Monday, June 8, 2009

Akakkubi Ryu Kenjutsu*?! Is nothing sacred?!

Rhetorical question, of course. I, and no doubt many other jaded infidels around the world, am perfectly aware that the very concept of 'sacred' is just another convenient human delusion. But I do love martial arts and am especially partial to anything to do with kendo, i.e. anything to do with the arts of Japanese swordsmanship.

I love the history and culture behind the sword, the atmosphere of the dojo, the practical wisdom bought in countless duels and battlefields, the rush of crossing swords with strong opponents... And I love the fact that a Japanese dojo is a bastion of quiet**, graceful, secular spirituality in an increasingly stupid world.

As such, I do sympathize with the Japanese masters when they lament the corruption of their fighting arts as they spread overseas. Those who have observed the tides of cultural evolution will shrug and say that this is an inevitability, like the spawning of well over 300 styles of kung fu (wushu? Never was too clear on that point...) in China, some of which, to be brutally honest, have as much practical use as a knife made out of yoghurt. The fighting arts, and the accompanying code of ethics, become warped into new forms as they are passed from one person to the next. Without the crucible of combat to separate the chaff from the wheat, even the most freakishly absurd mutations of the original forms are allowed to survive, when ordinarily they shouldn't.

The days of storming dojos and bellowing challenges to rival masters are long gone, but the Japanese obsession with doing things properly (aizuchi) ensures the general purity and integrity of their martial arts and the accompanying philosophy. However, it seems that outside of Japan, karate has turned into something else. Once upon a time, kata was an austere, physically demanding form of moving meditation, a way to polish up technique and concentration.

Seems to me that in certain quarters, the focus has shifted somewhat:

Frankly, I'm not sure if this is karate. Wearing the pyjamas and the belt does not make the karateka. I enjoy seeing good tricks and hats off to them for such displays of skill, strength and agility and all but, I'm not sure this is karate.

Call me naive, but I came to the conclusion years ago that the only reason of merit to learn how to fight is so one never has to fight. In the arduous journey of learning the rigours of combat, one should come to understand that fighting is not a real solution to this world's problems, and that the very worst adversary you will ever face, the one who will defeat you before you've even raised a fist or sword, the one who will hound you, mock you, poison your mind, cripple you with doubt, whither you with apathy, tear at you constantly until your dying day is yourself.

I find many Eastern martial arts take great pains to teach this harsh and valuable lesson, hence I do feel a wee twinge of irritation at the sight of a McDojo. Even more so when said McDojo doesn't even bother making any effort towards authenticity, as evidenced by some so-called "karateka" who cannot even pronounce 'katana' or 'bokken' presuming to teach how to use a katana, which for some odd reason is missing it's tsuba (hand guard).

This charming practitioner of the ancient art of posing with a sword not only tries to pass off his antics as a genuine martial art, but does so in the name of a certain Jewish zombie king. It's also more than a bit telling that he doesn't even know the difference between a bokken and a shinai. For those of you who don't already know this, observe. This is a shinai (lit: Bamboo blade):

And these are bokken*** (Lit: Wooden sword):

Apparently, his school is called 'Yeshuas Ryu Karate'. The age old theist pastime of lying for [insert messiah of choice here] opens a new front. I think I'd rather stick to my name for it - Akakkubi Ryu Karate. If nothing else, at least the name is honest and gives a true and fair indication of exactly what these people are about.

Oh, and as an added slap in the face for people like me, Redneck-san up there has a whole series of videos all on Expert Village. Suffice it to say, I no longer trust a damn word from Expert Village.

Tres Tew, ah facepalm at yew...

* Literally:- Redneck Style Sword Technique. No that's not what they call themselves, I just made that one up. I think it kinda fits.

** Not literally, of course...

*** I got the white one for my birthday. Isn't it pretty? ^-^

No comments: