No Koryu Committee that Certifies Documents

Discussion in 'Koryu Bujutsu' started by Ellis Amdur, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Ellis Amdur

    Ellis Amdur Valued Member

    In a thread over at the ninjutsu forum, it was posted:
    I've seen this statement over and over again - or one like it - but it's not based on fact. [Whether Hatsumi actually said it or not, I've got no idea, but this "necessary requirement blah blah blah," is not so].

    As has been stated in the thread, many schools do not have makimono from earlier generations. Many menkyo holders only have the scroll or document their teacher gave them. In fact, most of the schools I am aware of that have documents from centuries past are family schools, or more likely, an individual purchased documents from previous generations at antique shops or estate sales.

    Now, as for authentication, who is going to do this? There is no koryu committee, no central repository, nor is there an authorizing body, of scholars to whom one sends one's scrolls to be carbon 14 dated. However, there are organizations, such as the Kobudo Shinkokai. Let's say I want to join as a member of Toda-ha Buko-ryu. I present the menjyo that Nitta sensei gave me. If my lineage is sound, and the school historically verified, that's it. I don't have to have documents of previous generations in my possession. However, problems would arrive were I to claim membership of a school of which there are no historical accounts, no older documents in museums, collections, whatever. OR - if I claimed to be the lineal successor of a school, which has a historical gap - for example, "yes, it existed in 1670, but it died out." And here I show up in 2011 with no proof, beyond, perhaps my teacher, that it existed in the interim.

    Thus, if I show documents without support (either bringing them in to another location, or inviting people to my home to view them), then I won't be able to join the club. And that's all it is - a dues paying club, that has certain criteria to join.

    As for Mr. Hatsumi, I'm not posting this to discuss his legitimacy - I bowed out of that discussion a long time ago. I'm simply posting to contradict the suggestion that his legitimacy hangs on the word of a mythic committee which demands one hand over one's personal documents. None such exists.

    Ellis Amdur
  2. Kwajman

    Kwajman Penguin in paradise....

    I personally don't care about lineage and such. MA's have been watered down so much over the years that I dont' think saying you trained under so and so who trained with whats his name, etc really matters anymore.
  3. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    I agree to an extent

    I wonder if it matters in the BJJ/MMA "camp"?
  4. fifthchamber

    fifthchamber Valued Member


    Thank you for the re-confirmation...

    It is usually mentioned at one point or another in the threads where the "authentication" thing is brought up and asked about, but it'll be easier to have this as a thread start post to refer random types to when asking....

    I think the problem lies not in the telling of these facts, but in the reception of them...Some people don't care to listen and when you mention it, they miss it, or blur it, or straight out ignore it.....I couldn't say which...

    But it's certainly a good thing to have the cold facts listed by someone with some weight behind that voice..Thank you for that.


    (And Kwajman, regardless what you think about lineage, there is NO doubt that other people DO put considerable weight behind "lineage and such", and Ellis' post is for them I would say.. In general, in Koryu circles as well, no real "care" is put into worrying about it..It "is" or it "ain't"....But other people do worry..And the post is for them I reckon.)
  5. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Valued Member

    Kwajman and 47MartialMan, I would probably suggest that you see which section Mr Amdur has put this post/thread in for context. When it comes to verifying that something is a Koryu or not, lineage (and ways of establishing it) can be very important. Remember that these arts are not about self defence in a modern context or form, nor about necessarily "beating" someone (an attacker or similar). They are about continuation and preservation of a body of knowledge and experience.

    Simply, it doesn't matter whether or not MMA or BJJ worries about this type of thing... although, for the record, you may try going around telling people that you trained under Helio Gracie, even though you've never left West London, and see how they react. Whether or not you can fight isn't the point, it's the credibility involved in the claims. It's really the same type of thing, just on a different scale.
  6. 47MartialMan

    47MartialMan Valued Member

    Ah. I understand, but I had to go off on other tangibles
  7. Ellis Amdur

    Ellis Amdur Valued Member

    I used to do muay thai and judo (at the recommendation of my koryu teacher), and I am learning BJJ now. Koryu training is no more a historical artifact to me than BJJ.
    I care about lineage, because I don't like to learn from liars. I also care about effectiveness of technique, because I don't want to practice a lie.
    Ellis Amdur
  8. Dave Humm

    Dave Humm Serving Queen and Country

    That's a damn fine quote right there.
  9. Chris Parker

    Chris Parker Valued Member

    Agreed. In trying to explain my actions and posts towards new members on another forum in this thread ( I said that, to me, Koryu are about as honest a form of martial art as you can get. Not sure if they understood that, though...

    EDIT: Don't clip the link if you want an unruffled day free of screaming and face-palming. Seriously.
  10. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    Done it, loved it.

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