Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Legacy of Takamura Sensei.

If you go to the TSYR hombu dojo homepage you will find a PDF of an interview between Stanley Pranin and Yukiyoshi Takamura. I have read this article many times as it gives me an insight into my Kaicho's teacher.

Yukiyoshi Takamura

After reading the interview with Yukiyoshi Takamura, I was left pondering a few things he said.
One of his quotes from the article, "Appreciation of fear and the appropriate reaction when confronting fear is the sign of a mature martial artist."
This was in answer to the question regarding how rough his training methods were. He was trying to explain that the dojo is an environment where you can experience the fear response while training with people you can trust. People who can look after you while your mind and body adapt to high levels of stress. This is one reason I enjoy TSYR. The training does challenge me often. Especially the kenjutsu practice. I also know that at higher levels things get cranked up more but I have a strong relationship with most people in that dojo and know that they will do everything they can to ensure my safety. If I get hurt it was probably through something I did, not them. 

Another quote related to this: "Without a struggle, the character never really is challenged and never matures."

So if you enjoy martial arts because it is easy, then maybe there is something wrong with the training. 

He goes on to say, "Remember that most people who call themselves martial artists are nothing of the sort. Most dojos are not martial arts dojos either. They are glorified social clubs thriving in an environment of emotional stimulation which is heightened by a false or extremely limited perception of danger. When real danger shows itself in such a dojo, the participants run for cover. In a real dojo the participants run towards the conflict."

I'm sure he is not advocating the old school approach of looking for danger and picking fights rather that the people of 'real dojos' are mentally prepared for serious confrontation or stress in whatever form that may be. 

Having a background in aikido, I know what he is talking about when describing glorified social clubs. Some aikidoka I have known come to the training for the buzz they get from throwing people or being thrown by people in a slightly choreographed fashion. It is fun, no doubt about it but the reality is, that no one is really resisting and balance-breaking often results from the attacker over-extending, leading to a false confidence of one's ability. Disclaimer: this is not all aikido or aikidoka. There are some devastating examples of aikido in action out there. 

Takamura was certainly clear on his views with regards to the right mental attitude and the conditions for training and I like to think he instilled in Toby Threadgill that same sense of credibility in his teaching and therefore our training. What Toby can do is impressive but he doesn't make it into some mystic rubbish. He is careful to explain his abilities are simply the result of years of practice and refinement and he can show us how he does it. Immulating him is a different story, however!










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