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Thread: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Personally, I study martial arts for more than just learning how to fight.
    I really enjoy the traditions and learning about another culture.
    There is also a different kind of discipline in a traditional japanese dojo that isn't present in a TKD, sport karate, or EPAK dojo.
    Some might disagree with my assessment......but it's my assessment.
    I think it's really about instilling a sense of "self" discipline in a student.....no one is forcing them to be there and follow protocol, but if they stick it out, they will learn more than just swinging there arms and legs around.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Broad
    With out stating a major flame war, I have a question.

    Does all this tradition at the beginning and or end of class help the student in any real way?
    I puts you in the mindset for training and pay respect to those who have provided the art to you.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcatbonz
    I think that if you want to teach something as traditional you're selling the students short by eliminating certain elements.
    Did you have a shinto shrine in your dojo with kami that needed awakening?
    I think that is bringing in a religious element that some people might balk at.
    Strictly speaking, it is not a wholly Japanese art, though (it's Okinawan). The general idea is that once one enters the interior teachings it is not necessary to adhere to Japanese methods of purification. You do preserve a place for martial ancestors at the kamiza, but without an actual shaman being around, there's not really much to be done except for periodic offerings. Furthermore, in an outdoor (which is preferred) location in North America, there are not any purpose built local shrines, and personally, not I don't have the native religious feeling, since I don't believe in devotional religion. My teacher did believe that charismatic shamanism was a natural part of the practice, but I don't (and I find the technical aspect of it to be taxing and time-consuming as well as not among my goals as a martial artist).

    In the end, though, I think the important thing is to be familiar with this material, but ask yourself why you might want to practice it. If you don't actually practice or believe (by keeping a shrine at home, or instance), then the practice is really more of an organizational thing. I agree that people should know about this stuff, but if it isn't their bag or part of the core customs of instruction, I don't think it's necessary. Nowadays, these customs are useful to keep people focused when they come from a bunch of different backgrounds.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by eyebeams
    Strictly speaking, it is not a wholly Japanese art, though (it's Okinawan). The general idea is that once one enters the interior teachings it is not necessary to adhere to Japanese methods of purification. You do preserve a place for martial ancestors at the kamiza, but without an actual shaman being around, there's not really much to be done except for periodic offerings. Furthermore, in an outdoor (which is preferred) location in North America, there are not any purpose built local shrines, and personally, not I don't have the native religious feeling, since I don't believe in devotional religion. My teacher did believe that charismatic shamanism was a natural part of the practice, but I don't (and I find the technical aspect of it to be taxing and time-consuming as well as not among my goals as a martial artist).

    In the end, though, I think the important thing is to be familiar with this material, but ask yourself why you might want to practice it. If you don't actually practice or believe (by keeping a shrine at home, or instance), then the practice is really more of an organizational thing. I agree that people should know about this stuff, but if it isn't their bag or part of the core customs of instruction, I don't think it's necessary. Nowadays, these customs are useful to keep people focused when they come from a bunch of different backgrounds.
    that is a great point......ritual is a part of self discipline. When you introduce it into one area of your life, it carries over into other parts.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Hi Shawn,

    We used to call it a Tokonoma when I had it set up more as a teaching aid. Mike Brown taught me a few years ago that this is what most people really have in their dojos.

    When I opened my new school I wanted my tokomoma to take on more of an alter type theme. I felt it was important for me to include the spiritual side of things, at least for myself, as I am a buddhist.

    I personally believe that one cannot truly connect to the art of martial arts without having a spiritual connection. In my studies I have found that by opening up and letting something bigger than me guide my motion has worked wonders. Hanshi Juchnik has a term in his strategies text called "Spirit-guided Movement". I don't think his definition is the same as mine, but they are very similar.

    I didn't know that a shinza and kimiza were the same. I thought a kamiza was more of a "seat for the gods" and a shinza was more of an alter - with whatever meaning a person gave to it.

    Thanks!


    -John

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Kosho-Monk
    Hi Shawn,

    1.We used to call it a Tokonoma when I had it set up more as a teaching aid. Mike Brown taught me a few years ago that this is what most people really have in their dojos.

    When I opened my new school I wanted my tokomoma to take on more of an alter type theme. I felt it was important for me to include the spiritual side of things, at least for myself, as I am a buddhist.

