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  • Ancient schools/techniques

    Has anyone here ever given much thought to the schools of kenjutsu that are long since dead? Some of the still existing schools can trace lineage back to the Muromachi period or Eisho period in Japan, but obviously there had to be more. Some styles die out or disappear. Why? Currently my interests lie in trying to resurrect Ganryū. I just don't know exactly how possible this may or may not be, but why not give it a shot? What are your thoughts on why these styles might have died out or what might be done to bring them back and learn from them?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
    Has anyone here ever given much thought to the schools of kenjutsu that are long since dead? Some of the still existing schools can trace lineage back to the Muromachi period or Eisho period in Japan, but obviously there had to be more. Some styles die out or disappear. Why? Currently my interests lie in trying to resurrect Ganryū. I just don't know exactly how possible this may or may not be, but why not give it a shot? What are your thoughts on why these styles might have died out or what might be done to bring them back and learn from them?
    You can't resurrect it. You didn't live back then, so it would be impossible since you don't even know what techniques they used and how they did them. Besides, you have no real training to do so, from what you said in another post.
    So, if I was you, I wouldn't try. It's best to get real training in an art that is still around.

    Kaoru

    Comment


    • #3
      Okee...

      School disappear(ed) for several reasons:
      1. They got whipped out in battle. Plain and simple, if you sucked at it in the "good old days" you died.
      2. Meiji restoration. A huge decline in the interest in JSA.
      3. WOII aftermath, see no. 2 + declared illigal by the US for some time.
      4. The Soke of a ryu refused to appoint a successor or forgot to appoint one on time (usually that means the end of a ryu, not always).
      5. There is simply no one with enough skill to succeed a soke.
      6. Some one decided to nuke them.
      7. etc.

      As you can see, it's not that simple. Loads of factors contributed to the extinction of hundreds (maybe thousands) of ryu. I'm no history buff, so forgive if I forget a couple of factors (the list is endless).

      Also, even though the idea is noble, resurrecting a ryu is impossible. Once extinct they are gone forever. Each ryu had many different ideas, secrets, techniques unique to that ryu. They cannot be recreated, not by studying other arts, books, vids or whatever. They are just gone. It's sad, but that's how it works. Sorry. So no more Ganryū.

      I would advise you to go and find a dojo with an existing ryu, kendo and iaido are also great. Please give that a thought because resurrecting a ryu is like resurrecting the dead, great in movies but impossible in real life.

      Comment


      • #4
        I do understand that fully resurrecting a ryu might be impossible, however it may be possible to find basic techniques which would be an interesting start. To find the roots of Ganryū I can look to Chujo ryū and just keep moving backwards. Though forward is usually a better direction to move. I have nothing against existing ryū though. I would like to learn as many arts as I can. To me there is nothing more important than learning and improving. That is why my interests lie in past styles as well. To learn to use weapons beyond the basic Katana through the use of shinai and bokuto I could learn the use of a kodachi or nodachi. These weapons have their place in various martial arts, but some schools specialize in the use of such weapons. Ganryū = nodachi and Chujo ryū = kodachi. My goal in learning various martial arts has never been to compete or gain titles, but always just to learn. That is why I look into the past.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
          I do understand that fully resurrecting a ryu might be impossible, however it may be possible to find basic techniques which would be an interesting start. To find the roots of Ganryū I can look to Chujo ryū and just keep moving backwards. Though forward is usually a better direction to move. I have nothing against existing ryū though.
          You just don't get it do you. It is not possible, period. Once a ryu is dead, it is DEAD, as in GONE. The techniques indigenous to the ryu are lost forever. Each ryu has it's own characteristics, and the techniques may be similar, but also can be very different at the same time, and some ryu have stuff another will not. And, when a ryu disappears due to any of the ways Mr. T described, it is also GONE. No matter what you think, there is no way to get a ryu like that, back. Also, you have no legitimate training in any JSA, so that's a good reason right there, not to bother. You won't know one thing from another.

          And, did you even read Mr. T's post? He made it clear why it is not possible, more so than I did.

          I would like to learn as many arts as I can.
          This is the worst thing you can do. When you try to learn too many you will never be able to become good at any. And, you can't self-teach yourself stuff either. You need to pick just one or two arts and focus on them and train in a real dojo and actually work hard and get decent at them.

          There's a saying... "Jack of all trades and master of none." It means a person is not very good at any of the many things one gets their hands into, and it is better to pick just one or two things to learn and get good at instead. That's what happens when you spread yourself too thin. You become this.

          To me there is nothing more important than learning and improving.
          This is true when you are training under a qualified sensei. If not, it is a waste of your time.

          That is why my interests lie in past styles as well.
          You can have an interest in them all you want, as long as you don't go into some fantasy world where you think you can resurrect them and practice them. All you can do is read about them. Sorry.

