Koryū are not for everyone.

Shinto-ryū is not for everyone.

But everyone is welcome – if we follow the teachings of the late Sugino Yoshio-sensei who said that “Those who come are welcomed; those who leave are not regretted.”

We should strive to preserve the school for the next generation. And the one coming after that. And so on. Yet many people are only interested in gaining more students, having more “fun”, posting more Shinto-ryu influenced cosplay videos on Youtube or just wanting to gain more fame, power and influence. To put in one word: Ego. Pure and simple.

This behavior makes the school sick. The more widespread the school becomes, the less control from the top can be exercised. Meaning, the layer below, the one belonging to the Shibucho or people in charge for the international supervision of the school, need to be closely aligned to the will and expectations of the Sensei.

In many cases, this works out the right way. But what if people who are supposed to supervise the school abroad have their own agenda? What if they even openly question, criticize, or try to undermine the teacher? How can a healthy environment be preserved if the root is strong, but the branches are not? Would it be necessary to expel those people? Or using a different approach by trying to educate them further?

People tend to forget that the ryū accepted them into their midst. How many of those practicing koryū nowadays actually had a probation time? Just watching class, being thoroughly interviewed as the teacher wanted to know what kind of person is asking for permission to join the school. Nowadays, you might just join one trial keiko (or none at all) and you´re “in” – or so one might believe.

People tend to forget that with each increasing number the total time a teacher can invest into one student decreases. As keiko times are normally limited, ones own keiko time will inevitably be limited. The teacher invests time as he welcomed the student. But how many times have I experienced that students were eager in the beginning but didn´t show up after a couple of weeks or months. Koryū keiko can be boring. All those repetitions, all those silly looking movements, without any obvious meaning… why bother. Why go the extra mile only to be told that your Maki-Uchi is still crap and you should pay more attention. Why? Because the teacher wants you to advance. The teacher wants you to proceed to the core of the school, even if that means years of practice under harsh tutelage.

People tend to forget that studying koryū is not a one way road. We as students are in debt to the school. It welcomed us. It opened its door so we might enter. And how do we treat it? We come to Japan with demands and expectations, only to be told that we should practice more Kihon as Kihon holds the key to understanding the school’s principles. But those who are being told then return to their home countries and immediately fall back into their old “I´m a Sensei” habits.

It is our responsibility to give something back to the school. Our determination. Our will to learn and to fully embody the teachings of the school. And to become a person who upholds the value and the integrity of the school; not having an own agenda of one’s own, and undermining the authority of ones teacher, even if he´s 10,000km away.

If people consider themselves a student of koryū, they have to rethink, reconsider their own position within the school’s family and culture. The overall goal of each and every student and teacher should be to ensure that the school is properly passed along to the next generation. I am part of the next generation. And it makes me sick watching how students are behaving, within their respective environment or towards outsiders.

In the end, the study of koryū is nothing, obsolete.

But, in the end, the study of koryū can also be everything, even a way of life.

In the end, it´s up to each individual student to decide whether or not he or she can embrace the teachings of the school, the teachings of the teacher and his seniors or if the “study” merely becomes a nice hobby. In that case, everything is hopeless.


Den obigen Beitrag hatte ich bisher nur auf Facebook veröffentlicht, wollte ihn aber auch gerne hier teilen.

Yours in Budo,
Micha