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Old 09-19-2007, 03:39 PM   #1
Don_Modesto
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Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Contra the usual position that BUJUTSU is nasty and brutish; BUDO, soft and squishy:

Article, "Off the Warpath" by Karl Friday, University of Georgia, From Budo Perspectives, edited by Alexander Bennett, 2005 by Kendo World Publications Limited, Auckland, New Zealand.

Interested in comments...

Quote:
Issai Chozan's eighteenth century martial art parable, Neko no myoojutsu ("The cat's eerie skill"), for example, portrayed a vision of ultimate martial prowess that entailed being in such perfect harmony with the natural order that one transcended any need or desire to fight.

But Issai and his mid-Tokugawa contemporaries were scarcely the first to contend that martial training can and should reach beyond physical skills and technical expertise. Sixteenth century instructional writings, as well as early 17th century texts...suggest that this notion was already well established during the late Sengoku era. Careful consideration of the circumstances, under which the ryuuha bugei first appeared, moreover, strongly suggests that these arts were never meant to the straightforward tools of war—that, visions of martial art as a vehicle to broad personal education shaped and characterized this phenomenon from it's nascence.

It is clear, first of all, that ryuuha bugei could not have accounted for more than a tiny portion of 16th century military training. Estimates based on surviving documentation from the period suggest that there were at most a few dozen ryuuha around during the 16th Century. Armies of that era, however, regularly mobilized tens of thousands of men….

Ryuuha bugei must, therefore, have been a specialized activity pursued by only a minute percentage of Sengoku warriors.

Nor did the skills that late medieval bugeisha concentrated on developing have a great deal of direct applicability to 16th century warfare. In fact, even the earliest ryuuha bugei were, at best, anachronistic in this regard….

Thus, ryuuha bugei, which focused on developing prowess and personal combat, emerged and flourished in almost inverse proportion to the value of skilled individual fighters on the battlefield. Moreover, the weapon that played the most prominent role in this new phenomenon--the Sword--played a decidedly minor role in medieval warfare. Swords never became a key battlefield armament in Japan. They were, rather, supplementary weapons analogous to the side arms worn by modern soldiers. While they were also employed in combat, they were used far more often in street fights, robberies, assassinations and other (off battlefield) civil disturbances. Missile weapons--arrows, rocks and later bullets—dominated battles throughout the medieval period. Scholars and popular audiences alike have shown a remarkable reluctance to accept this reality and have attended instead to confound the symbolic importance of the sword to early modern bushi identity with prominence in medieval battles….

Why did ryuuha bugei emerge when they did--at a time when generalship, the ability to organize and direct large forces was rapidly coming to overshadow personal martial skills as the decisive element in battle, and the key to a successful military career? Why were there so few ryuuha bugei around during the Sengoku period and why did they proliferate so rapidly during the early Tokugawa period after the age of wars had passed?....

All these questions become much easier to answer if one sets aside the premise that ryuuha bugei originated as instruments for teaching workaday techniques of the battlefield. And indeed, there is little basis for that hoary assumption, beyond the fact that war was endemic in Japan when the first martial art schools appeared. The received wisdom rests, in other words, on post hoc ergo prompter hoc fallacy.

A growing body of evidence, on the other hand, points to the conclusion that ryuuha bugei and the pedagogical devices associated with it aimed from the start at conveying more abstract ideals of self-development and enlightenment. That is, there was no fundamental shift of purpose in martial art education between the late 16th and mid 17th centuries. Tokugawa period Budoo represented not a metamorphosis of late medieval martial art, but the maturation of it. Ryuuha bugei itself constituted a new phenomenon--a derivative, not a linear improvement, of earlier, more prosaic military training….

More importantly, however, the martial and other arts also shared a sense of ultimate—true—purpose defined in the medieval Japanese concept of michi or path. This construct, born of implications drawn from a world view common to Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism, saw expertise in activities of all sorts--from games and sports to fine arts, from practical endeavors to religious factors--as possessing a universality deriving from its relationship to a common ultimate goal. It held concentrated specialization in any activity to be an equally valid route to attainment of universal truth asserting that all true paths must lead eventually to the same place and therefore complete mastery of even the most the trivial pursuits must yield the same rewards as can be found through the most profound. Ryuuha bugei, emerging in this cultural and most philosophically milieu, took its place alongside poetry, composition, incense judging, Noh drama, the tea ceremony, and numerous other michi….

It fostered character traits and tactical acumen that made those who practice it better warriors, but it's goals and ideals were more akin to those of liberal education than vocational training. That is, bugeisha, even in the Sengoku period had more in common with Olympic marksmanship competitors--training with specialized weapons to develop a esoteric levels of skill under particularized conditions--than with Marine riflemen. They also had as much—perhaps more--in common with Tokugawa period and modern martial artists than with the ordinary warriors of their own day.

