Sunday, December 27, 2009

New Year's Cards & DNBK Registrations

Shimabukuro Sensei has asked me to send a message on his behalf asking all members of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai/Jikishin-Kai International to send New Year's cards to Miura, Takeyuki, Hanshi and Sasamori, Takemi, Soke. Shimabukuro Sensei believes that well wishes from us all will contribute to the good spirit and energy of both Miura Sensei & Sasamori Sensei. Addresses for Miura Sensei and Sasamori Sensei (with the corrected zip code for Miura Sensei) were sent to KNBK/JKI members on the Kagami mailing list. Please feel free to pass this request on to any students that you might have but PLEASE do not share their addresses with anyone outside of the KNBK/JKI.

Also, Long Sensei has asked my to remind everyone that should you desire to join the DNBK or renew your membership with the DNBK for 2010, registrations are due in his office at Sakura Budokan in the first week of January. For current members, please send your DNBK member ID number to Long Sensei, along with a cheque for the registration fee (I believe that the cheque should be made out to Sakura Budokan; I believe Long Sensei will then send one cheque on to the DNBK International Division). Please be aware that due to very firm DNBK deadlines, late registrations will NOT be accepted. If you have any questions, please contact Long Sensei as soon as possible.

Monday, December 7, 2009

An Overview of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iaijutsu

Seito Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iai-Heiho (iaijutsu) is an authentic tradition of Japanese swordsmanship that traces its lineage directly to Hayashizaki Jinsuke Minamoto no Shigenobu, the Founder of what would become Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu (or simply Eishin-ryu). Hayashizaki Sensei, through rigourous training and introspection, established the methods that would become the bais for his system of iaijutsu in the closing years of the Sengoku Jidai of 16th Century feudal Japan. These methods were later modified and built on by Hasegawa Eishin Chikaranosuke, for whom Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is named, the 7th lineage holder in a line of transmission from Hayashizaki Sensei. One of the oldest extant koryu, or classical schools of Japanese martial arts, Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is a system of strategies and methods of face-to-face combat, beginning with the sword in the saya. In fact, it is often said that the life of iai lies in nukitsuke, the act of simultaneous drawing and cutting with the sword. It is this emphasis on combative techniques and strategies of swordsmanship beginning with the sword in the saya that designates Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu as a system of iaijutsu.

While Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is identified primarily as a school of iai, it should be understood that iaijutsu, as taught within our lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu, does not stand in isolation from kenjutsu (the techniques of swordsmanship that are employed after the sword has been drawn), but is rather a component of a broad range of sword methods (toho). The lineage of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu practiced and taught within the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai / Jikishin-Kai International is a sogo budo and includes extensive training in both iaijutsu and kenjutsu, as well as suemonogiri or tameshigiri (test cutting), kodachijutsu (short sword techniques), and juho (jujutsu). In addition to the practice of solo iaijutsu waza, kenjutsu training is introduced immediately in Eishin-ryu, initially in the form of the basic katachi, or paired kata (also called kumitachi) known as Tachiuchi no Kurai, and then progresses to advanced sets of katachi as well as the practice of bunkai and oyo as in the form of kumitachi distilled from the waza. Further sets of paired kata are studied at advanced levels of training.

Our line of Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu is represented by Shimabukuro Masayuki Hidenobu, Hanshi, Soshi and Chairman of the Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai / Jikishin-Kai International (KNBK/JKI). Shimabukuro Sensei is the senior-most student of Miura Takeyuki Hidefusa, Hanshi, Nippon Kobudo Jikishin-Kai and 20th Generation Headmaster of our line. Shimabukuro Sensei's senior-most student is Carl Long Shihan, Vice-Chairman of the KNBK/JKI.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Three Pillars of Traditional Arts

There are essentially three aspects, or pillars, that contribute to the formation of authentic systems of budo, the classical and traditional martial arts of Japan and Okinawa. Providing continuity throughout an art and allowing for the expression of the cohesive nature of traditional systems, these pillars are the elements that often separate traditional forms of budo from many of the modern “fighting arts” that today seem to be cobbled together on an almost weekly basis! Remembering that a system is: 1) an assemblage or combination of things or parts forming a complex or unitary whole1 or 2) an ordered and comprehensive assemblage of facts, principles, doctrines, or the like in a particular field of knowledge or thought2, we can see that these pillars were part of the very basis for the systematic organization and expression of true forms of budo, budo that can correctly be referred to as “martial systems”.

The first pillar is that of waza, or technique, and the refinement of that technique. This is an absolutely fundamental aspect of training. It is the very foundation of study within traditional forms of budo; there are no short cuts here. However, techniques, in and of themselves are of little use when considered in isolation from the rest of a given system; the purpose of technique is made manifest only when expressed within the context of the art (or arts) from which a technique is drawn. One may liken technique to the alphabet or characters of written language. One must first learn an alphabet (or perhaps the strokes that comprise a character) before one can spell or write words or construct sentences, let alone write an epic novel.

