Will koryu teachers teach students with tattoos?

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by kuoshu, Mar 27, 2007.

  1. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member

    Again, gentlemen, I have to say 'excellent' to the last two posts :tup:.

    EDIT: last two posts bar one.

    Getting used to the 'mindset' of koryu takes some doind - indeed, only a couple of years ago I was arguing quite vociferously that the Katori Shinto schools attitudes were wrong (in not recognising the ha that had sprung from it).

    Now, altho' I still think it's a problem of the schools own making to an extent, I fully concur that the head of the school has the right to make any 'call' he wishes on matters of policy (I'm sure that all those headmasters will breath much easier knowing that :D).

    That is entirely the point of maintaining lineage, when all is said and done.
  2. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    Bye then.
  3. saru1968

    saru1968 New Member

    I know things work differently in Japan but i wonder how in the UK(europe) the stance would be openly refusing someone on the basis on a tattoo. I wonder if that could be viewed as discrimination?

    Same as some men's golf clubs HAD to allow women in. And they were 'private clubs'.

    Be interesting to look up any case studies on the matter.

    Might see what i can dig up.
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2007
  4. saru1968

    saru1968 New Member

    Nothing wrong with the post you refer to,I see the point of view.

    Might well be a Japanese art but its in a western world, with western mindsets.
  5. Rock Ape

    Rock Ape Banned Banned

    In your opinion.. BUT, entry into koryu has to be earned and if it isn't then generally the teacher doesn't give a toss, and then I wouldn't want to be a part of that.

    Your attitude is typical of the western mentality of “I have the right” I think you’ll find that won’t cut it in koryu especially so in Japan.

    Students of koryu undergo tests of character, they may not know it but they do - learning forms/kata [whatever] isn't a test, adherence to the policies of the ryu-ha most definitely are and, if students aren't up to the task - unlucky.

    I suppose you’d disagree with keppan - having to seal your commitment to a particular ryu-ha in your own blood ?
  6. Rock Ape

    Rock Ape Banned Banned

    YOU might see the point of view but a Japanese Shihan probably won't. As far as "mindsets" are concerned, you might as well not bother buying your keikogi and attempting koryu with that particular stance. It just won't wash.
  7. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member

    No criticism directly meant, Saru. Sgt's post sprang up whilst I was typing mine and I simply clarified which posts I was talking about.

    As it happens, I am new enough to koryu arts (well 'ish' as there is considerable dispute these days as to whether MJER is koryu or not) to see both sides of the fence.

    I can understand where the attitude succinctly expressed by Sgt comes from but, as has been clearly stated by others, such a point of view has no impact on the head of a koryu school.

    He will quite happily not take you on if you have such an approach as he is only after those students who are ready to begin tuition under whatever restrictions the school sees fit.

    It's a hard thing to comprehend if you are only used to 'commercial' schools or the 'Nanny State' enforced 'anyone can do anything' ethos.
  8. Aegis

    Aegis River Guardian Admin Supporter

    I really am curious as to how getting tattoos is grounds for being booted out of a club... Seriously, I just do not understand how it affects the student's dedication to the style, their respect for the sensei, or anything to do with the participation in the martial art. The only possible reason I can see is that it requires some time off training, but unless you require 52 week per year attendance with no possibility of a break at all, I still fail to see why this would be a problem.
  9. Stevebjj

    Stevebjj Grappling Dummy

    I would be very interested if someone could give the American slant on this. As far as I'm aware, the instructor of an MA school would be well within his/her rights to kick you out for tattoos, or whatever else as long as it's not race, religion, age or a few other categories. I don't thing body art is covered under any anti-discrimination laws in the USA. I'm interested in whether they are in Europe.
  10. Tommy-2guns...

    Tommy-2guns... southpaw glassjaw

    I would personally say a tattoo would be very very low on logical reasons to kick someone out of your dojo, fair enough in some respects if they come to join your dojo covered in tatoo's then maybe it would be a problem for the hardcore amongst thee koryu sensei,but a student who has already shown dedication and ability at your dojo and then kicking him out because he decides to get a tattoo, i think that is little bit lame. I think that although transfering customs and culture to another country along with the martial art is a good thing i think it should be accepted that the culture will never fully transfer oversea's.

