Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Discussion on the three big Chinese internals, Yiquan, Bajiquan, Piguazhang and other similar styles.

Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby Trick on Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:30 am

GrahamB wrote:Then explain Judo. Once the shackles of the Tokugawa were off these self same 20th century businessmen, professors accountants, dentists had no problem being effective by using judo, which reintroduced free sparring.

There's nothing wrong with the techniques found in Koryu at all, it's the way you train something that makes it effective or not. Judo proved that.

Where did I read it(here on this forum maybe) ? that Kanō himself was disappointed by the further development of judo, about the lack of “shinken”? mentality by the younger practitioner when engaging in practice. Anyway isn’t/wasn’t all koruy weapon based ? The empty hand(jujutsu) way was secondary at best ? And judo came along when the sword was on the shelf ? Empty handed wrestling free sparring seem to be much safer than free sparring with sharp blades or even hard wood bokkens
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby middleway on Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:56 am

The history of Kendo includes an unbroken line of 'alive training' methods. The introduction of Shinai and Bogu was around the early to mid 1700's. And they were in consistant use since that time. The most clear example of Full contact training being the introduction of "Gekiken" to the Hokkushin Itto Ryu in 1820 before the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate with no persicution. If anything i would have thought the Tokugawa would have not wanted aliveness training in Kenjutsu to continue. Letting people scrap it out with their hands is one thing, people getting a good grounding in Sword techniques is quite another!

Is there any evidence of them suppressing aliveness training in anything other than the thought that Judo's success was down to this?

Its also important to emember, that the early Judo 'team' was made up of 'ringers'. Fighters from different styles of JuJutsu who were used in demonstrations and challange matches to popularise Judo in its very early years. These werent 'Judo Guys' in the main but still could fight in non-cooperative bouts and win. They joined Kano due to his influence and vision. Once Judo found favour with the upper classes, the lower classes realised they had access and followed suit where previously they would not have had much access to Budo.

As with everything historical, its not as clear cut as we may think.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Tue Jan 15, 2019 3:23 am

I don't know anything about Kendo Chris, however, you could also look at the introduction of bamboo swords and the removal of real ones as part of the control process that the Tokugawa loved so much - restraining, keeping in check. And if people wanted to start hitting each other hard with bamboo swords in 1820 then maybe they didn't see that sport-like activity as a threat? I don't know.

There are always exceptions for everything, but I think the overarching theme of Tokugawa suppression of society during its reign is correct.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby middleway on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:03 am

I don't know anything about Kendo Chris, however, you could also look at the introduction of bamboo swords and the removal of real ones as part of the control process that the Tokugawa loved so much - restraining, keeping in check. And if people wanted to start hitting each other hard with bamboo swords in 1820 then maybe they didn't see that sport-like activity as a threat? I don't know.

There are always exceptions for everything, but I think the overarching theme of Tokugawa suppression of society during its reign is correct.


The introduction of bamboo swords was alongside existing practices with Bokken and of course real steal. It was not enforced by the Tokugawa as a replacement for other practices.

I agree with societal suppression, but the suppression of 'aliveness' training in the martial arts? I think thats an unfounded stretch when we look at the whole picture.

Regardless, all fun to think about i guess.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:20 am

Chris - 'aliveness' was my word in the article, and probably comes with cultural associations and assumptions that Damon didn't mean. My bad.

In the podcast Damon talked about the 'stilted' look of Japanese martial arts - that was what he said more accurately.

Just to pick a video at random from the Internet:



I don't know who these guys are or what style - I don't think it matters - but I think it's fair to say a lot of stuff is like this. Why? The Tokugawa suppression theory explains why.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby middleway on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:40 am

I don't know who these guys are or what style - I don't think it matters - but I think it's fair to say a lot of stuff is like this. Why? The Tokugawa suppression theory explains why.


Another reason could be that this was for 'public consumpiton'. It was the fashion to act in this 'stiffled' way, look at the tea ceremony or Noh.

Check out the Judo Kata too :





IMO this sort of stiffled display was more to do with 'fashion' than Tokugawa suppression.

As we can see there could be many reasons for how things look.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Tue Jan 15, 2019 4:47 am

Damon mentions the judo kata in one of the podcasts. The ones they're kind of embarrassed about and nobody practices anymore. :)

They seem to be perfect examples of arts that have been Tokugawad :) These kata were passed down to judo from older Ryu. Can you imagine how they must have looked before the Tokugawa got hold of them? I bet they were petty different :)

And if that's fashion, I want my money back.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby Trick on Tue Jan 15, 2019 5:51 am

I say as graham says - I don’t know - I imagine - I’m not an historian. So I imagine that back in the battlefield heydays of Japan the broader/soldiers practice with the sword was somewhat as ‘stilted’ one attacks other defends and vice versa, then the aliveness “sparring” they got on the battlefields. That’s what I guess.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Tue Jan 15, 2019 11:44 am

GrahamB wrote:Ok, :)

I did put the "facts" in there as a cheeky reference to the URL, suspecting you'd say they were all wrong :)

I'll try and get Damon to respond to your post.