Viewed in this light, the prominent role of the sword in medieval ryuuha bugei is much easier to understand. For, their secondary role in battlefield combat notwithstanding, swords achieved a singular status as heirlooms and symbols of power war, military skill and warrior identity….

This representational functional reflected in the popularization of the term hyoohoo (or heihoo)--which until late medieval times designated military science or martial arts in the broad sense—as a synonym for kenjutsu….

Specialization, formalization, and idealization of ryuuha bugei were not inherently deleterious to military preparedness, because this form of martial training had never been about readying troops for war. Military science writ large continued in the guise of Gungaku, while hyoohoo continued to focus on personal development ....

By the 18th century, bushi who had not made and even trained seriously for war in generations, had lost sight of any separation between martial art and military training. Indeed ryuuha bugei had long since overshadowed and supplanted other kinds of soldierly drill. For the bushi of the mid Tokugawa period and later, there was but one form of sophisticated combative training: the individual-centered, self-development oriented arts of the various ryuuha....

[This resulted in] the conviction that swordsmanship and other martial arts of the day descended directly from instruments of war, and that ryuuha bugei originated as vehicles to train warriors for battle….

Ironically, the martial arts today are closer in role and character--particular in their perceived role and character--to their remote medieval progenitors than to their late Tokugawa parents.

Don J. Modesto
St. Petersburg, Florida
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Old 09-19-2007, 03:59 PM   #2
Aikibu
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Thanks Don!!! great Article....

You mean Budo has a tradition and history!!!

It's absolutely shocking to think that we're not the only Generation in History to "understand" the meaning of Budo.

William Hazen

Actually that was a poor attempt at sarcasm. My Apologies
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Old 09-19-2007, 10:06 PM   #3
crbateman
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Interesting article. Seems to suggest a sort of ebb-and-flow development to MA, rather than the more commonly thought linear path.
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:30 AM   #4
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

This is a really interesting article, but to me it seems more like a possible hypothesis than a finding. I might have missed it somewhere, but where does it provide explanation and support for its key assertion that koryu bugei have little to do with battlefield combat?

It mentions that the sword wasn't very important on the battlefield, but was rather mainly a tool for disorganized personal combat, and it follows that martial arts that do not emphasize battlefield weapons have little to do with battlefield fighting. However, the part quoted above doesn't establish that koryu bugei focus primarily on the sword. My understanding is that most of them focus on yari, naginata, or whatever weapon was common in their age. Is this mistaken?
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:51 AM   #5
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

I did find one other possible example, but it doesn't seem very thorough either. It says that:
Quote:
Article wrote:
Estimates based on surviving documentation from the period suggest that there were at most a few dozen ryuuha around during the 16th Century. Armies of that era, however, regularly mobilized tens of thousands of men….

Ryuuha bugei must, therefore, have been a specialized activity pursued by only a minute percentage of Sengoku warriors.
Without establishing anything about pedagogy in the period, it's not clear how many people could reasonably be trained to some extent in one ryu. Furthermore, it doesn't follow that ryuha that did not train most soldiers were not intended for war -- merely that they weren't intended for mass instruction.
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Old 09-20-2007, 09:18 AM   #6
Timothy WK
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino wrote: View Post
I might have missed it somewhere, but where does it provide explanation and support for its key assertion that koryu bugei have little to do with battlefield combat?
(Dr.) Karl Friday is a professor of history at the University of Georgia, as well as a menkyo kaiden holder in Kashima-Shinryu. This doesn't actually answer your question, but he's well respected on these types of historical issues.

--Timothy Kleinert

Aikido & Wujifa qigongs
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:35 AM   #7
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Hello
It is a nice article but is it not looking at the past with modern eyes?

I mean European knight developed courtly loves and all the social niceties that goes with knighthood. That does not prevent them to have a very efficient martial system, and like in japan the sword was a secondary weapon.
All the medievals treatise treat the long sword, but at the tie of the treaties the main weapon on the battle field was the lance on horseback and pole axes.

But the thing is that those treatises are geared toward nobility, whose rsole purpose in society is martial endeavours.
You can find advertisement against teachings common people" and the same secrecy than the Japanese ruyha.

The file and ranks was really like military conscription today.
A few weeks training, so that they are not too dangerous for allied forces, have an idea where the business end of the weapon is and here you go laddies.
Those who survive the first battles can pass on experiences to the new one coming up.
In medieval Europe, professional /semi professional soldier followed that mode of functioning. and the warring state in Japan had nothing to envy to occidental Europe during the 14th and 15 centutry.

I do not think we can do a correlation between the actual efficiency of a style and the spread of school and style.
Society was different and the more remote in time you go the less actual sources you got.

