Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What is Esoterica?

What is meant by "esoteric"?

In my book, Esoteric Principles: The Philosophy of Danzan-Ryū Jūjutsu (2010), my purpose was to plainly illustrate the source "Esoteric Principles of Judo" in the documents of Professor Okazaki and his Danzan-Ryū. This book was a follow-on of my earlier, Mokuroku and Kaidenshō: The Official Documents of Danzan-Ryū Jūjutsu (1996), in which I set out to provide a detailed line-by-line translation of the Kodenkan graduation scroll and special class certificate. My intent in this earlier book was to identify the esoteric principle verses, and this became the majority of the content of the 2010 book. In addition to this, the later book contains other Danzan-Ryū material.

In explaining the concept of esoterica, I wrote: 

The word “esoteric” comes from the Greek, “εσωτερικός” (esōterikós) that literally means “inner”. The connotation of this word is that if something is esoteric, it is held by and understood only by a select inner circle. An esoteric principle is thus a fundamental doctrine or tenet that is held as secret and reserved for only a few.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of this. In the Bible, we read that there a class of clerics who are the only ones permitted into the innermost parts of the temple. They are the high-priests and belong to a special class. They are able to go into the most holy part of the temple and commune directly with God. Outside of the temple, the priests gave the general public the outer, “exoteric” knowledge of their faith.

From this we may infer that these things are hidden from all but the elect. In truth, the secrets may not be readily discerned, but they are in plain sight.

Esoteric Principles may be purchased from:

Mokuroku and Kaidenshō may be purchased from:

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Slap Your Teacher in the Face!

Who among you would do this?

(For the point of this discussion, I will not include those teachers who are abusive to their students. That's a whole other discussion.)

Instead, I am referring to a disturbing trend in our Danzan-Ryu community of students to show disrespect to their teachers by changing their allegiance without the proper protocol. By this I am referring to those individuals who change to another Sensei and train with them without first discussing this change with and receiving the approval of their original teacher. In traditional martial arts, this would never be tolerated.

If a student is considering a change of affiliation, the proper protocol would be this:

1. The student should deeply and carefully consider the change. They should fervently weigh both the positives and negatives of such an action before moving forward.

2. The student must personally contact their original teacher and discuss their reasons for wanting the change. This must be done before any changes are made.

3. The new teacher must personally contact the original teacher and discuss all issues surrounding the change. Again, this must be done before any changes are made.

4. The final decision would that of the original teacher. No alteration or variance is acceptable.

This may seem harsh to some. To them I would say to reverse the roles and consider the results. Again, consider the same situation in classical martial arts. What would happen to a classical martial arts student who did this without the proper authorization? And...to those who don't abide by or agree with that line of reasoning I would suggest that you may be practicing the wrong art. For a different perspective, consider what would happen to an Olympic athlete who switched coaches without due process.

In 1997, I began work (with the valuable initial help from Prof. Clyde Zimmerman) on a Danzan-Ryu lineage tree. The aim of this document was to illustrate the many black belts in our system and to identify from whom they received their initial ranking. In the majority of the entries, people listed the teacher who awarded them their Shodan, while only a very few listed their current Sensei.

What I have noticed is that there have been a number of Danzan-Ryu black belts who have changed affiliation from their original teacher as listed on the danzan.com lineage tree to someone else. I personally do not know why they did this or whether they received the appropriate authorization. If they did, so be it. If not, then I believe they are showing the highest disrespect to their teacher and, in effect, slapping them soundly across the face.

Notum Bene: I am personally not interested if you disagree with my assertions. I know this is still a free country for a little while longer, and people are allowed to do what they will. That still does not make it right.