    I respect that culture's will have opposing views to ones i know and hold dear, it just seems like a really trivial reason to accept or deny someone based on ink on the skin whatever the overseas connotations . Isn't it just as irrelervant as skin colour in regard to how a student will behave?. surley you cant assume to transfer those negative connotations to a completely different race and culture. clinging on to a stereotypical prejudice from japan cant be the best way to keep the respect of western students can it?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  11. Rock Ape

    Rock Ape Banned Banned


    No offence intended but you're missing some very important points.

    Koryu has nothing to do with being in a "club" - correct study of a koryu isn't intended to be a hobby. (although it may be studied as a part time endeavour for many people)

    Respect of "western student's" attitudes isn't the priority of a particular Ryu-ha

    Rules or policies of koryu-ha have nothing to do with discrimination

    Acceptance into a ryu-ha is purely at the discretion of the headmaster

    Whether we as westerners disagree with the cultural influences which exist in koryu, the fact remains that those systems physically belong to individuals or families and, they have that final say over who is permitted to learn.
    And that's just the way it is.
  12. pgsmith

    pgsmith Valued dismemberer

    It is all in the difference between a koryu school, and just about anything else. It is almost impossible to understand how the koryu work without knowing something about them. I'll try and stick it in a nutshell, but there will still be an awful lot of people that just won't be able to understand it ...

    The koryu work within the ryu system, which goes back hundreds of years in Japan. The koryu themselves were originally, and still are to a lesser or greater extent depending upon the school, both political as well as familial entities. Any particular koryu school existed solely for the sake of the school. Anything that was done was done for the sake of the school. Most of the koryu still operate in this manner, as they have for hundreds of years. This is why they are still around hundreds of years later. The soke is still the ultimate decision maker. The arts are still taught in the same way they've been handed down from the past. The koryu are steeped in tradition, because they've had a long time to attain those traditions. They care nothing about the respect of western students. If you wish to train in the koryu, you have to be accepted and train in the way they have trained in the past. Doesn't matter one bit whether you like it or not, the soke is going to see to it that the ryu is preserved as it has been through all the other soke that the ryu has had. It is not individuals clinging to stereotypical prejudices, it is the soke. His outlook is the outlook of the ryu. If the soke thinks that only people with a yakuza outlook wear tattoos (as has been the case in Japan for centuries), then he isn't going to allow anyone with tattoos to join the ryu. Soke says no, then you're outta here.

    With all that being said, each ryu is a completely separate entity. Each ryu has their own ideas, outlook, and motivations. Just because one ryu does something one way, that doesn't mean they all do, or even that any of the others do. It just means that one school does things that way. But you always have to remember, any decision or action of a koryu school is designed to benefit the ryu. It's why they still exist, and is why they'll still be here long after I'm gone. :)
  13. fifthchamber

    fifthchamber Valued Member

    What everyone else has said.
    Koryu and those that teach them tend not to need to care much about whether you join the "club" or not...That's not what they are here for, so like it or not, if your instructor had an issue with something you do or have done, either to your body or to someone elses then that would be final. You would not be "booted from the club" because you would never be in in the first place.
    That said, as Steve points out many teachers in modern Japan at least recognise that a tattoo is not quite as evil a thing as it used to be in the past. In Japan, the majority of those who bear heavy ink are yakuza, gangsters, and a koryu dojo would be better off without them in it's training.
    However, sometimes (for example, smaller, easily hidden and essentially less "aggressive") tattoos are allowed. It is always at the decision of your teacher, but if you have a small tattoo that can be easily hidden and would not become an embarrassment during a demonstration or keiko, and if your training is solid and good enough to be a benefit to the ryuha then you may be allowed to train.
    I have seen both examples, and have a tattoo myself, small and on my right upper arm, that interfers with nothing and is obviously not a gang tattoo, and I have been asked to cover it up in Onsen (Public baths), and I mind who sees it in Japan...I have also seen a demo with demonstrators whose tattoos covered a large part of the body and although covered the impression was less one of a good solid ryuha demo and more that a bunch of thugs had mistakenly worn hakama to a mugging..
    The choice of a tattoo says something about who you are and who you want to be thought of. If the Ryuha is okay with that being part of it then all is well. If not then that is final.
    In or out..It was always a choice with you and these things should be understood to have an impact upon those who know you.
  14. Kogusoku

