A thread in the Ninjutsu forum entitled What's the use? included a tangent in which it was pointed out that koryu bujutsu tends to reserve some of their teachings as "hidden initiations" for their own students. This is generally quite true. Unfortunately, this tends to come across as quite cultish or mystical to Western ears, when the explanation is somewhat more prosaic. I should be clear that as in all things related to koryu bujutsu, the full answer is really case-by-case. Some schools believe in boosting the effectiveness of their school with security-through-obscurity; in other cases, the root motivation for a graded introduction was fundamentally commerical. At the same time, what all koryu bujutsu share (by historical and defintional necessity) is an educational framework rooted in neo-Confucian ideology. One of the key tenets of this pedagogy is that the behaviour of the mind and body (and ki, but this gets a little beyond the subject) are profoundly linked. If the body is behaving correctly, so must the mind, and vice versa. In practical terms, this leads to a teaching approach in which the student is required to constantly repeat "ideal" physical movements (kata) over and over. This constant repetition of "perfect" motion pulls the mind into the correct mindset: in other words, physical mastery leads to a spontaneous understanding of the underlying theory. The focus is on the physical demand: this is easy to evaluate and regulate in progress. Conversely, theory introduced too early, or in a way that is unclear to the student, is dangerous. Asked to think about something, the student automatically tries to extrapolate with very good odds of wrong conclusions being reached. For anything other than the most trivial of subjects, it verges on the impossible for the teacher to ascertain that the student's thoughts have remained on the proper course. Instead, any error will likely only come up much later, when the bad habits or mental state have become deeply ingrained. In the ideal, then, theory is discussed only very rarely, and it is never used to introduce new things. Rather, the teacher aims with the discussion to bring to a conscious level things that the student already understands. To move to a more immediate level, in the context of "talking about martial arts on the Internet," this has two implications when you ask someone who practices a koryu bujutsu a question about the teachings of their art. Firstly, you are asking them to teach you wrongly. Now, if you have no intentions of studying the art in question, this is probably a moot point. However, anyone who's ever been a teacher or an academic -- and many of those who've dealt with them -- has probably experienced the discomfort that comes when someone insists on getting an explanation that is accurate as far as it goes but just not right. Even if the answer is sufficient for the here-and-now, it risks putting the recipient in a place where they will be worse off in the future. If they do start studying the art, they will have misconceptions that cause problems. Especially relevant on the Internet, the 'Chinese whispers' effect on that initial not-really-accurate-but explanation could easily lead to some major mischaracterisations of the art. Secondly, they might quite literally not know how to answer. In principle, only very senior practitioners of an art will have reached the point at which they have a lucid conscious understanding of the theory which they spontaneously learned. Junior practitioners will often have been exposed to nothing; intermediate practitioners are usually in the state where they are mostly aware of how little they know. So: either they have no answer to give; they have an answer but are pretty sure it's not correct; or they know the answer and probably have better things to do than post on the Internet. I don't know if this will be interesting or useful to anyone -- or for that matter, if it is entirely correct, and I look forward to historians or practitioners of other arts telling me all the ways in which I am wrong (sincerely). The prompting for this post is that in general the people I have met and worked with who study koryu bujutsu have been friendly, genial people who at the heart of it love their art and enjoy sharing it. The "hidden initiations" aspect of koryu bujutsu can easily give an impression that runs counter to that, and I hope that this bit of context help makes it a bit more sensible for those without the inside experience.