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Old 06-12-2005, 04:29 AM   #25
Location: Frederick, MD
Join Date: Sep 2000
Posts: 509
Re: How Samurai i s aikido

How 'samurai' is anything? I'm not even sure what exactly the question means. Are we talking about how authentic it is? How close to a (non-existent) samurai ideal it is? How effective/traditional/strict/expensive is it?

First, there are no samurai today. None. Haven't been for, what, 150 years or so?

We can study the broad tepestry that was samurai life -- spanning several centuries, cultural shifts, regions, definitions and lineages that are diverse and varied, but tend to get rolled up into a neat, if romanticized package that doesn't reflect reality any more than Marty Robbins' songs relfected the reality of life in the old west.

Samurai, in one era, might be farmers who took up arms and marched off to battle, surived and were rewarded with titles and lands (the very first shogun followed this path, more or less, commoner to shogun in one lifetime), or he might be a rough and uncultured professional soldier who live a short, exciting and bloodt life, or he might be a lifetime bureaucrat who was allowed to wear two swords, and was expected to attend regular sword training, but was never closer to combat than reading old stories and romantic fiction or looking at the staged battles on the No or Kabuki stages.

If we say 'samurai' we must realize that there was no ideal or archtypical 'Samurai', but there were many variations and deviations and interpretations of what the term, and the class, really signified.

If you want to study a budo that's really close to (at least one type/class/family) of samurai, look into Yagyu Shingan Ryu, or something similar. A koryu system that includes sword and spear, armed/armored/unarmed grappling and theory of fortification and armor, espionage and probably a touch of mystical Buddhism or Shinto for seasoning. There are old systems that have maintained and nurtured the arts of warfare as were practiced by samurai of a certain clan, area or era.

None of the gendai budo, however, are particularly 'samurai' ... in fact, most were designed specifically to appeal to and be taught to the common masses, consciously laying the samurai ethos and mythos aside.


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