    I personally believe that one cannot truly connect to the art of martial arts without having a spiritual connection. In my studies I have found that by opening up and letting something bigger than me guide my motion has worked wonders. Hanshi Juchnik has a term in his strategies text called "Spirit-guided Movement". I don't think his definition is the same as mine, but they are very similar.

    2.I didn't know that a shinza and kimiza were the same. I thought a kamiza was more of a "seat for the gods" and a shinza was more of an alter - with whatever meaning a person gave to it.

    Thanks!


    -John
    1. The tokonoma is influenced by the buddhist religion, sometimes it would house a butsudan, which in turn would hold the names of deceased family members, offers were given, etc.

    2. Kamiza or Shinza is more of a shinto thing........Lighting candles and offerings would be given to the kami of the family or house.

    The 2, somewhere down the line have connected, and influenced one another. Shinto is the japanese religion and it is a part of the culture, Buddhism is an adopted religion but it has influenced Shinto and vice versa.

    Here are some links:
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/b/butsudan.htm
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/k/kamidana.htm
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/t/tokonoma.htm

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcatbonz
    1. The tokonoma is influenced by the buddhist religion, sometimes it would house a butsudan, which in turn would hold the names of deceased family members, offers were given, etc.

    2. Kamiza or Shinza is more of a shinto thing........Lighting candles and offerings would be given to the kami of the family or house.

    The 2, somewhere down the line have connected, and influenced one another. Shinto is the japanese religion and it is a part of the culture, Buddhism is an adopted religion but it has influenced Shinto and vice versa.

    Here are some links:
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/b/butsudan.htm
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/k/kamidana.htm
    http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/t/tokonoma.htm


    Hi Guys,

    A tokonoma has nothing whatsoever to do with Buddhism. If anything, you can track it's history to animistic beliefs more closely related to shintoism and early architecture. Today some families do use the alcove for their religious articles as well. But strictly speaking, the tokonoma itself is not a religious symbol. A kamidana and shinden is. As is a butsuden.

    "Tokonoma" originally meant "Bed-place." According to accounts in the Kojiki, it was the area that was originally used as a sleeping quarters in ancient Japan when houses were not nearly as warm and spacious as they are today. The Tokonoma was a protected Bedchamber where the commoner would sleep on the tatami (tatami were at a premium back then). As time went forward and space was more affordable the sleeping area moved further out into the room. At this later date, the area known as the tokonoma became smaller and was used for storing important family items. It eventually came to be used for the focal point of the room.

    The Toko-bashira or middle post was originally the first post that was used to build the house. The post was usually left in it's most natural state to remind the home owner that all of the materials used in the home were a gift from nature. The timbers that extend outward from the tokonoma would usually become more refined and planed to better suite their utilitarian function. And once again remind the occupant that even the planed wood comes from the natural state and a gift from the environment. As the architecture became further refined the appreciation of sabi-wabi dictated that the toko-bashira become the focal point of the tokonoma. So the post that was originally the most rustic became ornamentation and a mark of refinement. Within the tokonoma, the flower arrangement should remind the onlooker that all things are temporary and transient (no artificial flowers here). The artwork represents the changing seasons and the architecture the gifts of nature. Nothing here is representative of Buddhism unless you relate death and transience as strictly buddhist beliefs.

    The tokonoma was usually accompanied by a smaller alcove known as a chigaidana or little shelf area. The combinations are limitless and the rules for the construction of them are relentless. But as is everything else in the Japanese culture, being able to be creative within the boundaries of conformity was considered refined and the mark of a true artisan. The discussion of Japanese tokonoma architecture can take up volumes. Have fun exploring what is right for your dojo and remember that the tokonoma should reflect the tastes and the station of the man who occupies the building. Decorum here is very important. No lions and tigers and bears, Oh my...and no dragons either. A tokonoma has no religious conotation unless someone places a religious object in it.

    All the best...

    C. Long

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Long Sensei,

    Thank you. That was extremely informative.


    With respect,
    John Evans

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Long Sensei, could you comment on the influence that zen buddhism has had on the tokonoma?
    I realise that the origins were something completely different.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackcatbonz
    Long Sensei, could you comment on the influence that zen buddhism has had on the tokonoma?
    I realise that the origins were something completely different.
    You want the short or the long version? OK, the short version...

    The tokonoma itself is an architectural feature. The way you decide to decorate it will reflect ones spiritual tastes. Zen (as in Zen Buddhism) inspired architecture, adheres to the concepts of wabi-sabi, attention to simplicity and impermanence. Wabi-Sabi influenced all aspects of Japanese daily life. These became aesthetic principles of good taste.

