The Secret of Koryu Waza Part 1
January 7, 2013 · 6:00am EST · Submitted by Y. Okoshi
Fujiyama Dojo
P.O. Box 20003
Thorold, ON, Canada
L2V 5B3
(905) 680-6389
After several months of trying the same defensive technique with a tessen, a young student grew increasingly frustrated with his inability to perform the moves effectively, and suddenly burst into a myriad of complaints, "This is nonsense! This stance is awkward and uncomfortable. How could anyone use this technique properly? It is unnatural and too complicated! This is useless! No one can use this technique in a practical way! It has no power!"

The teacher looked at him and gave him several pointers for correct execution of the technique. Still the student complained, "That makes it even harder. That's too much to remember! How could anyone be faster than an opponent trying to do so many things at once? No one is that fast!"

His attitude began to affect the other students, who, almost without realizing it, began slacking in their techniques and giving into a weaker and selfish mind. This soon began to affect the dojo's atmosphere. The teacher advised him again, "Just train. Repetitions will improve your form. Give yourself time."

The ignorant student puffed and uttered a rude comment without thanking his sensei for the advice. "And for how long do I have to practice this to be good at it? Ten years? This technique is useless!"

The teacher, frustrated by this point, signaled to his son with a hand gesture. The young man faced the complaining student, who looked at him with a sarcastic smile on his face. "Attack him". the teacher directed the complaining student. The student adopted an unorthodox stance, waited for a moment, then charged suddenly trying to surprise the teacher's son. The young man reacted by using the same fan technique the complaining student had been practicing and struck the student not once, but twice before the student fell to the ground holding his arm in pain (his arm was later diagnosed as being broken in two places). The student, humiliated, but awakened gathered himself enough to ask the teacher's son, "I see the technique works. How long did it take you to master it?"

"I have been practicing it for fifteen years, but I'm still not quite good at it. I hit you too hard. I lack control. I must learn not to put so much power into it."

This may seem a long preamble, but I believe it is a necessary one. I witnessed this incident, and I can honestly say it taught me a lesson beyond tessen waza. It taught me about spiritual strength. Koryu waza are hard to learn, and to gain proficiency in them involves years of hard training and perseverance. An old teacher's saying is, "The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle."

Watching the old teachers perform their techniques gives us a sense of awe, and some people look for tricks while others believe it is a certain kind of mystic power. The truth is that it is neither. The secret of their ability is a combination of factors that are neither circus tricks, nor magic powers. Today's students, in many countries, come to learn martial arts wrongly, taking for granted many things because of their ignorance of true Kobudo. The things they neglect to consider or refuse to accept are precisely the ones that keep their minds from accepting what their eyes can see, and stops them from having the proper frame of mind which would enable them to one day achieve the same degree of mastery. Many students today think:

  1. A technique should feel "comfortable" from the beginning.
  2. A technique should be able to be learned and good enough to be practical in a couple of days or weeks.
  3. A technique should make absolute sense from the start and should be explained in detail, and if "my feet" do not quite agree with the stance then there must be something wrong with the technique.
  4. If I am not fast enough, strong enough, wise enough to do the technique, then the technique must be wrong, impractical, obsolete, stupid, etc.

Such wrong thoughts, among others, are the products of our current society's self-indulgent "easy way out" mentality, which is incongruent with true bujutsu, but to make a list of wrong attitudes would take forever! Instead, we must consider some right ones, according to each point mentioned above.

The above is the transcript from a lecture given by Yukiko Okoshi-sensei in August 1992. To be continued in Part 2.


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