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Random Thoughts on Succession Issues

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2014. Not to be used without permission

(This post is one I have been sitting on for awhile now and is a bit more “stream of consciousness” than other pieces I have posted. With that said, it has been sitting around doing nothing long enough so here it is.)

Among the numerous aspects of Japanese martial arts that confound and confuse the Western practitioner, the issue of succession in an art probably ranks near the top of list. This is no doubt in part because there is no one clear cut method of succession that covers all the Japanese arts. The idea most people have, even in Japan, is that either a family member or a top student will take over the art when the previous heads retires or passes on. While in some cases this is true, there are numerous variations on the theme of transmission.  Continue Reading »

Musha Shugyo: The Warrior’s Pilgrimage?

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2014. Not to be used without permission

I recall my days in university when one of my professors in Japanese history warned me to be wary of research that focuses too greatly on one particular angle of viewing a subject. At the time we were discussing a well known work on a particular branch of Japanese religion and my professor was pointing out that the author of the work wrote almost exclusively from the view point of a “true believer” and had mostly ignored social and financial angles that helped explain how this group survived into modern times. This problem is nearly universal in any sort of research and trying to maintain the proper balance of “views” can be a major challenge. Continue Reading »

Blame It on the New Guy

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2014. Not to be used without permission

The technical differences between various lines of the same ryu are one of the things that many find hard to reconcile in the koryu world. At first glance one would think that varying lines within the same art should be more or less the same, but the reality is that more often than not they are anything but.

Continue Reading »

As is usually the case as of late, time for writing has been limited and what time I do have has been focused on translating. Last year the various groups practicing Katayama-ryū iai-kenjutsu based in Osaka formalized an organization for passing down the art in its current state to the future, with its formal name being the Katayama-ryū Shinbu-no-kai. We have been slowly working on condensing and making certain teachings of the philosophical and moral side of the ryū’s teaching public. For those who may be interested, please visit katayama-ryu.org (in Japanese, English, Italian and German).

Watch What You Say

Watch What You Say 

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2013. Not to be used without permission

 

Upon joining koryu, the new practitioner will often be required to swear some form of oath and vow to follow various rules required by the ryu. Depending on the tradition this can take different forms ranging from an ultra traditional making an oath sealed in blood sworn to the various deities the ryu worships, to modern updated versions which due away with the deities and blood oaths, Continue Reading »

Random Thoughts on Teaching

By Rennis Buchner
Copyright © Rennis Buchner, 2013. Not to be used without permission

For many practitioners of the martial arts, the allure for someday becoming a teacher and running one’s own group or even school can be a strong one. This is especially true of upper beginner or intermediate level practitioners, particularly but by no means limited to those in the West. The reasons for this are many.  Continue Reading »

Am I the only one to notice that in the past several years, the number of quality books on Japanese martial arts being published has dwindled considerably compare to, say a decade or so ago? One reason the number of new posts here on Acme Bugei has dropped is that I have been trying to find some books to post positive reviews on. I have a couple of books I may review in the future, but in both cases, the reviews would be far from Continue Reading »