          To learn to use weapons beyond the basic Katana through the use of shinai and bokuto I could learn the use of a kodachi or nodachi. These weapons have their place in various martial arts, but some schools specialize in the use of such weapons. Ganryū = nodachi and Chujo ryū = kodachi. My goal in learning various martial arts has never been to compete or gain titles, but always just to learn. That is why I look into the past.
          I think you need to join a real dojo so you can become grounded and realise what these arts really are.

          You'll find very quickly that they are a lot harder than you think and they are more complicated, too. And, you'll find out fast that it will take you a life-time just to become half-way decent at just one art.

          Kaoru

          Comment


          • #6
            Although I really don't need (or at least I shouldn't have to) repeat myself and kaoru, here we go... again.

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            I do understand that fully resurrecting a ryu might be impossible, however it may be possible to find basic techniques which would be an interesting start.
            No, it's not possible. It's gone. You cannot recreate something if you do not know what it looks like. Which is the case here. Martial arts evolve, this includes JSA. Swordsmanship today looks very different from the pre Meiji or even pre WWII or even a generation ago. There is nothing to go back to.

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            To find the roots of Ganryū I can look to Chujo ryū and just keep moving backwards.
            I wish it was that simple. But it doesn't work that way. You cannot move backwards because you don't know what it looked like even a generation ago (you weren’t born back then).

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            Though forward is usually a better direction to move.
            Movement, in this case, is always forward. It's called evolution. JSA evolve.

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            I would like to learn as many arts as I can. To me there is nothing more important than learning and improving.
            This means that you will know very little about a lot of things. It will also mean that you will probably won't know enough about any subject to be able to really understand it. At some point you need to make choices and specialize. If you don't understand, wait until college or uni, trust me, then you'll get it what I'm talking about.

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            To learn to use weapons beyond the basic Katana through the use of shinai and bokuto I could learn the use of a kodachi or nodachi. These weapons have their place in various martial arts, but some schools specialize in the use of such weapons.
            There is a good reason for that. You need to specialize at some point to (fully) understand it. Once you've done that, and there is some time left, you might add another "art form". (BTW the katana is anything but "basic")

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            My goal in learning various martial arts has never been to compete or gain titles, but always just to learn.
            Good for you. But understand, you can only learn something if you are willing to take the time to really study it. By hopping from 1 martial art to the next you'll never understand the martial arts you've studied.

            Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
            That is why I look into the past.
            You're looking way to much in the past. Let extinct martial arts stay extinct. They ended up like that for a reason. They'll never return, never. Get yourself into a kendo, iaido and (maybe if you're lucky, 'cause they are rare) a kenjutsu dojo and enjoy. You're only 14, it's not your job to bring back dead arts, it's a waste of time. If you keep trying, at some point in your life you’ll realize that you wasted so much time on getting something back from extinction that cannot be brought back.(damn I sound like some old fart ) Do something useful and/or fun: kendo, basketball, chess, whatever rocks your boat, but trying to resurrect a JSA is not useful. Once a JSA is gone, it's gone. Sorry.
            Last edited by Mr. T.; 2nd June 2008, 06:43 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Curious how would you go about learning Ganryū? Are there old sources out there that describe it's kata? Wood block prints? Anything? If you have something, or know were they are please let me know, I'd love to have a look see.

              I understand what you're trying to do, I really do, I love history myself, but as everyone else has stated, what you want to do just isn't really possible.

              I've been a student of MJER for 9 years and MSR Jodo for 9 years, I've done some Tanjo and some Niten, and honestly? I barely have a clue. I'm going to be just a student for the next 40 years.

              The best you can hope for is to learn a sword art, from a good teacher, and then assuming some old source information exists on Ganryū, you might be able to see what they were getting at. But by that time, you'll realize that its all the same.

              Don't collect kata, don't collect schools, everybody does it to some extent, but again, in the end? Its all the same. There are no secret teachings. Once you've been practicing for some years, you can pick up kata pretty quickly. I could make a kata up, but why would I? The 60 or 70 I know would provide me with the answer to any situation.

              Best of luck.

              Comment


              • #8
                What's wrong with all the real, extant kenjutsu ryuha? Frankly, this is no different from the anime freaks who try to teach themselves Ruroni Kenshin's style from comics. In fact, it's a step down from that because at least they have something to work from, even if it's a fictional comic book.

                Don't waste your time making crap up. Study an extant Japanese sword art for a while and you'll soon realise that what you're proposing is impossible and pointless. Learning an existing sword art is hard enough, let along trying to learn a non-existent one.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ken Morgan View Post
                  Curious how would you go about learning Ganryū? Are there old sources out there that describe it's kata? Wood block prints? Anything? If you have something, or know were they are please let me know, I'd love to have a look see.
                  Seconded.

