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carla valverde
07-22-2006, 03:11 PM
What does this term refers exactly to? What are the caracteristics of a "tradicional martial art"? Does that still exists today? Japane are usually are very protective what concerns to traditional arts, considering teaching methods and everything. What makes you consider a martial art as "traditional"?

Ellis Amdur
07-22-2006, 06:53 PM
Traditional Martial Arts are those founded before the Meiji period (give or take, 1867). They are not all sword schools. Included are schools on tactics (heiho), bajutsu (horseback riding), swimming in armor, etc. The word is for these arts is koryu. Among the best resources on the tradtional arts are Diane and Meik Skoss' three volume series, THE CLASSICAL WARRIOR TRADITIONS OF JAPAN, which can be purchased at www.koryu.com. There are probably somewhat over 100 different ryu ("traditions," "schools"), each one quite different from the others. Even today, a hitherto thought extinct school is found, usually in a very rural area, maintained by a few eldery men.

Best

George S. Ledyard
07-22-2006, 08:37 PM
Less technically correct but probably in more general common usage you find "traditional" being used to describe all martial arts: koryu, gendai, etc as opposed to the eclectic hodge podge of martial arts known as mixed martial arts. If an art has uniforms and etiquette, if it uses kata, if it doesn't have it's prime emphasis on competition or sparring, it would, by some be lumped into the "traditional" bucket. Aikido is defintely considered "traditional" by these folks.

Things in the competitive martial arts world have changed so fast since the first UFC that folks like the Gracies and Machados who do Brazilian Jiu Jutsu are seen by some as sort of old fashioned and "traditional".

I mention this because it is relevant to the general interest in Aikido. I have noticed, and a number of my friends who have dojos have noticed the same thing, that new enrollments are a bit off and especially off with the younger, high testosterone males who used to burn off so much energy in the dojo. The young, buff, kick ass, train your brains out young guys seem to be more ineterested in the mixed martial arts that they can see on prime time cable TV every night. There is a general disparagement of "traditional" as being equated with ineffective. This is the perception of the Koryu whose history is in training warriors for combat and even more so for arts more modern in derivation, like Aikido.

So these days, if you make a statement like, we teach "traditional" martial arts, you aren't saying (to the average person) that you are teaching a Koryu, you are saying to him that you aren't doing full contact, competition driven training, that you might place some emphasis on the values associated with the training, and that there is some formal structure of hierarchy and etiquette at your school.

There is a group of folks who ascribe to the general association of "traditional" as equating to outdated and ineffective but who aren't in the mixed martial arts group. These guys study combat arts. They have no competition as all the techniques they study are designed to kill or maim. You will find these guys under WWII Combatives, Modern Close Quarters Combatives, CQB, or some such appellation. Often they try to market themselves as having close association with the miltary or law enforcement, especially with elite units. Krav Maga positions itself this way... Generally, for these folks, the word "traditional" is anathma.

Down and dirty field guide to telling the difference... if you are still calling the place where you train a dojo and are wearing gis, you are probably "traditional" by this standard. If you don't wear formal uniforms and call the place where you train a gym, you are not traditional... And if you are still wearing those silly skirts its a dead give away that nothing you do works worth a damn "on the street".

Jason H
07-22-2006, 08:51 PM
At my place of training we have an interesting arrangement of Olympic-style Taekwondo on the 1st floor and aiki jiujitsu on the second floor. Downstairs they are always training "at the club" for the next "game" in their colorful, personalized shinguards, making quite a floral show of it all... Upstairs in the "dojo" we train "for the street" in gis and are rather tucked away and quiet about it.

markwalsh
07-23-2006, 10:41 AM
Traditional can be used in the aikido world (at least in the UK) to refer to schools that are basically Aikikai (as opposed to say Tomiki or Yoshinkan). Personally it irrtiates me as as aikido is a relaivly new art (with old roots) and is in many ways deeply radical in it's approach.

Don_Modesto
07-23-2006, 12:09 PM
The iconolclast in me wants to point out that tradition and kata are usually taken as indices of tradition, as per the excellent posts above.

