Translation of an article from February 2014. The reason for writing it where discussions on certain social media about the preservation of Koryû schools and the means to do this (or not).
Jibun no ryûha o mamoru is a simple japanese phrase meaning: Protecting (defending) one’s own school.
This can mean different things: First, the own Ryûha needs to be protected against external and internal threats.
Second: If all the different schools work hard and do everything possible to expand their OWN school and grow dedicated students, no one needs to be worried about the preservation of Koryû (in its entirety).
Especially the second meaning of the sentence “Jibun no ryûha o mamoru” is considered selfish and narrow-minded on certain Koryû discussion boards in social media. But… is it really?
Let me outline my reasoning:
If the own school rank first, does it mean one is not interested in other schools? Of course not! But this accusation often exists.
I find it quite interesting to watch other schools and to discover how they deal with certain situations other than us. But frankly, the need to check out Koryû videos has waned considerably, usually due to a mix of time constraints and a kind of “sensory overload”.
Time constraints, because beside work, family and friendships one needs to give his best in training and expand his knowledge of the own school. And when there is some free time to relax, Koryû videos are really not on top of the list…
Sensory overload, because some years ago one was able to see new Enbû videos a few times a year. Now you get them almost weekly. Eventually, you have seen almost all the existing schools. Also, by now it should be known that the schools do not create a new, action-packed program from their whole curriculum for each Enbû. Basically it will always be the same (Omote-)Kata you will see. For newbies this is probably all very exciting. For me (and others I guess) not so much anymore.
Recently, in said social media the popular opinion prevails that all Koryû without exception have to be preserved for generations to come. Instinctively one might agree to that! But: How should this worthy cause be fulfilled? According to the opinion of some this is pretty simple: There just need to be enough videos around…
There is an interesting show on german TV called “Der Letzte seines Standes” (Last of his kind). Traditional craftsmanship and the few who still practice them are presented. I was reminded of this show after all those discussions and was wondering if now these crafts will survive due to this german TV station. Well, most probably not, right? These are just fine documentaries which are quite nice to watch. That’s all.
Am I concerned if other Ryûha die out and get lost in history? No, not really. Why should I?
Because it is the sole responsibility of each individual school if it survives or not and if they are able to hand over the torch to able pupils. In the long history of Bujutsu Ryûha, the ones still existing today are in fact the very exceptional cases. Because extinction happens way faster than survival.
From an historical point of view it might be a pity if schools get lost. But what can I or anyone else really do about it except to watch some pretty videos? Maybe join and study another two or three schools on the side? Before anyone now shouts YES!… think shortly about your own Ryûha. Nothing else to learn there anymore? No feeling of belonging anymore?
You see, it’s not easy at all to even guarantee the survival of your very own school, let alone all schools that exist.
Do not misunderstand me. I’m not saying there is no point in making films about Koryû.
But people really need to understand WHY and HOW such schools survive or perish. Because a healthy and continued existence has nothing to do with any kind of Youtube videos.
My bottom line: Don’t try and save all the Koryû out there… try it with just one and stick to it. Good luck.