                  Even with documentation it's going to be tough to get it right; easy to get things wrong. For example, I read Go Rin No Sho (五輪書) in my youth (okay, I read a translation). Last year I went to the HyoHo Niten Ichiryu Seminar in Calgary. There's no way I could have recreated the actual practice with only the book and some exposure to iaido.

                  And why would one want to resurrect an extinct school anyway? There are plenty of living schools to learn from, and sooner or later you'll get everything from them that you would have expected to find in some obscure (because nobody practices it anymore) old school. Here's an article from Kim Taylor talking about why rare isn't necessarily better.

                  Allan
                  Nonetheless, the mystique of antiquities gnaws at me ...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
                    I would like to learn as many arts as I can.
                    Congratulations on choosing a path of mediocrity. I suggest you take the next left and choose one thing and study it intently before moving onto something else. I am currently involved in four arts and it is a sodding nightmare to study them all to the same intensity level.

                    Originally posted by Kojiro1518 View Post
                    Currently my interests lie in trying to resurrect Ganryū.
                    An interesting (albeit impossible) idea. How far have you got?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ScottUK View Post
                      Congratulations on choosing a path of mediocrity. I suggest you take the next left and choose one thing and study it intently before moving onto something else. I am currently involved in four arts and it is a sodding nightmare to study them all to the same intensity level.
                      seconded.

                      Even though I love every art I do I have still prioritized them. We don't have the "luxury" of being paid soldiers who must learn all these wonderful things.

                      As for resurecting an extinct art....good luck and be sure to post your results on youtube.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        There are some good points on here, and I agree with everything said so far. Here is another perspective:
                        I practice Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu. After 27 years I feel I have some understanding and a certain breadth of knowledge of the kata. I recently was instructing a seminar at which some students, also students of the MJER attended, but they had a teacher I'd not heard of. They were obviously doing the same kata, but the style was very different. After some discussion we discovered that 4 generations of teachers back, the 2 styles descended from the same source. That's only 4 generations back and already they are considerably different in style. I also look on You Tube and (amongst the competent videos!) I see other variations, also of MJER. How, then, without video evidence could I or someone like me, determine how those kata were performed 100 years ago by the then headmaster, or how that related to the performances a generation before that, and so on.

                        So we get back to the founder, who was about the same time as Ganryu, and we have 3 main lines descended from that time (MSR, MJER and jushin Ryu), and within each of those a whole spectrum of styles, yet we have no way of knowing how the kata were performed 100 years ago, let alone 400 years ago, and that is with a style that hasn't died out.

                        What hope do you have for a style that died out 400 years ago?

                        You would have as much luck trying to resurect the language of a south american tribe that was exterminated by the Spanish invaders at about that same time and who had no written language.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Exactly, you have to priotize which arts you do! 2nd most of the source material you will be using and reading from is Japanese,(Some of which will be very old with meanings nuonces that you are not familar with) 3rd its a very specialized field!
                          4th most people concentrate on koryu that is still being passed on or gendai forms that are taught by experienced and capable instructors! Not everyone has what it takes, time, knowledge, etc to be para trooper, or elite military unit! Same with this. Do you want a sniper trying to clear a minefield or a medic to be one that has to take the 1 shot 1 kill on a mission? 5th, in my opinion its much better to try and learn from those that are experienced here in Japan and in other countries. I am very fortunate to have the guidance of 7th and 8th dan Iaidoka teaching me koryu and sharing advice on how to improve and increase my knowldege of the art! This you will not get from trying to ressurect a dead school that does not have any practioners living still! Anyways good luck, in my opinion your better off studying a current living koryu school. Plus most koryu do include kodachi kata in there circulum!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ookami7 View Post
                            This you will not get from trying to ressurect a dead school that does not have any practioners living still!
                            Another thing to keep in mind with "recreation".
                            A few years back a certain Japanese individual recreated the extinct grappling portion of a certain ryu that died out 60 some years odd years ago. While he has had some media "success" in publications and such, no serious practitioner I have met here has ever had anything good to say about him, with opinions ranging from "amusing" and "childish" to downright disdain. Recreation only has a prayer of being somehow meaningful in the context it was originally intended when it is carried out by highly experienced practitioners of arts that have direct connections to the material that has been lost. Anything thing else, while possibly being an interesting exercise, is meaningless as being somehow representative of the original lost material and, as a bonus, is a sure-fire way to get yourself looked down upon by the majority of serious practitioners out there.

                            For what it's worth,
                            Rennis Buchner

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ScottUK View Post
                              Congratulations on choosing a path of mediocrity. I suggest you take the next left and choose one thing and study it intently before moving onto something else. I am currently involved in four arts and it is a sodding nightmare to study them all to the same intensity level.

                              An interesting (albeit impossible) idea. How far have you got?
                              Undoubtedly he has flicked through the pages of "Musashi" by Yoshikawa Eiji. Maybe he's even got as far as watching the trilogy of films! Tsubame gaeshi!

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