What is a "Koryu" Dojo?
Some of the earliest and some of the best texts on Japanese martial traditions were written by Donn Draeger in the early 70's. Certainly no researcher worthy of being read has written something that hasn't also generated intense debate. So it was with Draeger Sensei's discription of "koryu" vs. modern "budo".
It didn't help that the names of many arts were amended to add or drop "jutsu" or "do" from their names. Jodo for instance was the name that Shimizu Sensei amended "jojutsu" to in order to gain wider acceptance in a post -militaristic Japan and in keeping with a wider world view. Other arts added "jutsu" to sound older and to add a sense of having a deeper tradition than actually existed. Anyone caught trying to distinquish a classical art from a modern art using Japanese language was doomed to fail. Draeger Sensei certainly knew this as well or better than Westerner studying Japanese martial systems.
Martial traditions started to emerge in the late 12th century. The various han or fiefdom sought out the best to be teachers. Lessons taught were held in the greatest secrecy to maximize advantage over a future enemy. It really wasn't until the 17th century that these traditions became codified in how they were transmitted.
Young males of the warrior class were placed in stables with other young men to receive instruction in martial arts, strategy as well as a classical education. Group loyalty was the most important aspect of building an espirit de corps needed to have the confidence to vanquish enemies when put to war.
Today, the Rembukan Dojo recognizes that the students within the dojo must now balance the demands of life, work, and family with a desire to learn a martial tradition. Still there is no way around investing time in study in order to improve skills. Training is brutally honest as dividends are directly influenced by effort. The more you invest, the more you get and there are no shortcuts.
In our practice of Jodo and Iaido the dojo culture is quite simple - everyone shares! There is no internal structure to have one person compete at the expense of another. New skills are taught based upon merit not upon arbitrary rank. There is no paper contract but students are expected to support the dojo's events, take care of the facility and train privately, the lessons offered within the dojo. In the pursuit of technical excellence each student is expected to respect the
time given them by the instructors as time is the one thing that can't be replaced. Knowlege gained within the dojo is expected to remain private and not broadcast or shared with outsiders as in keeping with these martial traditions.
We are not a sports club and we're not interested in going to tournaments to collect trophies. We will selectively do public demonstrations as a way of adding a positive pressure to our training but we are a private dojo that resists efforts to mass market a product or create "Mc-budo". This places our dojo at odds with some of the noisier more pulbic groups that exist today. In short our dojo culture is not for everyone. The membership becomes a family of sorts. Despite coming from various backgrounds we train as a team to promote the best budo possible both within ourselves and in maintaining the integrity of the arts themselves.
At the Rembukan we like to say that we try not to change the budo but hope that the training in budo changes us!