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Ryu-ha or not so much?
Village Old Timer
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When I was clearing the soccer talk from the board I thought of a question I was wondering about.

How important do you think training in the specific Ryu-ha is in the Bujinkan? I have trained with teachers on both sides of the extreme. Some of my favorite have no interest in what is taught in which school. Others make a greater point of following through each school when teaching.

We have used the ryu as themes over the years. Is that what has driven the attention? Certainly more recently there is a race for certain teachers to put out their videos of the years theme (often without ever going see what Soke is doing with it).

I confess part of me can trend toward being a little bit of a kata collector (only a little bit).

What do you think?

Marty

Posted on: 2014/5/24 10:23
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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no really, I have this question.

Posted on: 2014/5/24 17:25
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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I see that everything we have comes from the different schools, so... yes, they are important. If for nothing else but a atarting point for your Shu-Ha-Ri studycycle.

Also I've come to see that learning atleast something from the schools way of doing things tends to help one do the forms of the schools.

Posted on: 2014/5/24 20:03
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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The simplest way to put it would be to say that without the individual ryu-ha, there is no Bujinkan. Anyone claiming to be dismissive about the individual ryu-ha obviously doesn’t understand that. Thanks to the ubiquitousness of the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki, among other things, many instructors and students in the Bujinkan are perpetually laboring under the misapprehension that it is possible to understand what lessons an individual ryu-ha has to convey simply by cherry picking a few kata from it. The kata of each ryu-ha are not a collection of disparate techniques. They are inextricably interconnected. They are the language by which the culture of the ryu-ha can be communicated.

Everyone is aware by now that Hatsumi-sensei went through an evolutionary period in regards to how he taught his Japanese students. Some people are mistakenly assuming that there is a clear distinction between the training that is conducted now and the “good old days”. At first, Hatsumi-sensei apparently took great pains to drill the basics into his students. It was only later that the individual ryu-ha were taught in a more organized manner. But they were taught. It’s the only way to effectively learn what each ryu-ha has to teach. If a practitioner is not familiar with this way of learning, they obviously can’t have any idea what the ryu-ha are really all about, much less how the kata fit into them, and thereby deaf to the information that the kata are communicating. This way of learning is de rigueur for the transmission of most koryu. So the idea that I can actually understand renyo from Gyokko-ryu, for example, without first understanding koku is ridiculous. Seion from Kukishin-ryu IS Kukishin-ryu. It’s the key that will unlock all the doors leading to everything Kukishin-ryu has to inform me about. And the only way I can hope to truly understand seion is by learning how to practice it from someone who knows how to practice it….correctly. This obviously would mean apprenticing under and developing a personal relationship with one of Hatsumi-sensei’s original Japanese students.

Many people claim that, for varying reasons, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu encompasses all that each individual ryu-ha has to convey while simultaneously providing methodology to circumvent the learning process necessary to effectively understanding each individual ryu-ha. And since the Bujinkan is an organization that has no criterion for the advancement of its students’ skill and knowledge, and has no requirements for individuals wishing to become instructors and teach, this preposterous fallacy has been inevitably foisted as truth. If all I have to do to “learn” Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu is practice bits and pieces of the Tenchijin Ryaku no Maki, and all I have to do to become a “licensed” instructor is kneel in front of a total stranger holding a shinai, what incentive would I have to opening my eyes to the fact that even one individual ryu-ha is potentially a lifetime of study and assimilation? Why would I even think of the kata in any given ryu-ha as anything other than “techniques” to be collected and checklisted?

It’s a hard truth for some people to swallow. They simply refuse to accept it and end up going through the motions of “learning” many kata over and over, all the while sustaining a complete lack of awareness that the kata are actually meant to be learned as part and parcel of a specific ryu-ha.

Posted on: 2014/5/25 18:45
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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The study of the ryu has become one of my favorite aspects of training now. I trained in other martial arts before the Bujinkan and competed and sparred a lot and built a name and reputation for myself at that time when I was younger. I enjoy learning the waza from the individual ryuha, and learning them from good teachers who understand them and train with Japanese Shihan regularly. I myself have not yet been to Japan, but I plan on changing that this year. Anyway, for me it has become one of the driving forces for my continued training in martial arts as a whole, not just the Bujinkan.

Posted on: 2014/5/27 13:12
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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Well Kuma I can't say that I am surprised that you would feel this way. You have an uncanny way of seeing complete absolutes in things that I see far more variation in.

There are many reasons why people train in martial arts in general. It changes over time and most often people tran for many reasons at the same time. Soke has directed people to study different aspects of the art at different times in their training.

Over the years there has been alot of variability in how Soke has taught the Kata of the different schools. There is a lot of variability in how the different Japanese Shihan teach the kata. Personally I think Soke is okay with the different variations as long as they transmit a specific aspct of the kata.

