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Starting Nito-Ryu after Chūdan?

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  • Starting Nito-Ryu after Chūdan?

    Is it too early for a Beginner to want to learn Nito-Ryu after Learning mainly Chūdan. I'm mainly wondering because I would like to learn Nito-Ryu because of the Movement's and using two Shinai. Problem is though at my Dojo I have no Sensei's that teach Nito-Ryu. So would it be Possible for me to learn online or Offhand?

  • #2
    There was a fellow here, by the nick-name of JRS, who began training in nitou quite early due to an injury. You could ask him how it went, though I don't think he visits this forum any more… Anyway, check out his post history and see what advice he gave others before. If you want more, there's a sliver of a chance that Neil Gendzwill-sensei can contact him somehow.

    Now, if you don't have an injury, well… I detest having to ask this, but… are you popular enough to be different?

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    • #3
      Beginners being discouraged from nito or jodan isn't mainly about conformity (though there is some of that). It is because the fundamentals aren't sufficiently developed enough that taking up those kamae will be beneficial for the practitioner unless it's a question of injury (no other way to practice). IIRC Musashi-kai generally do not recommend taking up nito until at least 4dan.

      It's a bit like some starting one's career in skateboarding and wanting to pull 540s without first having learned to ollie.

      Anyway, anyone who wants do go down the nito (and jodan) path has to be ready to put in an incredible amount of work and research as instruction is rare even in Japan.

      And as I would argue, that research and work takes place already in chudan. It's a disservice to oneself to think chudan is too uncool to benefit from.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by dillon View Post
        Beginners being discouraged from nito or jodan isn't mainly about conformity (though there is some of that). It is because the fundamentals aren't sufficiently developed enough that taking up those kamae will be beneficial for the practitioner unless it's a question of injury (no other way to practice). IIRC Musashi-kai generally do not recommend taking up nito until at least 4dan.

        It's a bit like some starting one's career in skateboarding and wanting to pull 540s without first having learned to ollie.

        Anyway, anyone who wants do go down the nito (and jodan) path has to be ready to put in an incredible amount of work and research as instruction is rare even in Japan.

        And as I would argue, that research and work takes place already in chudan. It's a disservice to oneself to think chudan is too uncool to benefit from.
        I agree that there are good reasons to discourage beginners from trying nitou. However, inexperience goes away with practice, whereas a stifling doujou culture does not; hence why I began with the latter.

        That said, I don't think your skateboarding parallel is apt. It is possible to begin nitou quite early (again, JRS is exhibit A) if one abandons ittou, but it is not possible to pull a 540 before managing an ollie. A more apt parallel, I think, is the difference between driving an automatic transmission and driving a manual transmission.

        Anyway, ThatPandur, I forgot to ask: How much experience do you have so far?

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        • #5
          So I'll try to give a more immediate idea for how to study nito other than "wait until 4dan" (which one really should heed). Outside of living in Tokyo or having an experienced nito sensei near you, look for a seminar held by Musashi Kai. They often do traveling seminars specifically to give people a taste of nito.

          Here is their website, which strangely puts up a login barrier to the English pages:
          http://musashikai.jp/

          And you can read about someone's experience visiting Musashi Kai in Tokyo:
          http://www.kendo-world.com/forum/for...ng-musashi-kai

          Comment


          • #6
            Kendo has a strongly Japanese (conformist) culture. Japan also has a strong gatekeeping culture. Kendo can be way more strict than koryu in terms of heirarchal organizational structure.

            What's more, I sometimes think Westerners get too caught up in this and many become more Japanese than the Japanese.

            If one doesn't like this sort of culture what can one do? It comes with the territory. It's a part of kendo. One could always take up skateboarding where being a rebel is the accepted norm.

            But I don't see it as a question of either or. While in the West, I appreciated the rigor in kendo where other parts of my life is chaotic and a free for all. Kendo satisfies certain things, skateboarding satisifies other things.

            And if you want really bad heirarchy and conformity, try being a salaryman. Japanese companies are structured like kendo organizations (with promotion exams too) but often the relationship is disciplinary rather than developmental. At least in kendo the vast majority of sensei are looking out for their students rather than worrying about how their underling staff are a drain on their P&L.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by dillon View Post
              If one doesn't like this sort of culture what can one do? It comes with the territory. It's a part of kendo.
              That's not the philosophy to which I subscribe. My beliefs would be the following:

              Originally posted by dillon View Post
              However, in the West there is no need for kendo to teach people how to navigate Japanese societal norms other than maybe how to stay on the good side of a visiting high ranking sensei. It is not an aim of kendo to make Westerners more subservient in their social interactions.
              Anyway, just in case OP comes back again: While a Musashi-kai seminar would be the best option, it might not be possible or feasible. In that case, there's also the option of cross-training in other sword arts, eg iaidou/HEMA/koryuu or even Olympic fencing. Mulling over the differences and similarities between those might help illuminate some questions about nitou. It worked for me; your mileage may vary.

