Koryu.com Frequently Asked Questions

What is koryu bujutsu?

We cover this important question in detail in our “Koryu Primer.”

What is koryu budo?

See “Koryu budo, kobudo, kobujutsu, koryu bujutsu: what’s the difference?

Can you recommend a qualified and authorized classical martial arts instructor in my area?

The search for a teacher is an important part of the “koryu” process. Like training in the koryu, it isn’t necessarily easy or instantly successful. A number of schools and teachers have web sites listed in the “Ryu Guide” pages, so this is a good place to start your search. At Koryu.com we do not provide contact information to people with whom we do not have a direct personal connection (see “Koryu Training in Japan” for a more detailed explanation of this issue). We do provide you with lots of background material so you can evaluate prospective instructors, know what questions to ask them, and in general have a clearer idea of the context of the koryu bujutsu. Check out the reading list in “A Koryu Primer.”

I’d like to go to Japan to train in koryu. How can I do this?

We’ve compiled all our advice on this into two articles: “Koryu Training in Japan” and “Training in Japan.”

Can you provide me with the address and phone number of a contact for Thus-and-such-ryu in Japan?

Imagine your seventy-five-year-old grandmother, cozily asleep in her bed. At 3:00 a.m., the phone rings. Being a well-bred old-fashioned type, she answers–despite the hour–and is greeted with an incomprehensible barrage of Swahili. This happens all too frequently to the headmasters of classical traditions in Japan. For this reason, and others that I explain in my article “Koryu Training in Japan,” we really cannot provide such information. Fortunately, you are only six jumps away from anyone in the world, so ask around among your acquaintances (your martial arts instructor is a good place to start) and you will eventually find a personal connection that can get you the information or introduction you seek.

Have you ever considered producing a dojo directory of koryu in the West?

No. There are a couple of issues. One is that if we start listing koryu, then everyone and everyone’s aunt would start bothering us: “Why isn’t my xyz-made-last-week-in-America-ryu listed?” We already get quite a lot of this and it is time-consuming and sometimes not very pleasant. We really don’t want to set ourselves up as arbiters of who is doing “real” koryu and who isn’t, but we will not mention or support arts that we believe to be outside our brief, or arts that blatantly misrepresent their histories. We’d rather provide materials so that people can learn enough to evaluate a prospective teacher/art on their own (after all, the student is the one who has to “live” with a teacher; he or she should be the one to evaluate that teacher).

Another issue is that it seems koryu have become popular. Lots of people are looking for koryu; and surprisingly few of them, when asked, can really tell you why it is specifically koryu that they want to do. Most instructors that we know personally are not prepared to accept lots of students. Many do not accept anyone at all until they’ve trained with them in a modern art for a number of years. Others require recommendations from a trusted third party. Some of us believe that part of the process is the search for the right teacher–to shortcut that quest is to deny the importance of that first step.

Finally, and this is solely because this is the way it is done amongst our teachers and koryu people in Japan, we at Koryu Books take the notion of introductions extremely seriously. If we give a teacher’s name to someone, we are, to one extent or another, vouching for that individual’s character and suitability. We can’t evaluate all the individuals who access a list on the Internet. Therefore, we are not willing to provide a list (the converse goes as well–the list of legitimate koryu teachers with whom we have enough personal experience to recommend is quite short; we wouldn’t be able/willing to list anyone with whom we’ve had no such experience).

Is ninjutsu or ninpo taijutsu considered to be a koryu?

As one aspect of the martial arts, the equivalent, more or less, of military intelligence, this is certainly a legitimate area of study, and techniques are included within the curricula of several comprehensive classical systems. But ninjutsu simply no longer exists as an independent ryu-ha or art. What is commonly taught as ninjutsu, in Japan and elsewhere, is a fairly recent collection of unarmed and weapons arts, two of which are independent koryu. This does not mean that these arts are not technically valid or that they don’t have historical provenance. But the modern arts taught as ninjutsu and ninpo or budo taijutsu (whichever version of the name you favor) cannot be considered koryu per se. For more information, we’ve assembled some other researchers’ opinions on this question at “Ninjutsu: Is it koryu bujutsu?” 

How can I order your books?

Our quick order form will get you started; other ordering information can be found at “Orders Information.”

I’m working on a book about Japanese martial arts. Is Koryu Books looking for manuscripts?

We’re pretty much set in the way of manuscripts to publish for at least the next five years. So, no, we’re not really in the market. If you’re convinced that you’ve got a book that we should consider we certainly are willing to take a look at your proposal. But please keep in mind that the likelihood of Koryu Books being interested in publishing your book is fairly small.

For general questions about the Japanese classical martial arts, we suggest the Koryu Bujutsu Facebook group.