For example Medieval German School produced about 20 manual during the 15th century, we have 2 Italian treatises, two English mnemonic verses.
But we know that there was probably much more style than that.

I am not saying that article is wrong, just that their was societal constrain on the bushi and that there was plenty of people conscripted/volunteering for the army for very few styles is a little to succinct to demonstrate the point of the original poster and the of the article

One Ringeck to bring them all and in darkness bind them,
In the Land of Windsor where phlip phlop live.
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:51 PM   #8
Don_Modesto
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino wrote: View Post
This is a really interesting article, but to me it seems more like a possible hypothesis than a finding. I might have missed it somewhere, but where does it provide explanation and support for its key assertion that koryu bugei have little to do with battlefield combat?....the part quoted above doesn't establish that koryu bugei focus primarily on the sword. My understanding is that most of them focus on yari, naginata, or whatever weapon was common in their age. Is this mistaken?
I've just exchanged emails with Dr. Friday and he says that more and more evidence is accumulating for the argument that swords were not the primary battle weapon and he points out that in most ryuuha bugei, the sword is the focus of attention. I didn't include his bibliography--was thinking about copyright as I posted this much text--but you might chase down Conlan's work on injury reports. I can look it up if there's a call for it.

FWIW, there's another excellent article by William Bodiford in the book addressing the much-ballyhooed putative connection between Zen and Ken that's worth reading. I got my copy through the local library's interlibrary loan system.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:56 PM   #9
Don_Modesto
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Philippe Willaume wrote: View Post
Hello
It is a nice article but is it not looking at the past with modern eyes?
Ya know, I'm no expert, but if anything, it strikes me that quite the contrary, he's attempting to see things the way there were seen in their days.

Quote:
I mean European knight developed courtly loves and all the social niceties that goes with knighthood. That does not prevent them to have a very efficient martial system, and like in japan the sword was a secondary weapon....

I am not saying that article is wrong, just that their was societal constrain on the bushi and that there was plenty of people conscripted/volunteering for the army for very few styles is a little to succinct to demonstrate the point of the original poster and the of the article
To tell the truth, it sounds like you have a much better background for this discussion than myself. I hope you find the article stimulating. I did. (But then, I am predisposed to the iconoclastic argument.)

Don J. Modesto
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Old 09-20-2007, 01:57 PM   #10
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Yeah, sticks and stones...it was mostly stones and arrows that killed warriors back then.

I see this crowd of people dressed for battle, one crowd on each side, throwing things at each other. Yikes....

B,
R

Ron Tisdale
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Old 09-20-2007, 02:14 PM   #11
Paul Sanderson-Cimino
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Don J. Modesto wrote: View Post
I've just exchanged emails with Dr. Friday and he says that more and more evidence is accumulating for the argument that swords were not the primary battle weapon and he points out that in most ryuuha bugei, the sword is the focus of attention. I didn't include his bibliography--was thinking about copyright as I posted this much text--but you might chase down Conlan's work on injury reports. I can look it up if there's a call for it.
I should clarify -- I was simply pointing out that the excerpt as quoted didn't spend much time establishing the groundwork for its conclusion. If this is coming from a well-respected source, my guess is that he does have evidence for this foundational stuff, and it merely wasn't included in the section as quoted.

In that case -- very interesting! I'm curious to hear more.
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Old 09-20-2007, 03:18 PM   #12
Don_Modesto
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino wrote: View Post
I should clarify -- I was simply pointing out that the excerpt as quoted didn't spend much time establishing the groundwork for its conclusion. If this is coming from a well-respected source, my guess is that he does have evidence for this foundational stuff, and it merely wasn't included in the section as quoted.

In that case -- very interesting! I'm curious to hear more.
Yeah. I included what I felt to be the main arguments but left out a lot of the support. What I posted was sort of a precis of the whole and a teaser to get people to read the piece. I found it worth the trouble. Friday's always good.

Don J. Modesto
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Old 09-20-2007, 08:33 PM   #13
Ketsan
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Paul Sanderson-Cimino wrote: View Post
I did find one other possible example, but it doesn't seem very thorough either. It says that:

Without establishing anything about pedagogy in the period, it's not clear how many people could reasonably be trained to some extent in one ryu. Furthermore, it doesn't follow that ryuha that did not train most soldiers were not intended for war -- merely that they weren't intended for mass instruction.
True. It's my understanding that most martial training was done "in house" by instructors hired by the clan. It could be that their limited number was a product of supply and demand. If everyone was being trained by clan instructors there might not have been much call for outside instruction.
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Old 09-20-2007, 10:29 PM   #14
crbateman
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Re: Ryuuha Bugei all soft and mushy, too!

Quote:
Ron Tisdale wrote: View Post
I see this crowd of people dressed for battle, one crowd on each side, throwing things at each other.
Ahhhh... You must be referring to my first marriage...
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