu". Of particular interest is the one that says something along the lines of "destroy the enemy's power but spare his life".

I do not know the exact Japanese phrase or what differing interpretations of this are (English versions don't always capture the real message), but I wonder how prominent this played and continues to play in how Soke or the other Shihan teach? Historically, did this come from a kind of Buddhist or karmic type of spirituality, where preserving life is a paramount thing because of the repercussions involved?

Would this mean taking the lethality out of a technique, or just that you aren't actively killing your attacker? Would this entail actually taking actions to protect the life of your attacker? If the attacker ends up being at a point where they will die if they continue, does this put the responsibility in their hands and free you from this rule (i.e. you are not "killing" them, they just die from their actions)?

I don't know if anybody will be able to answer these from a ryuha point of view, but I would like to get any input from those who have seen or heard these things from Soke or the Shihan. At minimum, maybe some interesting discussion will eminate from this...

Or, maybe this will just fade into the abysmal of "go nowhere" threads...

Cheers!

Posted on: 2006/5/31 3:57
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Darren,

I certainly have no real knowledge in this area, so let me preface this comment by stating that it is my opinion only and that I have no real basis for it. So, if it's incorrect, I hope that everyone won't jump all over me.

That being said, I have heard that Gyokko Ryu has strong origins in China. I also know that Sun Tzu's "Art of War" was well known in Japan.

I can't help but wonder if Gyokko Ryu didn't in some way borrow conceptually from the core strategic concepts of "taking whole" found in the Art of War.

Quote:

Sun Tzu, The Denma Translation Group
http://www.creativeresistance.ca/tool ... -tzu-strategic-vision.htm

In this complex and essentially uncontrollable world, the ultimate outcome of present actions is not predictable. The enemy of today may be a friend tomorrow. The sage commander seeks a victory that is ongoing. Taking whole allows him to preserve the possibilities-to keep every option open.

Taking whole means conquering the enemy in a way that keeps as much intact as possible-both your own resources and those of the enemy. Such a victory leaves something available to build upon, for both you and your former foe. Destruction leaves nothing, and its aftermath diverts valuable energy from the larger victory.

Posted on: 2006/5/31 4:50
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Im paraphrasing, but somewhere in Understand, Good, Play, Soke says something along the lines about when your opponent attacks you, he is commiting suicide. I think you've got some interesting questions. Maybe this is one of those instances where different scenarios equal in different results. I know if someone was attacking me, I would do my best to simply evade or keep them from hurting themselves. However, if they attacked my family or loved ones, I would end them as quickly as possible. Its always been my understanding that on the battlefield (Feudal Japan), you dont leave survivors. Because then they carry home new knowledge. But you gotta keep a few of them alive so we got some uke!

Posted on: 2006/5/31 5:07
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Thanks guys for your input so far. I know my own personal life value would dictate how and when I would "allow" someone to die and would probably work like crazy to keep them alive if I used a method of deadly force.

And, I would hope that real warriors of virtue would have respect for life as the top priority - unless that priority is compromised through the immediate threat of danger. So, I don't think the base concept is an earth shattering revelation in itself. But I am interested from a ryuha point of view how these things are/were handled.

Please share any input, especially relating to lessons from Soke and the Shihan as part of current Bujinkan training.

Thank you!

Posted on: 2006/5/31 5:23
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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I believe the proverb in question may come from the saying that goes:

If the enemy cuts your skin, cut his flesh.
If he cuts your flesh, cut his bone.
If he cuts your bone, take his life.

... or something to that effect.

The meaning of it is that you should do no more than necessary. This includes aspects of not only efficiency, but also of restraint ('nin') and minimalism.

Shawn

Posted on: 2006/5/31 6:00
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Hi

Bare in mind that I am just a nobody, and my input is not from Soke or any shihan.

However, looking from a strategic point of view and where the scenario is a battlefield, leaving the enemy wounded may have multiple advantages:
- They be screaming alot which may demoralize their fellow soldiers
- Their friends will probably put down arms and try to aid them, so you really take out more men by wounding one, rather than killing one.

Yes, I know this sounds very coldhearted... but considering a war, and survivial, it may be a neccesity. And this is a tactic used in other wars...

But indeed as the original poster was pointing out - it would be nice to know the japanese text and how accurate the translation is....

Forgive my more or less poor english.

*Edited for typos*

Sincerely,
Goran Gronvold

Posted on: 2006/5/31 17:01
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Hi Gorang

Further to your post, from a military resource point of view (not that I have ever been in the military), I would imagine it would take resources of personnel, money and supplies to keep the injured soldier alive and then ultimately return them to the front line. Further depleting your enemy.

I would assume that the injuries not resulting in death are also serious enough to make him/her incapable of harming you or your allies.

Greg

Posted on: 2006/5/31 19:02
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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There is a basic instinct instilled in humans, that of protecting life. This (IMO) becomes very strong in the protection of your family, friends, and self but also extends to all humans. A friend who has cause to KNOW told me one time that "you will NEVER forget anyone you've killed". "The only way you can live with it is if you know you had no other choice". I think that this is important to understand. There is nothing glorious about taking a life, it may be necessary, but the regret will be there. Harming another may also be necessary, but is not something lightly chosen. Our art permits us to use the level needed to end the threat to our well-being and that of our family, friends, etc. If a person attacks you, by that action they have demonstrated their willingness to violate the basic instinct of humankind and so remove themselves from the basic protections of human instincts ---- that of not harming others. In such a circumstance we train so they don't get the opportunity to make another attack. These are not contests! They attack, we finish it ---- with whatever level is required to insure another attack can't come. The natural movement Sensei is showing is the key to our ability to "finish" it as it is almost impossible to stop something that you don't know is coming and that comes as a complete surprise. Anyway those are only my thoughts on this, for whatever value they have.
Ed Martin aka Papa-san

Posted on: 2006/5/31 23:01
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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Goran,

Great post! Consider that a battle of morale may not have an end. The battle may be concluded as sides go home and tend their wounded, though revenge brews in their hearts. Which will once again explode on a battlefield.

Perhaps this is only one side of the coin.

Posted on: 2006/6/1 0:40
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Re: To kill or not to kill - Gyokko Ryu
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I was pondering everybody's thoughts this morning and, even though they are all very personal, sparked some thoughts on my end.

I do know from a soldier's point of view one soldier killed is one soldier removed from a unit. One soldier wounded takes 4 soldiers removed from a unit (1 wounded, 2 to carry, 1 to treat wounds).

Also, you can completely disable an enemy (temporary or permanent) but still leave enough for them to live. This will enable you to gather intelligence from them and they will not be an immediate threat to you. Plus, you can give false intelligence to a wounded soldier and leave him for his comrades, where he will share the faulty information with them. Then, there's the practice of booby trapping a wounded soldier...

I don't want to go into too much more on this, so I will stop here.

But, on a human level, Ed is right. You will NEVER forget the death of your enemy and only an insane person would take any kind of pleasure from it. However, I think that in our training, lethal moves in a technique are good for 3 reasons:

1. It's there if you really, really, really need it.
2. It's important to know where the lethality in a technique lies - it's not just action, it's an effect too. And you are ultimately responsible for that effect.
3. To badly attempt to quote Soke - "to defeat a killer, you must think like a killer". Thinking and acting are not the same thing. But, knowing where the "killing" exists in what you do is important, whether or not you actually employ it.

Of course, you will temper your true actions according to the situation, based on your own life value. It's the difference between being a warrior and a murderer.

Posted on: 2006/6/1 1:30
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