I don't want to sound like I disagree with you completely, I do agree it is important to look at how and why the schools present the kata in the order that they do. There are also accepitable other ways to investigate and learn about them.

I did not expect anyone to say that the ryu were not important. I though some would be more bold to say that there were other aspects to our art that go beyond the Ryu and are also important to study. I don't forsee a time in which I will ever complete my study of our art.

Marty

Posted on: 2014/5/27 19:10
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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Quote:

mrdunsky wrote:

I don't foresee a time in which I will ever complete my study of our art.




In this respect at least we are in complete agreement. I feel exactly the same way about my own study.

Posted on: 2014/5/27 19:40
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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Well gentlemen, on that issue we do all agree! I do not see a time when I will not also still be learning this art! It is so huge in its scope and so adaptable to any situation that continued study and learning are a given.
On the opinion on the kata and the different ryu ha we may feel a bit differently. I look at kata as having only one purpose, that of transmitting in a visual active manner a basic and important principle of movement. I see our art as principle based, it is NOT just a collection of kata to be learned and catalogued. I don't agree with either kata or technique collection and memorization. What I do think is primary is that we understand the principle upon which that kata or movement is based. When we understand those basic principles we have the tools to adapt to any situation. That is what I feel is important. We need to reach the point where there are a thousand changes and we get no surprises. We just adapt to what is needed and can do this because those basic principles of movement are as ingrained, so natural to us that we just 'do it'. The term muscle memory is as close as I can come to describing what I mean.
My first trip to Japan was January 1988 and I went three years in a row before medical situations caused a break until 1995 and since that time I have gone every year for about 10 days of training and most years a second trip for the Daikomyosai until that was ended. Each time I get more insights which do change as time goes on, but what is really important to me now is what Dr Hatsumi is saying. What he does is just proof of the value of his words.

Posted on: 2014/5/27 23:04
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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For me the Ryu-ha are like the basics of an apprenticeship. This gives you the exposure to so many different themes, ideas and principles that ultimately lead to a more rounded perspective on life. So that when you become the so-called "Journeyman" you have at your disposal so many options (Keys) to understand the nature of things around you.
I think I realised this on my last trip to Japan, when learning swordwork from one of the Shiahan. However, it was not that I realised how much I knew, but totally the opposite-how much I didn't.
Without the correct exposure to the framework via practicing the Waza from each Ryu-I saw how many gaps there were in my Taijutsu etc. Not to mention that there is a chronological history of combat in each of the different Ryu. After all, with the emphasis on survival, each Ryu provides and historical account of how to defend oneself at different times in history-I believe this is what Soke is saying when he refers to the 4th dimension of time. This then keys into understanding the timing and rhythm of any combat situation and to life itself.

Posted on: 2014/5/28 4:39
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Re: Ryu-ha or not so much?
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Quote:

Papa-san wrote:
Well gentlemen, on that issue we do all agree! I do not see a time when I will not also still be learning this art! It is so huge in its scope and so adaptable to any situation that continued study and learning are a given.


On this I'm sure everyone agrees, maybe even those that quit, as it might seem a bit overwhelming with no end in sight.

Quote:

Papa-san wrote:
I look at kata as having only one purpose, that of transmitting in a visual active manner a basic and important principle of movement.


Make that multiple in a Kata and I agree.

Quote:

Papa-san wrote:
I see our art as principle based, it is NOT just a collection of kata to be learned and catalogued. I don't agree with either kata or technique collection and memorization.


Again, agree. The outer form of any Kata is the beginning, the crude way, or the worst way (or a question instead of an answer as it's been described). And even in Japan we see teachers taking out their Densho and read the form from there (and then do it different from last time ).

Quote:

Papa-san wrote:
What I do think is primary is that we understand the principle upon which that kata or movement is based.


And that has been inserted in the form, to let us learn it in a manageable manner, I'd say. Though, there is the danger of getting lost in the woods (kata) for all the trees (waza) that we see... Or get lost in the school for all the Kata we see...

Quote:

Papa-san wrote:
When we understand those basic principles we have the tools to adapt to any situation. That is what I feel is important. We need to reach the point where there are a thousand changes and we get no surprises. We just adapt to what is needed and can do this because those basic principles of movement are as ingrained, so natural to us that we just 'do it'. The term muscle memory is as close as I can come to describing what I mean.


This is what I see the forms teaching, especially if you look at a school; they teach more "many ways of doing few things" than "few ways of doing many things". The same things are repeated over and over, driving these into the spine, where they can then emerge upon need of the situation.

And, as we already have these forms kindly gathered by generations past we don't need to come up with new ways to start teaching those points. Though, as we move along we may come accross additional ways to drive those points in...

Until finally we are able to do what is needed, "take" the Waza out of our repertoire, catch the moment and give the Uke what they ask for.

Learn... study... integrate...

Posted on: 2014/5/28 18:52
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