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Old 09-11-2008, 11:42 PM   #15
Rennis Buchner
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 62
Re: The "real" techniques not taught to everyone?

The issue is more "sweeping" in that it is, in many ryu, the traditional way things have always been done. In my own ryu, the oldest makimono (scroll) we have, written by the founder, makes it very clear that a certain teachings are to be passed to one person only per generation. At least in our ryu, the rest that everyone gets to train in is still perfectly usable, but the last piece of the puzzle to fully connect everything was traditionally for one person only. In our case that teaching was almost entirely lost until a certain menkyo kaiden recently managed to piece it (or the majority of it at least) back together after decades of research and luckily he has decided that times have changed and he should teach it more openly to those who are truly interesting in continuing the tradition. Another ryu I know of made a change in the current generation as well. Supposedly the current head thought that the techniques previously taught only to menkyo level students were just too important and he changed the system so that now they are among the first things all students study. Others aren't so lucky and you can be sure a lot has been lost in many arts, whether through secrecy, misdirection, misunderstanding or just plain old not "getting it".

I would imagine that in the case of Takeda Sokaku and such they would say by only giving all the goods to one or two trusted people, they are just continuing what is standard tradition in many other ryu. Fair enough in some ways. In the case of my ryu, that formerly secret bit was just a sort of new way to look at what we are already doing, so withholding that info doesn't radically change anything you have learned up to that point. However in the case of Daito-ryu it seems that the "missing piece" is more like the engine to the car you have spent building, so perhaps there is much more to complain about.

Regardless, the "tradition of secrecy" does have a long history. Whether this is something good or bad greatly depends on your point of view. One can argue that 300 hundred plus years ago there might have been some very good reasons for doing such a thing, and that tradition is being carried on today. You can also argue just as strongly that times have completely and utterly changed and the rational for such a tradition doesn't or shouldn't apply anymore. Again, depends on your point of view. Personally I don't have much of a problem with the idea of certain information being withheld for certain people with certain levels of trust and commitment, provided that all the training previous to getting that information is building towards something and not useless. I would however draw the line at telling students they are training in something when actually they are just doing "busy work" to keep them occupied and the end result of that training is... well... not much.

So in the end....? Well there is a good reason why it is often said that if you want to learn an art in Japan, you have to steal it.

Random thoughts,
Rennis Buchner

Last edited by Rennis Buchner : 09-11-2008 at 11:55 PM.
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