Saturday, July 21, 2012

Faux, or No?

  I was recently commenting on the RyuTe Website Chat-Board in response to something that another RyuTe member had stated. His displeasure (?) was in regards to (Taika's) the RyuTe Association's policy of allowing Yudansha applicant's to retain their held rank from their previously studied system in RyuTe (when joining the RyuTe association).
  This policy, is one that has troubled member's since the inception of RyuTe. Personally, I think it's a policy that should come to an abrupt end. No other system that I have ever had experience with, will allow another system's Yudansha member to retain that (same) rank in their system, without an extensive amount of exclusive time being spent in that system (if not requiring them to abandon teaching their previous system).
  Having stated that, I understand why many RyuTe Yudansha haven't abandoned what they were teaching (before joining the RyuTe Association). It isn't being based on practicality, or functionality, it's simple finance. The “other” systems are easier to make money at.
  Those other system's are also easier to teach (well, maybe I should say learn). RyuTe isn't one of those systems that you can show your buddies by sparring with them (to show it's effectiveness). It isn't something that can be (correctly) taught to adolescents and then after an hour, once or twice a week be picked-up by their SUV driving  karate-Mom's.
  For some, teaching that other Crap is what pays for their ability to pay for (their) RyuTe lessons. And frankly, if after only a few months of lessons (commonly learning RyuTe's version of the kata, and a few Tuite and Combination Techniques) that person is better off NOT teaching their students RyuTe (until they do learn what the hell they're doing).
  I am curious to see if the New Dojo Policy Handbook deals with this issue (or if it's simply ignored, as it has been, for years). I've written previous blogs about the level of subject (specific) knowledge that the average Yudansha has, and frankly, I find it to be somewhat lacking.
  There have been a large number who changed nothing when stating that they were (now?) teaching RyuTe. Again, to be fair, when I first began teaching my latest “group” of conversion student's, I too believed it wouldn't be that big of a deal. And I was wrong.
  The minute differences in position(s), motions and (all around) basics was far more different than I had (at first) believed. Just observing the differences in how the Naihanchi kata are being taught/performed should be evidence enough that standards need to be established (and maintained).
  The most commonly ignored skill set, is the performance of Stances. It matter's not the rank/level of the performer, I've seen 6th and 7th degree Yudansha perform stances that look worse than those done by 9th kyu students.
  What I find worse, is the fact that many of those individual's were people that tested-in (when joining RyuTe) at a higher Yudansha ranking. I believe there's something to be said for “paying your dues”.
  I believe this (in numerous ways) goes back to why Taika had the association quit the practice of wearing Black Belts (and he wasn't a great fan of the colored Mudansha belts either).
  It should be obvious who the Yudansha member's are. By their abilities, their mannerism’s and from their attitude (and I don't mean any stuck-up, I'm better than you, “Attitude”).
  The purpose of a Yudansha grading, is illustrate a level of knowledge. It is not to illustrate an ability to provide instruction/guidance to others. Not everyone is skilled at doing so. Teaching, is an acquired skill set, it can't (really) be awarded. The fact that someone has been presented a Yudansha (level) ranking, does not make them an instructor. Nor does having a higher Yudansha ranking make that someone more knowledgeable. Only experience can provide the opportunity for that to happen. 
 For an "Insta-Dan" (of any level) to imply that they have equivalent training in RyuTe (as a long term member) would be disingenuous at best. 


Man of the West said...

I have mixed feelings about this sort of thing. My own instructor was a sandan in Japanese Goju Ryu when he made the change to RyuTe, and he became a yondan in the association when he came aboard. He's been in RyuTe for over thirty years now and has never looked back at Goju Ryu. I have often reflected, looking at what you've written, that your teaching style and emphasis and his are very similar. Also, if I have understood his explanation correctly, this practice began when Taika was first trying to recruit, for lack of a better word, good people into his organization. It is difficult to imagine how he could have foreseen that it would have such...interesting effects.

On the other hand, I can easily see how failure to resolve this issue could lead to, say, Goju Ryu-flavored RyuTe (allowing for the possibility of such a thing), taekwon-do-flavored RyuTe (God forbid...), etc., as some folks' ingrained habits go uncorrected. For the sake of the system's integrity, it seems to me that this has to be addressed.

Openhand said...

I agree with your instructor's reasoning as to why Taika allowed it to occur. The problem (IMO) was that Taika wasn't aware of how low the level of (knowledge) instruction was here (in America) at the time (compared to what he was used to). He wasn't aware of how many “fly by night”, “home-made” martial arts (and artists) there were here, that made claim to having “7th, 8th, and even 9th and 10th dan. In the early years, Taika wanted to trust and believe everybody that came to him, unfortunately most were full of shit, and were gone as quick as they came. This (understandably) caused some hesitation on Taika's part to teach any of his more involved techniques until (much) later.
Taika was also trying to build up his association at that time, to do that, you needed bodies. He quickly learned that quantity is far from being equal to quality. In these later years, he was getting quick to get rid of anybody that was in any way shady, or distrustful. He was deeply (emotionally) hurt by the betrayal and deception perpetrated by the last two member's that he kicked-out. It's for that reason, that anyone who has aligned with those individual's he held in deep disregard and shame (which was why, while he was alive those individual's could not be mentioned or discussed in his presence).
Not everyone that Taika accepted has turned out poorly, some are very much at the forefront of the association. I only feel that as recruitment policy, that practice needs to be changed/eliminated. I believe the association should be able to stand on it's own merit, without sacrificing it's credibility through any “shady” ranking practices of it's member's.

Anonymous said...

I think after 15 or 20 yrs, I don't believe there's a reason for formal lessons( at least for myself) guessing along w/ people just being part of the stress of being in organization w/ so much politics they moved on. Having said that most if any are qualified to brand their own system and I would never have confidence training w/ them. Master Oyata had enough loyalist in my opionion to keep ryu te going. Unless things just completely go crazy, which could easily happen. It was a business , bows who's suited to lead, did Taika appoint a governing body, it most cases masters don't. They know people don't get along. Sad state of affairs in karate