Saturday, 12 September 2015

Koryu – Legacies of Learning (by Colin Jowett)

Following Jules Robson and Filip Maric would be a hard ask on a good day.  Let alone being asked to write a follow up piece on Koryu – something that both of the aforementioned gentlemen have a deep passion for, and understanding of. Nevertheless, I foolishly said yes – so here we go.

I’ve been studying Aikido for a little over 15 years now – at least that was the first time I put on a Keikogi.  I’ve had a bit of a hit and miss relationship with my chosen art over the years but I’ve probably been studying in earnest for the last 8 years – give or take.I am also fortunate enough to have somehow stumbled across a Koryu Kenjutsu art along the way.  I first picked up a sword in earnest under the auspices of Kashima Shin-ryu (KSR)  at a small dojo in a renovated church in North London called ‘Moving East’ in the early 00’s (naughties).  I freely admit to not having stayed long at that particular dojo (though not for want of trying), but sometimes life does that to you and things half touched upon somehow find you later. So it is that I have now been fortunate enough to continue my studies in KSR at the Jikishin Dojo Auckland that coincidentally follows the same instruction as Moving East in London, that is, the Kashima-no-Tachi taught by Inaba Minoru Sensei, the former director of the Shiseikan Budojo in Meiji Jingu Tokyo, and his students and successors. 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Koryu Budo (mini-challenge!!) - Ancient arts for modern times? (Jules Robson & Filip Marić, part II)

To follow up on Jules Robsons' take on the topic of Keiko Shokon in part I of this blogpost last week, I will start by saying that I have long struggled with the question what I might learn from Koryu Budo. Whatever the reason, I am generally not very good at being a spectator while other people are moving around, so the entire world of spectator sports has always been pretty much closed to me. Of course I can watch a martial arts movie, but the movement better be quick and involve lots of the 'wham bam thank you mam' stuff that Jules mentioned last or I will get bored very quickly. But even if I don't I just want to get moving and do it myself, which has led to more than one post-martial-arts-movie skill test / altercation with my big brother back in the days and even now drives to punch, kick, grab, jump and so forth whoever is sitting next to me when I am watching a movie that involves any of that.

Anyhow, the point being, watching a Koryu Budo/Bugei demonstration can still be outright painful for me, mentally and physically, even now that I have quite some interest and admiration for them. It usually takes the people presenting about 5 minutes to walk onto the bloody presentation space, then another 5 minutes until the first two people have narrowed down the distance between them to about 3 meters and look at each other for another 2minutes. Then one of them will do some kind of attack to which my brain will say 'pfffffff baaahhhhhh whaaaaat the....???' And this attack will be answered with an even more cryptical something and...  I am looking at the youtube sidebar for something along the lines of 'Jackie Chan best stunts compilation' (which I have been looking at during the first 10minutes of the 'demonstration') aaaannnd see you later Koryu Budo. 

Let's try the following challenge together if you have a few minutes.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Koryu Budo - Ancient arts for modern times? (Jules Robson & Filip Marić, part I)

It is no secret that I am enamoured with the traditional martial arts. I have mentioned this on more than one occasion (e.g. here and and there) before and of course wouldn't be practicing them otherwise. Nonetheless, the question that always comes up in regard to the traditional martial arts and maybe especially with the Japanese Koryu Bugei is: What point is there in practicing them today? Are they, or at least can they be relevant for us today? Simply put, are the ancient traditions relevant for today? And if yes, then how so?

Having recently read the highly recommendable three part series on the Classical Warrior Traditions of Japan edited by Diane Skoss, the term Keiko Shokon came up repeatedly, quintessentially emphasising the importance of asking these questions, and seeking to answers them through practice and study, rather than exclusively the latter. These question and search are actually quite central in my life, be it in my martial practice, my practice as a physiotherapist and Shiatsu practitioner, my philosophy studies, or my (ongoing...) research between all of them. Luckily however, I am far from the only one asking and researching these questions and so I am quite excited to post this two-part blogpost with you that I am sharing with Jules Robson, a good friend and co-conspirator when it comes to Keiko Shokon efforts, though we tread on slightly tangential paths. So without further ado, here is Jules' bit (followed by my two cents worth and a little more about Jules and some other interesting info in part II, which I will post next week): 

Keiko Shokon 
"I still vividly remember the day I first walk onto a tatami almost 30 years ago: