Mujitsu and Tairaku's Shakuhachi BBQ

World Shakuhachi Discussion / Go to Live Shakuhachi Chat

You are not logged in.


Tube of delight!

  • Index
  •  » History
  •  » Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

#1 2007-03-19 14:48:17

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

We've all heard the story about how Komuso supposedly used thier shakuhachi as clubs, but how accurate is this? I've held a couple of bigger pieces, and, while I'm sure they'd hurt whomever I'd hit with them, there's no chance in hell that I'd do it unless my life was in danger. I'm sure it'd near ruin the piece, if not crack it outright.

Would a priest really have done this with his Instrument of Meditation? With today's modern drills and such, I can whip out a pretty damned good flute in a day, but it would've been far harder back then. I wouldn't just toss my flutes around willy-nilly.

Also, if a priest was willing to crack open a guy's skull with the flute, why not just keep carrying a Tanto (dagger) or Wakizashi (short sword)? What's the difference between killing with your hands, a club, or a knife? Yes, one could say that the club is more likely to knock someone out so that you can get away, but that person will get up and chase you again at some point. I'd guess most attackers, especially back in "the day", were just outright killed if possible.

And how true is it that former samurai, now wandering ronin, turned to the Komuso life? These are the types that I can see really holding onto thier violent pasts.

This raises another question for me... is it just plain assinine and counter-intuitive to have a group of priests train to beat people up? I mean, isn't that a little counter-intuitive to what they preach? Buddhism will tell you that all of life is pain, but why would you go and ADD to that pain by killing someone with your hands, sword, or the bell end of a flute? Wouldn't you still end up in some sort of maggoty hell, priest or not? It's interesting that some priests will spend thier lives avoiding "the world", yet they train to physically fight against it when it comes time.

You cannot simultaneously prepare for war and peace. I'm paraphrasing.

This dilemna has been with me for awhile. I used to be into collecting fine japanese swords, and it dawned on me that, while they were beautiful to look at, and creating so artfully, they're really made for one purpose, and one purpose only: to kill. You can say they defend, but how many people do you think survive a katana (or even a tanto, for that matter) to the stomach? Not many. So, yes, you can defend, say, a princess, with a sword, but then you take one life to protect another. Is that "good"? I mean, killing an evil ass to protect an innocent child seems like an "okay" thing to do, but is it really? Then again, you can't just sit there and do nothing, right? I'd certainly kill anyone trying to kill me or one of my friends, although I'm sure I'd feel terrible about it.

Okay, I'm babbling. Any thoughts?

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

Offline

 

#2 2007-03-19 14:59:52

geni
Performer & Teacher
From: Boston MA
Registered: 2005-12-21
Posts: 830
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Reily Lee has a lof of info in his website . I read that Komusos had a short knife or something like that..
I bet Watazumi kick some ass with his flutes.

Offline

 

#3 2007-03-19 15:01:32

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Really, do you think Watazumi went around "kicking ass" with his flutes? What era is he from again? Just a thought.

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

Offline

 

#4 2007-03-19 15:37:58

Ambi
Member
From: Leeds UK
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 108

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

My understanding was that the Komuso had a "secret technique" for Defence again Sword attack.
There is NO way that a piece of bamboo can "block" a sword stike, But - starting from playing, you have the potential for a very nice balanced grip with the lower hand, making this a firm grip results in a snapping action, I picture this used to "wipe" the strike so that rather than block the strike is deflected -Tai Chi background. Follow up with a reverse strike (with the  root end) to the hands.
Kicking Ass is then optional, I'd hesitate to impose modern conceptions of buddhist pacifism upon a bunch of Ex Samurai and imperial spies!


"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

Offline

 

#5 2007-03-19 15:58:33

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Modern? Do you think that the brand of Buddhism is one of non-peace? I'm just curious, I don't know much about exactly what they believed. Knowing humans, though, I wouldn't be too surprised to see them twist it to make it okay, much the same way sects of Christianity or Catholicism do. I'm just saying, that's what people do.

Even if you just hit someone a few times on the skull, you'd really increase the odds of your flute cracking, wouldn't you?

