Budo as the Art of War II – Oct 26, 2014, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

A bit more on the idea that budo is training for war. Mostly I’m talking about the koryu and yes I know folks argue over budo vs koryu, I had the same argument with my brother when I was a kid. I had a little metal wheelbarrow and he said it was steel. We had a fistfight because he was just wrong.

Further to the last piece, of course one can use individual combat as an analogy for the movements on a battlefield, but a much better analogy would be chess, or go, or even better, American football since it’s a team sport and deals with capturing territory. Musashi did command troops at one point, and was talking to a single reader when he wrote, so the analogy between individual swordsmanship and larger battlefield movements was natural to him. But it’s a bit of a stretch to assume that one could command troops in the field by studying Hyoho Niten Ichiryu.

It’s actually somewhat questionable that one can command the students in one’s dojo with the skills developed in any martial art. The arts that are large enough and widespread enough to compare to armies might be kendo and judo, both are somewhat united, but with a bit of reflection one can see that’s because of an external influence, the international competition. Again, a “game” seems better at getting cohesive team (ie warfare) skills out of people than an “art”. I will assume we can’t come up with a non-sportified martial art that’s of any comparable size and united in such a way as those two.

As Karl Friday pointed out many years ago in this discussion, both Olympic and military marksmen use guns, but that doesn’t mean that biathlon would be great training for desert or even mountain warfare. Sasen (the key technique of Niten Ichiryu) will certainly end a duel in a quick and decisive manner, but I think even the old British Army proved to themselves the ineffectiveness of such a direct attack (with bayonet fixed) on entrenchments and heavy gunfire by the end of the first world war. Bravery and skill with a sword would not have done much better in a frontal assault on the trenches of Kyoto in 1467.

The koryu generally don’t address fundamentals like logistics and managing people. Yes the Gorin no Sho actually does have something to say about such things but that’s not core to the school itself. I don’t know too many koryu instructors who are also teaching small and large unit tactics and logistics, or even how to manage the front office in a similar way, so OK perhaps the closest we’ve got is Musashi’s Gorin if you stipulate that it’s the supplemental textbook for Niten Ichiryu training. Again, a stretch.

Is there a single koryu ken school out there that teaches even paired fighting, let alone fighting in units of three or four? Dueling one on one isn’t warfare.

Speaking of which, and returning to the commercial comments. George Silver, c1600 was complaining about Saviolo and that snobby upper class rapier stuff taught for money, instead of good old mutton and beer English backswording.

Same time as Musashi complaining about Katori Shinto Ryu.

Commodification and the complaints about it are not new, think about the UFC and Spike TV (is that still a thing?) which led to stuffed full classes of American and Canadian jiu jutsu.

Advertising works, get a movie that features some martial art or another and you get a bunch of new students. But who stays and why? Always my question.

Here’s another one, my old TKD instructor used to say that nobody stays in TKD for 10 years on the off chance that they’ll get into a bar fight… how about staying in a koryu for 30 years so they can master all the great battlefield knowledge…

Oops, too danged old to hike from point A to B and then fight for 3 days without sleep. Best find some young guys and do the fast training program and send them instead.

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