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Old 12-16-2009, 12:05 AM   #2
Ellis Amdur
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Location: Seattle
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 895
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 16

I'm pleased to be able to be the first to respond to this article. Although the following may sound over-effusive, it is not. I'm honored that Peter has chosen to give my work such detailed attention. I will start by saying that I agree with most of his criticisms of the work. More rigor is needed, particularly in the sections on China - unfortunately, I am not the man to do it. I wanted to strike a first blow, so to speak, so that those with the abilities to do such research would be either inspired or goaded, as the case may be. Were my writing to be classified in military terms - I'm a scout - the infantry needs to follow up.
At any rate, I shall respond to some specific points in TIE, 16, to see if I can help clarify some points I may have left unclear.
1. The distinction between internal and external is a) not hard and fast, b) not confined, as the common cliche goes, to Taoist-based arts = internal and Buddhist based arts = external. There are a lot of mysteries here - most of the texts that came to Japan were, I am told, southern Shaolin, which works the body in certain specific ways - using more tension/release and forceful methods than such arts as t'ai chi. How to explain accounts I've received that Daito-ryu tends to follow some of the same principles found in T'ai chi or bagua (NOT waza - please don't go there! - principle written language, things can be discovered more than once. One of the tasks of future researchers is to tease out what exercises come from what provenance - AND, what effects and skills do they produce.
2. Re sohei and martial systems - my understanding of the sohei is that they were more ruffians and thugs than a) monks b) trained warriors. Furthermore, the bushi, too, during most of the heyday of the sohei did not have the kind of organized training methods we refer to as martial ryu. There was surely battle field tactics, but kata were a development from probably the 1400's onwards. At any rate, one gets the sense that the sohei were essentially much like pub doormen all go-up in robes and handed weapons. It is probable that the real development of internal training took place in peacetime (Edo period) rather than before.
3. Re Heiho Okugisho - my apologies for not being more explicit. The inclusion of that essay had several purposes - to demonstrate that Chinese knowledge was widely disseminated; through the skill of Chris Laughran and further help from Prof Wm. Bodiford, I was able to do what I, personally, could not have done with any other text - examined it in some depth. I was thereby able to introduce a discussion about the primordial ryu (which is important information in the rest of the book). Finally, to be fully honest - it gave me an opportunity to knock down a straw dog - the book has been cited as proof that the Takeda clan was doing Daito-ryu way back when.
4.My thesis regarding Chen Genpin really rests on one point - there was no other reason why three seasoned warriors, already skilled at grappling, would have much interest in a foreigner. It would be like several Olympic Greco-Roman champions enthralled with the accounts of a bookish Russian talking about a native wrestling style called Sambo, which he'd seen but never done. Everything follows from the point that he had to have something to grab their attention - and shuaijiao, by itself, is not so different from sumo or other belt wrestling to grab the attention so.
5.In the discussion on Yoshin-ryu and the caveat that I don't make an adequate distinction between internal and external - although Toby Threadgill and I are close, I've not felt what he does. Watched it, but haven't felt it. If, as I'm told, the elements of Yoshin-ryu "internal training" come from southern China, then they will, very likely, be that mix of external and internal methods - a compliment of building muscle to function in specialized ways AND training connective tissue and the nervous system.
6. RE numbers and the effect of judo on jujutsu. I believe that most jujutsuka, even in it's heyday, were not masters of internal strength, any more than most t'ai chi players are of very high level. My point is that samurai were 5% of the population in the Edo period. And jujutsu also filtered down to the commoners. And esoteric training was also there in kenjutsu schools (see Kuroda Tetsuzan for a modern example). Just to arbitrarily assign a figure, if the population of jujutsuka was 5,000,000 and 1/10 of one percent were of UEshiba's level, that's still 5000 at masters level. It was probably far more.
7. Re Takeda - and his "uniqueness" - Akiyama, Miura, Fukuno were all from earlier era. The comments about Takeda in that newspaper article about him (Ima Bokuden(?) illustrates the wonder in which he was regarded. But he was not typical of those earlier men - most bushi did not display the florid suspicion and paranoia. But unfamiliar with bushi in the 20th century, people imagined him to be typical. I think a good counterweight image would be the description of one man's grandfather in Memories of Silk and Straw. The grandfather, an old bushi and daimyo's executioner, was a man of absolute severity and discipline. For example, he would take his grandson duck hunting. He took a matchlock, a small metal ladle and a piece of lead. At the lakeside, he make a small fire, melt the lead in the ladle, make a single bullet and kill a single duck and then return home. This severity and discipline is, I believe, far more typical of the true high-level bushi.

To be clear, none of these responses are in any way, in defense. They are points of clarification. Once again, it is a joy to be treated with such gravity, and clarity.
Ellis Amdur

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