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Nathan Wallace
11-17-2008, 06:50 PM
Why is it that there are so few teachers of Tatsumi ryu?

Keith Larman
11-17-2008, 08:34 PM
Why is it that there are so few teachers of Tatsumi ryu?
I'm confused -- why is this surprising? Given that Tatsumi-ryu is a koryu art the fact that there are any licensed instructors at all outside of Japan means there are more instructors around than most other koryu...

There are some koryu arts taught outside of Japan, but they are few and far between. Legitimate instructors of these things are almost as rare as unicorns.

Nathan Wallace
11-19-2008, 10:22 AM
I knew they were hard to come by but there are only three teachers of it in the whole world! Are most koryu dieing out 'that' bad? Thats really depressing.:(

Toby Threadgill
11-19-2008, 11:09 AM
I knew they were hard to come by but there are only three teachers of it in the whole world! Are most koryu dieing out 'that' bad? Thats really depressing.:(

Mr Wallace,

Things are not as dire for Tatsumi ryu as you imagine. Hiroshi Kato is the 22nd headmaster of Tatsumi-ryū. Outside Japan, Liam Keeley in Melbourne, Australia holds advanced teaching licenses and is authorized to represent the school at its highest levels. The last I heard Pierre Simon was authorized to teach in France while Miquel Morancho and Jaime Gamundí were authorized to teach in Spain. There are other licensed Tatsumi ryu instructors residing inside Japan.

That said, koryu are in a precarious position. My own school, Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu currently has only a handful of authorized instructors worldwide.

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Keith Larman
11-19-2008, 12:15 PM
Hey, Toby...

Isn't that the way it has always been for many of the koryu arts anyway? Today we have gendai arts like aikido where you can find a shodan in every city teaching, often with the blessing of their parent org. There's a different "vibe" with these arts in that the idea is to spread them wide and far. So often those guys teaching aren't exactly at the pinnacle of the art. It is considered "good enough" assuming the student and the instructors themselves continue to grow.

Then there's the various "ninja" groups with 25-year-old hachidan selling the dream of magical ninja goodness. But I think that's another rant for another day... ;)

My understanding on the more traditional arts is that there isn't much of the "we need to find students" vibe. It is more about the transmission of the art and in doing so ideally intact and complete. So not having a convention hall full of instructors is really a defining attribute in a sense.

The drawback of course is that when there isn't a transmission due to early death or whatever things get sticky quickly... And with fewer and fewer young people willing to make that step into the "big leagues" so to speak things get difficult.

Count me in that crowd. How I regret not finding this stuff when I was 20 and single...

The same is happening in sword polishing -- the olden days of people being able to apprentice for a decade just doesn't come along any longer. We're seeing fewer and fewer new faces unless they happen to be related to someone who already had the training. Things change and that hasn't helped that world either...

Anyway, I know next to nothing about this -- Toby is the guy to listen to. I'm more of a interested bystander...

Rennis Buchner
11-20-2008, 02:23 AM
I knew they were hard to come by but there are only three teachers of it in the whole world! Are most koryu dieing out 'that' bad? Thats really depressing.:(

While circumstances vary, having "only" three teachers is not all that unusual of a situation here in Japan and isn't really a solid indicator of the "health" of the ryu. Yes many ryu have a fair number of students and a number of teachers, branch dojo, etc. but probably an equal number of ryu are roughly down to "it's just the family", or "there are only a couple of us left" types of situations. Sometimes these are considered bad, but other times it's simply a statement of fact or potentially even a good thing ("There's just a handful of us now, but everyone is solid") For example, my own ryu over-all is probably "healthy" in pure numbers of people practicing in various lines around Japan, but in my own particular line there are only four of us including sensei, but there is no pressing feeling of "we need to find some more people". Some (many?) ryu just prefer to keep things close and "family-like". Also to many, "numbers" doesn't always equal "healthy" in the traditional sense. Some ryu that have managed to gain a significant number of students also are accused by some to have "lost" a great deal of the traditional aspects that made up the "ryu" in the first place. One can often hear comments in the "those guys are just doing the techniques of XYZ-ryu now" vein.

Simply put, it's a complex issue that cannot be understood simply from the number of teachers out there. That said, Tatsumi-ryu seems to be in no danger of "dying out" anytime in the near future and, from the information I have at the moment, is one of the ryu I would consider to be "healthy".

Random thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

Josh Reyer
11-20-2008, 07:11 AM
I knew they were hard to come by but there are only three teachers of it in the whole world! Are most koryu dieing out 'that' bad? Thats really depressing.:(

That's a feature, not a bug.

Keith Larman
11-20-2008, 09:38 AM
That's a feature, not a bug.

What he said in one short sentence vs. my half page... :o

Toby Threadgill
11-21-2008, 09:54 AM
My understanding on the more traditional arts is that there isn't much of the "we need to find students" vibe. It is more about the transmission of the art and in doing so ideally intact and complete.

Hi Keith,

It's a balancing act for sure. You'd like enough highly trained instructors so the arts survival is not dependent on just one or two individuals. However, its easy to start losing the quality of transmission if things spread out too far. I have a very busy schedule maintaining the small number of dojo's we have around the world. I'll eventually cut off accepting new groups simply because there is a point where I can't keep on top of things.

I also agree with Rennis. Some schools are best kept very small. It's always been that way and there really isn't a practical way for these schools to grow larger without suffering some potential ill effects. This is especially true for schools that have always been taught in one area or village. The school may be small in numbers but can still be quite strong. Schools like Shosho ryu in Morioka or Kurama Yoshin ryu near Kagoshima come to mind.

Toby Threadgill / TSYR

Nathan Wallace
11-21-2008, 10:47 AM
Thank you all for your responses. I must admit that my worry about these arts is almost entirely selfish. I don't know if its just me but when I hear about a ryu I did not know anything about before I just get exited and thirst for information on it. I want to know everything about the school. I want to feel what its like. I want to experience it completely. Like some little kid with a treat. So silly.

Mr. Threadgill my Sensei Mark Hopkins and his Wife were at your seminar. They loved you! Our last class Sonya Sensei had us doing nothing but exercizes you taught at the seminar. It was quite enjoyable. I wish I had been able to attend. She mentioned something about adrenaline training, tunnel vision, and what sounded like a severe beating from peers. Ovcourse we could barely understand what she was trying to convey, but we were all very interested. lol. thanks again.