It's all good, Graham. I was getting grumpy last night as it was past my bedtime. Sorry for that.

So, all the stuff you are saying is stuff that was widely accepted from Postwar until around the 80s. There have been a lot of advancements made since then in terms of what things were actually like as opposed to what elite thinkers wrote down.

For example, I would certainly argue that Tokugawa authority eroded consistently even before the Genroku period (late Seventeenth Cen)--the opposite of what you mentioned.

I will certainly admit, the argument over Han vs Baku authority still rages at the highest levels of discourse. There is a great article on the Bakufu side of things by Ronald Toby called "Saving the Nation." In it, he assails the arguments for regional autonomy presented by Mark Ravina and Luke Roberts. They all have important points, and I suggest that the truth lies in the middle, and that this middle was a moving target across the span of the Edo period.

Many textbooks and undergraduate courses still teach that the four class system and a rigid system of controls was the lived experience in Edo Japan. It's just not so. I'm in the process of rewriting a paper refuting the four estates in Early Modern Japan I wrote for a seminar during my first MA and my major project has the nice side effect of refuting Neo-Confucianism as the central ideology of the early bakufu. Likewise, the notion of closed county (sakoku) has been handly debunked by Toby in State and Diplomacy in Early Modern Japan.

We just need to keep working at taking down the bad bricks one at a time.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Tue Jan 15, 2019 1:22 pm

No worries Ian :)

It's no surprise that cutting-edge academic debates on Japanese history 400 years ago are beyond my ken. I'll bow out of that!

Toby's book looks comprehensive, but let's be honest, I'm never going to read it - lol.

I had a quick look at an extract - and I'm not sure what revelations it contains but it seems from the extract to support the idea that the country closed down trade with the outside world (apart from that one small port the Dutch had), which doesn't mean of course that it stopped paying attention to what was going on and remained sensitive to it for security reasons.

CHAPTER FOUR The World Through Binoculars: Bakufu Intelligence and Japanese Security in an Unstable East Asia REBUILDING Edo Castle in 1657 without the great tower of its central keep stood as fitting symbol of the bakufu's success in the domestic arena, and of its concomitant sense of security from any credible internal threat. Domestic affairs were, after all, reasonably within the sphere of shogunal competence, and they caused little concern to Edo for the next century and a half or more. Yet there remained beyond Japan's shores potential sources of danger that the bakufu could not keep directly under control, but only under careful scrutiny. The threat from Europe was effectively contained after the 1630s by the expulsion of the Iberians from the Japan trade, by the limitations placed on Japanese overseas travel, and by the restriction of Dutch access to Japan to the single port of Nagasaki. Danger from Japan's maritime and continental neighbors in East Asia, however, could not be so readily contained, nor could it be lightly dismissed. The massive physical size of China, and the geographic proximity ofJapan to the entire East Asian region, were simple facts of the Japanese environment, but in the seventeenth century the region was particularly volatile. This volatility was not only a result of the presence of the Europeans; massive civil wars in Japan, in the late sixteenth century, had spilled over into Asia, while international and civil wars in and around China were a virtual constant from the mid 1610s The World Through Binoculars — 111 to the mid 1680s. These wars the bakufu could not ignore, for they might at any time overflow the continent and wash upon the shores of Japan. They imposed upon the bakufu a continuously threatening international environment, which made Asian affairs, especially continental affairs, a source of constant security concern to the Edo authorities, for Japan inevitably became peripherally involved in these contests, either as a haven for refugees, or as a potential source of military assistance to one belligerent or another. Several times, indeed, the bakufu was forced to debate the question of whether to involve Japan directly in the conflict, either as a combatant, or as a supplier of arms and materiel. The answer to those questions was not consistently negative. For even though Japan has never been successfully invaded , in fully historical times, from the Asian mainland, nor subject to a dynasty of foreign conquest, at least after the sixth century,1 still, despite this high degree of apparent security, changes in the strategic balance in continental East Asia have often affected Japan in significant ways. Some modern scholars, for example, credit a perceived threat from the unifying Sui and T'ang dynasties in China, and the Silla unification of Korea, in the sixth and seventh centuries, with catalyzing the emergence of the first unified Japanese state.2 But more recent, and of much greater significance in the consciousness of the Japanese of Tokugawa times, were the thirteenth-century Mongol invasions of Japan, the only fully historic, and therefore clearly remembered, attempt by a foreign power to conquer Japan.3 1 See Gari K. Ledyard, "Galloping Along with the Horseriders, Looking for the Founders of Japan," in Journal ofJapanese Studies, 1.2 (Spring 1975): 217-254, for an illuminating discussion of the thesis that Japan was under a conquest dynasty in the fourth and fifth centuries. 2 It is the position of Inoue Mitsusada, for example, that, "Japan's direct motive in adopting the ritsuryo system [of Chinese-style centralized bureaucratic state] was the foreign rather than the domestic situation." See his "The Ritsuryo System in Japan," in Acta Asiatica, 31 (1977): 93. 3 For an introduction to the impact of the Mongol invasions of 1274 and 1281, see Kyotsu Hori, "The Economic and Political Effects of the Mongol 112 — The World Through Binoculars The rise of the Manchus to form a unified state, their struggle for control of China proper, and the final total victory of the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911) in the 1680s forcefully recalled for contemporary Japanese the Mongol invasions of four centuries earlier. The Manchu conquest of China forced Tokugawa Japan to remain sensitive to the shifting strategic balance in the region, to remain vigilant, and to be constantly aware of the fact that she could not avoid a strategic relationship to her environment. While perceived threats to the security of the Tokugawa state had led to increasingly stringent restrictions on European relations, and...
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby Ian C. Kuzushi on Tue Jan 15, 2019 2:23 pm