    Wabi is solitude and simplicity. Nothing is perfect, nothing is ever finished and in that there is beauty and serenity. Wabi reflects a sense of space, place and time. A spiritual harmony exists in things that reflect wabi.

    Sabi, is the spiritual awareness of the nature of things. It encompasses the idea of things coming and going as a natural order to the existence of all material things. Sabi is movement that never ends. The concept of Sabi expresses continual flux. These are Buddhist principles that have been assimilated into poetry, art and theater. But to say that Japanese dance is a Buddhist practice would be far from the truth. The elements that make Japanese theater and dance are hardly Buddhist practices. They reflect qualities of the inner and outer manifestations of the feeling one gets intuitively from understanding and adhering to Buddhist principles of balance and non-attachment.

    The design principles of wabi-sabi fall into several categories; of course fine arts like poetry, drama, and literature, that have no physical objects, embody these principles in a different way: The principles of Wabi-Sabi fall into the following seven categories: type, form , texture, beauty , color , simplicity , space , balance and sobriety.
    These concepts did not just affect architecture but also art, fashion and literature. Not very much in the Japanese society was not affected by Zen aesthetics.

    However, using these aesthetics to enhance ones environment and exisitence, that is not the practice of Zen Buddhism. That is showing an appreciation for the aesthetics that are brought about by adhering to natural principles "recognized" in Zen Buddhism.

    Buddhism, including Mahayana or what the Japanese call Zen Buddhism, in its most basic form is a doctrine, not a religion. Doctrine can be assimilated into many different forms and practices. That is why there are so many different forms of Buddhist religions. The Buddhist doctrine was assimilated into the practice of many indigenous religions. When these religions adopted the Buddhist principles and incorporated them into their own practices, they were commonly grouped under a religious category of Buddhism. This is also why there are so many Buddhist deities. They are brought into the practices from pre-existing indigenous religions.

    Thus the architecture, function and common furnishings of a typical tokonoma (if there is such a thing) are present to insight the feeling of wabi-sabi. Does the Makimono hanging in the Tokonoma express these qualities? It should. As should the open spaciousness, and lack of adornment that pervades the space. The flowers represent and remind one of the impermanence of things. They are not live flowers. They exist somewhere between living and dying. As soon as one cuts a flower, the process of death begins. So you are looking at something in the process of change that lies somewhere between life and death, beauty and sadness all at once. Incense is there to represent the transition between the manifest world and the non-manifest world. The incense stick represents the manifest, the smoke the non-manifest and the burning fire that exists between then is the transition itself. The smell of the incense is beautiful but it is also there only because something is changing. Experience it now!! This is truly wabi-sabi. The fact that many tea houses also incorporated a tokonoma to express the ďzenĒ experience has led many to believe that has been the function of the tokonoma all along. Itís just not true.

    What many people confuse with the tokonoma in a Japanese home is sometimes the butsudan or todana. If it is built into the house, it is indeed an alcove, but not a tokonoma. Occasionally, the Chigaidana, little shelf area next to the tokonoma will be converted into a butsudan or todana. But that is not the tokonoma. Confusing isnít it? I hope this helps to understand the significance of the tokonoma.

    C Long

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Sure does!
    thanks again.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    RE: Shinto shrine, here is a picture of a traditional Kamidana...it represents the natural environmental aspects of the dojo.



    and here is one of a tokonoma, notice the tokobashira (Middle post) that separates the tokonoma from the chigaidana on the right...



    This is the chigaidana that is converted to serve as a butsudana...




    It is sometimes easier to understand if you can see actual usage.

    Regards,

    C Long

    www.sakurabudokan.com
    Last edited by Taisetsu; 04-15-2006 at 11:43 PM.

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Thanks for the pictures, Sensei.

    Would you be able to go over the proper way for students to enter A traditional dojo and explain kami-no-ashi?

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    Default Re: Japanese Model of Martial Arts Training

    Every phrase you will ever hear in a Japanese dojo is in the Dojo Desk Reference and more. There is also a pronunciation guide. Such as Gokura sama deshita - as a humble student might offer their Sensei which literally translates as "Thank for your troubles". Colloquially translates as more humbly as "Thank you for taking the time to teach somebody as unworthy as me". It is great to hear that your class uses nihon-go (Japanese language). All of this is in the book and more. Check out the free preview on iTunes or Lulu.

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