    Kogusoku 髭また伸びた! Supporter

    A koryu isn't just a bunch of techniques and kata that are learned and preserved. It's not an antique that you polish, shine, lock away in a cupboard to keep it pristine, bring it out for certain functions and say, "this is how bushi fought in the sengoku-jidai" like your mother with her grandmother's finest bone china.

    There is a certain "flavour" to a koryu, a set of behavorial patterns and mindsets that are unique to that one ryuha, contained in the kata, reiho and densho. Also, some koryu have henka-oyo waza for modern paradigms. Naturally, most of these are jujutsu ryuha.

    You should already know this, since the system you study has nine, succinctly different mindsets, behavorial patterns and kata. We are who we are, we adapt our mindsets to our current environment, but of course certain aspects and attitudes are preserved are they not? Isn't that the essence of a ryuha?
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  15. fifthchamber

    fifthchamber Valued Member

    It might be added that there is a certain arrogance that comes from the expectation that something that has survived for (in some cases) 400 years would be so willingly changed to suit these "western mindsets" as well...
    In many regards the koryu, and those who teach them have indeed changed with the times, but that should mean an equal (at least) attempt to adapt to what is required by those of us in the West who intend to follow them..That is also a nature of these arts, and why they are not for everyone..
    We should be as willing to embrace and adapt to them as they are to adapt to us, and if that cannot or will not be done then the Koryu are not a wise choice for training, in my own humble opinion.
  16. Sgt_Major

    Sgt_Major Ex Global Mod Supporter

    Its not my 'western mindset' - its basic common decency. My body art has no determination in the way I lead my life. Do they turn you down if you have a shaved head? male pattern baldness? are female? are pregnant? had an abortion?

    Sounds like the head guy gets off on a power trip to me.
  17. Lord Spooky

    Lord Spooky Banned Banned

    Sorry Sgt it is your western mindset. You are looking at it from a specific cultural view and that is skewing what you perceive to be decent. It's already been pointed out that some in Japan associate having a tattoo with having a certain mindset or belonging to a specific social group that they wouldn’t want to be associated with their Ryu.

    To them your body art could very well be an indicator of how you live your life.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  18. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Given that much of Japan is not keen on tattoo's because of the obviousl linkage to the Yakuza... it's not surprising that some schools are not keen on students with ink.

    I mean there are any number of hotels and bathhouses that flat out won't let you in if you have tattoo's. Period. Doesn't matter who you are... got ink? No entry. I have any number of western friends that were shocked to find this out... how westerners perceive ink and how the Japanese in Japan perceive ink are two very different things.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2007
  19. ScottUK

    ScottUK More human than human...

    What are we talking about here? Have I missed something?

    If I enter into an agreement with a teacher, be they koryu or not, I understand I will have to meet certain criteria of the way I purport myself, the effort I put in and what I want from the study. If I don't meet these requirements, I run the risk of being replaced by someone else (who does meet them) as my teachers only have so much time to give, and I'm sure they'd rather be teaching someone who fits the bill.

    If my teacher has an issue with a certain type of hat and requests that his students not wear this hat, if you break his wishes for the sake of fashion you run the risk of him saying bye.
  20. Sgt_Major

    Sgt_Major Ex Global Mod Supporter

    Perhaps I simply see it of a means to giving someone else control over what I do, this to me is unacceptable as I am becoming their puppet, not my own person.

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