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              • #8
                My two comments are not incompatible. Kendo does not need to teach Westerners how to navigate Japanese social norms (and that statement was in the context of my explanation that in Japan it does have that extra aim), but the fact is the world is interconnected and the people who teach kendo/budo learn very Japanese methodologies for transmission (and as I said, sometimes go overboard). It's impossible to be free of this if one wants to learn legitimate kendo.

                The fact of the matter is, kendo is a social endeavor. It can only be practiced against others so like it or not, for better or worse, you have to put up with other people and the cultural background and resultant effects from which kendo comes from. Heck, I would find it impossible to practice iaido alone even though the kata are solo. Without my sensei giving me feedback, my movements corrupt over time. Do I wish he would teach me more chuden and okuden instead of constantly correcting my kirioroshi like I've only been practicing iaido for several months instead of several years? You bet. But I trust him and want to learn from him so I have to accept how he teaches me. If I wander off I will only damage my own progress (this has happened before when I had to spend several months away and could only practice on my own).

                Anyway, I've tried to bring nuance and context to this issue of cultural conformity in kendo but I'm detecting confirmation bias. I'm not really pleased with how some things I said are being used selectively. In any case, none of this helps the OP. We gave him some advice on how to find legitimate information so that's really all we should be doing. Personal baggage is boring and unhelpful (mine are for sure).

                Comment


                • #9
                  Seems I'm a bit late to this party, hopefully not too late.

                  I will never claim to be an expert in anything kendo related - but I am always happy to relate my own experience, if there's a chance that they will help a fellow kendo enthusiast!

                  If you are serious about learning nito, I would say that your best path is to attend next year's nito seminar hosted by Stroud Sensei. The sensei that they bring in from Japan are incredible kendoka, both with one or two swords. They teach nito to kyu and dan levels, and I can honestly say it is an amazing experience - This year was my sixth time attending, and I don't see an end in sight.

                  If you can afford it, I recommend this as the best way to start nito as a beginner (or otherwise). You will get good instruction, good theory, and get to meet a large number of people who share your interest and passion in nito kendo.




                  To answer your real question, is it possible to learn without a nito sensei - in all honesty that depends a lot on your situation and your determination to do it.

                  I think it is possible, many of the nito sensei are self taught, building their nito off of the basics of their itto.
                  I think it is very difficult, there are a lot of really bad nito players out there

                  With or without an instructor for nito, you will likely require the support of your sensei. Theorizing on your own is not enough to "learn" nito, you need to practice and experiment.
                  Having an experienced set of eyes to tell you when you're twisted, or hunched, or exhibiting any other number of bad postures is also really helpful.

                  A few last considerations:

                  You will wear a target on your back
                  For better or worse, being one of a very small group of nito players in the world, you will very likely set the tone for the reception of nito in your area.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JRS View Post
                    Seems I'm a bit late to this party, hopefully not too late.

                    I will never claim to be an expert in anything kendo related - but I am always happy to relate my own experience, if there's a chance that they will help a fellow kendo enthusiast!

                    If you are serious about learning nito, I would say that your best path is to attend next year's nito seminar hosted by Stroud Sensei. The sensei that they bring in from Japan are incredible kendoka, both with one or two swords. They teach nito to kyu and dan levels, and I can honestly say it is an amazing experience - This year was my sixth time attending, and I don't see an end in sight.

                    If you can afford it, I recommend this as the best way to start nito as a beginner (or otherwise). You will get good instruction, good theory, and get to meet a large number of people who share your interest and passion in nito kendo.




                    To answer your real question, is it possible to learn without a nito sensei - in all honesty that depends a lot on your situation and your determination to do it.

                    I think it is possible, many of the nito sensei are self taught, building their nito off of the basics of their itto.
                    I think it is very difficult, there are a lot of really bad nito players out there

                    With or without an instructor for nito, you will likely require the support of your sensei. Theorizing on your own is not enough to "learn" nito, you need to practice and experiment.
                    Having an experienced set of eyes to tell you when you're twisted, or hunched, or exhibiting any other number of bad postures is also really helpful.

                    A few last considerations:

                    You will wear a target on your back
                    For better or worse, being one of a very small group of nito players in the world, you will very likely set the tone for the reception of nito in your area.

                    Thank you for this Answer but I doubt I'll be able to attend a Nito Seminar. If I can Than that would be great. My real and honest question was if it was possible. I mainly an asking because of the different movement style to Nito. I will however research and study nito and Jodan. But thank you all for your Answers.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      There's a saying in kendo (my translation of what I heard in Japanese):

                      Cut with your feet, not your hands.
                      Cut with your core (tanren) not with your feet.
                      Cut with heart not with your core.

                      This applies as well to other Japanese martial arts, be it iaido, jodo, gendai or koryu, empty handed or weapons arts.

                      Looking at jodan and nito and wanting to learn the things that are superficially different involving hands is often a distraction from learning the common base of all kamae: cutting with one's core on physical side and pyschological dominance (cutting with the heart) on the mental side. Lacking these base one struggles with kendo no matter what the kamae. Unfortunately, until these things "click" it's very difficult to even understand what they are (and it's a lot of work to get there). That is why if one wants to learn nito or jodan, one would do well to start by learning the common base in chudan. From that, one can study what is fundamentally different, not superficially different, about jodan or nito.

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