Archive for June, 2011

London Ju Jitsu Martial Arts Tip Of The Week: What price tradition?

June 3, 2011

On Sunday 22nd March 2011 Sensei Quentin Ball of Hakuho Daito Ryu Aiki Ju Jutsu once again taught a seminar for us followed by an authentic demonstration of Japanese weapons techniques using Hanbo, Katana and Wakizashi. Sensei Ball studied for many years under Okabayashi Sensei in Japan and now teaches those techniques in the UK. This is a very different style of Ju Jitsu to the modern style taught at our school, but the benefit of learning even a small part of it is enormous.

Firstly it’s really helpful to understand the roots of the art you study. This often enlightens us as to why a technique is done a certain way and helps us to refine and improve it. As an example in Ju Jitsu we have defences from wrist grabs. When these techniques were developed the opponent would grab your wrists in order to prevent you from drawing or using your weapon. Once you understand that and also understand that the opponent would do everything in their power not to let go as that would leave you free to use your weapon, then the techniques make much more sense. Of course the technique may need to be adapted for modern use but knowing the history helps our understanding and that in turn makes it more enjoyable!

Secondly learning a martial art can sometimes resemble a game if Chinese whispers. As each generation teaches, small modifications or misunderstandings may occur until the technique may no longer resemble the original. As an example I studied Shotokan Karate for a couple of years and there was often debate about the practical uses for movements in the various Kata. Learning techniques in the traditional manner should mean we’re closer to the source when the techniques were used in battle situations. Because they’re closer to the source they may be more precise and suitable for defence than later more “sportified” or modern versions. It’s not a one way street of course. In martial arts as with life we
must evolve and adapt or die. Techniques and training methods can and do improve over time as well. Also the traditional techniques must be adapted for the modern world and more modern forms of attack. If you can experience both and get a view of the journey from the ancient to the modern form of your art I believe your understanding of that art and therefore your ability to apply it will be improved. Even in Japan and other countries in the East a lot of this knowledge is dying as the older generations die. So if you get the opportunity to train in the ancient as well as the modern styles you should grab those opportunities with both hands!