The second pillar is that of gensoku, or principles, the “fundamental guiding laws of natural phenomena3” as well as guiding “rules or methods for application in action4”, which serve, if you will, as the “operating system” of a given art. In fact it is this given set of “guiding” rules and the understanding of how they are applied within an art that defines individual arts. In short, they are what make a given art distinct from another. As the operating system, this pillar also represents the approach to and expression of strategies within in a given art. It therefore dictates the tactics, executed in accordance with the principles that underlie the particular art, that are employed to manifest the art’s strategies and thus achieve the desired outcome of a martial engagement.

Regarding principles as fundamental guiding laws of natural phenomena, i.e., the laws of physics, and their relationship to the techniques of budo, it must be understood that everything that exists in the phenomenal world is subject to, or governed by, these laws. They are in short, inviolable. However, the fact that there are indeed inviolable does not necessarily mean that they are always automatically correctly “harnessed”. Therefore, it stands to reason that the most efficient martial arts, or efficient expressions of an art, would be those that operate in very strict accordance with those laws. The founders of such martial arts systems paid very close attention to these laws, embracing a deep understanding of them and incorporating their rigourous study into the very technical fabric of what became highly evolved or efficient martial traditions. The result of such an approach to the formulation of a tradition is often a form of budo in which the physical expression of its methods is one of effortless technical execution.

Relaxed movement, subtlety and minimal effort yielding maximum effects are hallmarks of this expression. Observing a demonstration of such arts, one might view such technical expression as seemingly magical. However, it is nothing of the sort. Such technical expression, precisely because it is based on principles of natural law, is in fact, completely replicable. A principle based approach that yields maximum effect through minimal effort is also the key that enables one to study and continue to progress in budo well into one’s advanced years.

A third and equally important pillar is that of philosophy and ethics, the principles that serve as the fundamental doctrines or philosophical tenets of an art. In this sense, the term principle refers to guiding ethical rules or obligations of moral conduct. This pillar may be thought of as the “conscience” of a given art. This critically important pillar is that which elevates martial arts from the level of mere systems of organized methods of violence to that of budo; to that of ways that have the potential to polish our hearts and minds, to elevate our life conditions and to positively affect those around us.

If the waza, or technical pillar or foundation of an art is the “alphabet” of a martial tradition, the principles that comprise the second pillar represent the ability to construct words, sentences, paragraphs and eventually a whole narrative that communicates complex expressions, thoughts and understandings. In other words, principles breathe life into techniques, transforming them from tools that may seem to have limited application, or methods that can be executed only under certain conditions or within a certain framework or environment, into tools that have almost limitless potential. The third pillar guides the consciousness or mindfulness, the heart, with which we deliver the “narrative”. It is this pillar, working in concert with the other two that fosters the way of the true warrior heart: a victorious life of fearlessness, respect, dignity and compassion, attributes that can provide one with the personal power to face these most challenging of times with courage and the resolute will to overcome all obstacles that one may face.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Welcome to Shindokan Budo Blog!

Welcome to the blogsite of Shindokan Budo. Shindokan Budo is part of Black Bear Traditional Martial Arts Center, a traditional dojo located in Stonington, Connecticut, near the Westerly, Rhode Island line. Serving eastern Connecticut and southern Rhode Island, Shindokan Dojo is dedicated to the study and preservation of the traditional martial arts of Japan and Okinawa. With a focus on classical Japanese martial traditions, we offer instruction in authentic jujutsu and koryu sword arts, making our dojo unique among all others here in southern New England. We have ongoing classes in the following traditions:
  • Dentokan Jujutsu / Aiki-jujutsu (A recognized branch of Hakko-ryu Jujutsu, itself a system derived from Daito-ryu Aikijujutsu and descended from the close quarter fighting arts of the samurai);
  • Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu Iai-Heiho / Iaijutsu (school of classical Japanese swordsmanship founded in the late Muromachi Period by Hayashizaki Jinsuke Shigenobu);
  • Ono-ha Itto-ryu Kenjutsu (school of classical Japanese swordsmanship founded in the early Edo Period by Itto Ittosai Kagehisa [Itto-ryu] and Ono Tadaaki Jirouemon [Ono-ha Itto-ryu]).

We practice Muso Jikiden Eishin-ryu and Ono-ha Itto-ryu under the authority of the Jikishin-Kai International/Kokusai Nippon Budo Kai (Ono-ha Itto-ryu is practiced within the JKI/KNBK as an approved kenkyukai). Dentokan Aiki Jujutsu is practiced under the authority of the Sekai Dentokan Bugei Renmei.

Additionally, our dojo offers classes in Shorin-ryu Reihokan Karatedo & Kobudo as a shibu-dojo of the Okinawa Karate Kobudo Shorin-ryu Reihokan Kyokai.

We will try to keep this blogsite updated with news and essays as much as possible. Please check back again very soon.