His book clearly demonstrates that overall international trade during the Edo period actually increased. It's just that they strengthened their long-standing ties with the continent rather than allowing themselves to be plundered like the rest of Asia (sans select parts of SE Asia), ie: yes, they heavily restricted trade with the West. But, that trade was never on a massive scale anyway. At any rate, international trade was certainly something that was mostly controlled by the bakufu. So was marriage between lords, castle building, and forced attendance of hostages. Many other aspects were out of bakufu hands. Of course, if things got dire enough, the bakufu could attainder domains, but this became quite rare early on. I do wonder if there were edicts proscribing certain schools as there were with kabuki. The bakufu themselves even had official fencing schools (much like they eventually came to endorse the Hayashi school of Neo-Confucianism).
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby Trick on Wed Jan 16, 2019 3:37 am

Interesting era. While the Togukawa regime might have stagnated their own county’s martial development others nations such as Britain had an era of internationally polishing their guns and sharpen the bayonetes to spread its empire. The British as an military powerhouse even eventually invaded Tibet from which the Dalai Lama with the help of the Russians had to move in to exile to Mongolia.....Maybe also the British invasions of China had an suppressing role of the martial arts there, the martial arts traditions that we on this forum have come to love and try to uphold and bring forth.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:41 am

Trick,

Lots of European involvement in China obviously, not just British - the British were pretty much the main bad guys though :) opium wars, etc.

For martial arts it seems to have come to a head in the Boxer Rebellion. 1901.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxer_Rebellion

A good selection of articles on its effects on martial arts:

https://chinesemartialstudies.com/?s=boxer+rebellion

In particular the failure of the Boxer Rebellion inspired a move away from "superstitious beliefs" which eventually resulted in the Kou Shou movement.

"It is easy for current practitioners of the Chinese hand combat systems to distance themselves from these issues precisely because reformers spent much of the 1910s-1940s systematically redefining, rationalizing and modernizing their (supposedly still traditional) practices precisely to insulate them from such accusations coming from modernizers within Chinese society. In practice that meant distancing these practices from their roots in rural society, “superstitious beliefs” and any association with opera.

One suspects that it is not a coincidence that even dedicated historians find the subtle social relationships between the martial arts, opera and ritual practice difficult to reconstruct. Even more telling is how few people ask the question at all. Despite the almost subconscious habit of appending the term “traditional” to every written occurrence of the phrase “Chinese martial arts”, in practice most of us are comfortable reading a very modern view of these practices back through the centuries. "

Today we tend to think of Kou Shou as the "traditional arts" that were sadly ruined by Wu Shu. The fact of the matter is that it was Kou Shou that started the process of absolutely ruining the traditional Chinese martial arts.

Heretical, I know. :)
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby GrahamB on Wed Jan 16, 2019 5:09 am

btw Japan and Britain were best buddies at the time of the Boxer Rebellion (we both loved exploiting China), which explains why Jiujitsu was a Victorian fascination, and all those old clips of Victorian gentlemen doing Jiujitsu:

Image

British and Japanese forces engage Boxers in battle.
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Re: Japanese martial arts from battlefield to MMA

Postby vagabond on Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:58 am

who wrote "life giving sword"? that dude was a button for sure

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