But you don't have to go back far at all to see that the real tradition was traveling around, learning what you could very eclectically, forging a gestalt of your own, and renaming it--much the very process for which we revile Americans today.* See for example Ueshiba Morihei adapting Takeda's art to his own ends or Saito adapting this in turn to his point of view through systematization. We have various Americans, some posting in this very thread, insisting on viewing and describing these arts in their own words and thus, adding great value. "Every generation must write its own books," says Ralph Waldo.

Of course, the older generation wasn't much pleased with what was done to THEIR art by their headstrong students.

I think, though, that this idea of tradition qua sclerosis is rather...untraditional.

* Karl Friday, IIRC, related how one sword saint (Kamiizumi?) handed out a MENKY KAIDEN, a license of full transmission, commenting that his student had learned much--"since spring"! Man, was that guy lost to marketing or what? Hadn't the idea of the lifelong student (and commensurate tuition) occured to him as it has to Honbu, et al.?

statisticool
08-12-2006, 05:41 PM
What makes you consider a martial art as "traditional"?

Great question Carla!

My loose guidelines are:

-the martial arts originated in the country it is practiced in

-been practiced for at least 5 generations

-is not influenced by fads

-has a lot of philosophy in it

David Racho
08-13-2006, 03:39 AM
Great question Carla!
My loose guidelines are:
-the martial arts originated in the country it is practiced in
-been practiced for at least 5 generations
-is not influenced by fads
-has a lot of philosophy in it

By those guidelines, Aikido is not traditional. There's only 3 generations so far. Some lines got influenced by fads too.

statisticool
08-13-2006, 02:10 PM
By those guidelines, Aikido is not traditional. There's only 3 generations so far. Some lines got influenced by fads too.

Yeah, I'd think that aikido is not traditional overall. It certainly has traditional elements in it though.

I'd also probably add to the list
-generally not selling out for money

ian
08-14-2006, 06:31 AM
But you don't have to go back far at all to see that the real tradition was traveling around, learning what you could very eclectically, forging a gestalt of your own, and renaming it--much the very process for which we revile Americans today

Well said. Someone quite famous* said this: "When I used to go to other schools ...I would pay him the proper respects and learn from him. If I judged myself superior, I would again pay him my respects and return home." This same person also said that sincerity in training is the most important aspect of Budo.

I remember a really good aikido student who, after many years, lost faith in his aikido. He went off to do kick-boxing. Several years later he re-appeared, a much better aikidoka, because he then understood what he was doing in aikido more fully.

Personally I really like aikido, but I think we should be wary of a cult of personality towards either Ueshiba or our own sensei. I think, practially, many aikidoka would not have a chance (in self-defence) against even an average fighter who is used to 'full' contact sparring - not because aikido is rubbish, but because there is a misunderstanding of self-defence situations and aggression. Also, 'combat' martial arts are really designed for people who aren't going to spend much time practising since they have full time jobs running around with rifles, so are effective for the time spent practising. Sometimes I wonder whether many martial arts (Wu Chi and Aikido in particular) really require full time study, and that they need to be adapted for us 'part-timers'.

Anyway - I don't want to divert too much. But my point is, I understand why people would consider 'traditional' to relate to 'out of date'. You only have to look at the amount of karate and tai-chi kata which are practised in which people are still unsure of their real meaning. We constantly have to keep our focus. Although many don't do aikido for self-defence, I believe that is my focus and helps to hone and understand the other aspects.

You have to train at what appears useful to you at the time, until you discover why it may not be.

P.S. I only consider aikido a 'traditional' martial art because a. it is a Budo and b. we wear hakama!

(* Ueshiba)

saulofong
12-21-2006, 04:46 AM
In my opinion, tradition has to do with adjectives such as rigid and static. For me, Aikido is neither rigid nor static. It is dynamic. It flows by its own way. I prefer to consider the Aikido I am involved as dynamic than as traditional. Just my preference.

Would you consider someone who developed his own way to express budo as a traditional person ? And would his creation be traditional to him ?

Karen Wolek
12-21-2006, 05:19 AM
By those guidelines, Aikido is not traditional. There's only 3 generations so far. Some lines got influenced by fads too.

Actually, in my lineage, there are 5.

O'Sensei
Yamada Sensei
Harvey Konigsberg Sensei
Bob Wilcox Sensei
Me :)