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Old 01-07-2013, 08:21 AM   #3
Cliff Judge
Location: Kawasaki, Kanagawa
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 1,276
Re: Koryu and Aikido

I am not sure why you asked about dojo outside of Japan that teach koryu alongside Aikido...that's a question that has a pretty complex answer which may not actually be that useful. Sometimes you will have a teacher who does more than one martial art, he or she may teach them alongside each other, or may have two separate programs. What is probably most common is that a koryu group and an Aikido group will share space and have some students in common.

The dojo I train at is strictly Aikido but That Other Fine Dojo With The Very Nice People Just Up the Road, the Capital Aikikai, has a Katori Shinto ryu group affiliated with Tetsuzan Sugawara there. Sugawara Sensei is a Nanadan in Aikido, was issued a teaching certificate in Katori Shinto ryu that makes Westerners on the internet angry, and has been practicing Tai Chi for a long time also. I don't train with the man but I believe there is a bit of integration in his approach between the arts. I am also impressed by how warm and caring he is with his students who are spread all over the world. Not that you are asking but anybody looking for an integrated koryu-aikido approach, I'd look for a Sugawara group straight away.

In general, the thing about koryu is, you don't mess with it. I mean you can. but it is silly to do so, because the environment that informed koryu is gone. Most Aikido traditions are more open-ended. So if you get into koryu and don't drop Aikido, Aikido becomes a setting in which you can - carefully and subtly - explore the principals you are picking up in your koryu. You are probably screwing up if you go in reverse. So while Aikido will give you habits you need to break for the benefit of your koryu training, your koryu training will give you nothing but interesting stuff to play with in Aikido (though you need to be careful because you can hurt people bad if they aren't expecting your wack koryu technique).

Weapons arts can seem very distantly, or abstractly, related to Aikido, particularly for the period when you are learning the movements and burning them in. Sometimes it is just impossible to relate the two, way more effort than it is worth. If I ever took up Shindo Muso ryu, for example, I would have to put down the Aikijo for good, because the two systems seem so different to me that it is ridiculous. My own sword training gives me nothing but interesting things to consider when I am practicing Aikido sword, on the other hand. In particular, I have a sense of timing and distance now.

But on the other hand, koryu jujutsu arts are REALLY interesting training for Aikido people. There are a number of jujutsu techniques that are basically "ur-techniques" and form the technical underpinnings of Aikido and Daito ryu before it. Studying these techniques in classical form lets you suddenly see where the Aikido techniques came from. Sometimes you can also understand why they have changed, so you can continue to practice them as Aikido techniques, but with a bit of restored correctness here and there. Learning to take relaxed, compliant, but aware Aikido ukemi is a great benefit to koryu jujutsu practice IMO also.
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