Thread: On Koryu
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Old 03-10-2011, 12:34 PM   #22
Thomas Campbell
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 407
Re: On Koryu

Toby Threadgill wrote: View Post
Now, it could be argued that in these modern times it takes longer to master koryu study because we can't devote the time or intensity to study that Edo Period practitioners did. I find this to be an accurate observation, but there are definitely instructors out there who hold back teachings in an effort to maintain power and status. I have seen it up close myself. It is a shame but it is also an all to common fact in all martial arts traditions regardless of origin.

Takamura sensei saw the passing of all his knowledge to be a sacred duty to his ancestors. He did not hold anything back from his students but instead inundated us with information when he determined we were ready for it. He confided to me several times that his biggest fear was that he would die before he had successfully passed all the wisdom of his teachers forward. ( Imagine hearing that and then receiving a menkyo kaiden from the man? Talk about pressure.... )

So sure, many koryu have been neglected and their mokuroku compromised to one degree or another. Others have been the victims of egomaniacal leaders whose arrogance has led to teachings being interned in a grave, but koryu are very diverse entities and must be evaluated on an individual basis. Many survive as vibrant and living windows into budo's past. Toby Threadgill / TSYR
Nicely stated. It is true that in other martial arts aside from the koryu, teachers have deliberately withheld instruction in material/skills essential to the effectiveness of the art even from their own students, as a tool of manipulation/favoritism and out of fear of a student becoming better than the teacher (Chinese martial arts are replete with stories of this). This is obviously different than withholding material from non-students, or timing the instruction in particular skill sets to the level and understanding of individual students or disciples--which however may be interpreted by people outside the school as a tool of manipulation or an indicator of the teacher's insecurity.
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