01 September 2010
When Shimizu Sensei opted into the idea of incorporating Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo (SMRJ) into the All Japan Kendo Federation (AJKF) he knew about the controversies this action would create.
Besides his desire to see Jodo grow worldwide after seeing and teaching such deserving students as Donn F. Draeger et al. he was truly concerned that such a small membership of practitioners within Japan might dwindle to obscurity. Many of his contemporaries, even close associates opposed his decision to “popularize” Jodo under the much larger Kendo umbrella. There were two main concerns voiced; first that many kendoka (kendo practitioners) performed waza (technique) at odds with Koryu(older)traditions, (ie. A higher stance floating the hips and having a raised rear ankle) and second that over time Jodo would lose its identity within the larger political framework.
What perhaps was not recognized then, was that the power of a Menkyo Kaiden (highest teachers license) to decide and act in any way he saw fit might also threaten tradition. Historically speaking, Menkyo (highest written makimono) were not offered for each of the associated arts found within SMRJ. It was expected that upon earning a Menkyo within SMRJ that mastery of these other arts was already obtained. That is not to say that written recognition did not exist or that names weren’t added to densho (genealogy scrolls) or written record within a group butMenkyo licenses weren’t made specificallyand separately for Isshin Ryu Kusarigamajutsu for example.
Today some “professional” teachers have compromised and have started the wholesale selling of makimono in general both for financial profit and to establish “territories” outside the main dojo (training halls) and particularly outside of Japan where it is accepted with a nod and a wink that the inflated licenses aren’t as real as if it was awarded to a Japanese student.
It isn’t disputed that the Menkyo Kaiden has the power to establish curriculum and set policy. If a teacher commands that his students wear pink hakama (training uniform like culottes) then the student is obliged to comply. This writer wonders if Shimizu Sensei for his love of Jodoand his fear of it’s possible demise anticipated some of the changes that have come about in order to see this wonderful art survive into the 21st century or what form it will take in the future?