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

Offline

 

#6 2007-03-19 17:30:25

Ambi
Member
From: Leeds UK
Registered: 2006-06-22
Posts: 108

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

"Brand of Buddhism" sort of sums it up for me - lets face it, Zen is long way from India. It's probably true that All religions have their "dark" sides (Huurrh - Huurrh ).Were "ninja" buddhist? They certainly seem to have very significant mental training, that I suspect (d)evolved from Chan as did Zen.
But from what I've read the proportion of Komuso who were "pure Seekers of Enlightenment" were not the majority anyway, and "none attachment" means there is always another stick with holes in it, to practise breathing with.
OK I'm being a bit cynical, and really I'd prefer that disarmament was It.


"The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it."

Offline

 

#7 2007-03-19 19:53:54

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

kyoreiflutes wrote:

Also, if a priest was willing to crack open a guy's skull with the flute, why not just keep carrying a Tanto (dagger) or Wakizashi (short sword)? What's the difference between killing with your hands, a club, or a knife?

Maybe because carrying a weapon is at the most an open invitation to a fight and at the least a statement that you're game to defending yourself, but carrying an instrument that you could use as a weapon in a problematic moment would simply send out the message that you didn't really want any trouble.

The little that I've read so far on the subject of shakuhachi and the relationship to samuri has had a lot of stuff about spying and such, so these guys weren't necessarily priests but were just posing as such. Previous to reading that stuff, and unrelated to shakuhachi, I've read where monks took to learning martial arts because without the activity they were becoming unhealthy and it served the dual purpose of fitness and self-defense in a world that was harsh on weak people.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

Offline

 

#8 2007-03-19 20:23:46

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

kyoreiflutes wrote:

Really, do you think Watazumi went around "kicking ass" with his flutes? What era is he from again? Just a thought.

Wasn't he somewhat contemporary and still living and playing in the early '80's? If so, I'd guess he missed the "Wild West"-like days of Japan by at least a generation or two. However, from a link someone on this forum had provided that had a writeup on him, it sounded like he was into traditional martial arts for health and general roundness of character, so I wouldn't be surprised if he knew how to use those flutes as a weapon. BTW, isn't this thread getting a little childish? I can just picture where it might go after discussing which makes for a better weapon, Jiari or Jinashi. Did Brian Ritchie ever use a shakuhachi to defend himself against a mosher who got out of hand? smile I've heard of a few frontmen from groups that play where there are mosh pits needing to use the microphones as a weapon. I wonder if this thread was at all inspired by this print that just showed up on Ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi … 1&rd=1

If anybody that finds this stick fighting talk fun and hasn't seen it yet, "The Last Samurai" with Tom Cruise was pretty good.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

Offline

 

#9 2007-03-19 23:05:35

kyoreiflutes
Member
From: Seattle, WA
Registered: 2005-10-27
Posts: 364
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

That is exactly the pic that inspired this. wink

-E


"The Universe does not play favorites, and is not fair by its very Nature; Humans, however, are uniquely capable of making the world they live in fair to all."    - D.E. Lloyd

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee."    -John Donne

Offline

 

#10 2007-03-20 01:13:27

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Watazumi was a martial arts instructor and soldier in the Imperial Army during WWII, so it's safe to assume that he would have kicked ass and killed people with his shakuhachi, bare hands, bo stick, sword, gun or whatever, Zen or no Zen. And then wrote a song about it!


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

Offline

 

#11 2007-03-20 01:53:54

Furiousgeorge
Member
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Registered: 2007-03-05
Posts: 11

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Haha, well said Tairaku

As for the question of religious devouts using martial arts for violence, I may be able to shed some light on that.

When Chinese martial arts began at Shaolin (often considered to be "grandparent" to many if not most  other martial arts styles) it was designed to serve a dual purpose. Its primary goal was to physically prepare and condition the monks for serious meditation while integrating the upkeep and discipline of the physical shell as part of the road to enlightenment. It also served to help protect the order from attack by bandits, as well as the threat of changing political control and wandering armies. It was only when Shaolin adopted the policy of sending monks into the world to be doctors, educators, and priests to enrich the population that the idea of transferring these systems to others became prevalent as a large-scale defense system.

It was around this time that philosophies about non-violence were taught heavily alongside the martial disciplines. The basic idea was (and still is) to use the martial arts to protect and enlighten, not destroy. The Buddha taught to avoid the willful destruction of other living beings, this does not preclude defending oneself from attack. The martial philosophy is to choose not the death of your opponent, but rather your own life. This essentially means that you fight only until you are satisfied you are no longer in danger, not necessarily to the destruction of your opponent. This is why many of the older styles focus heavily on joint locks, limb breaks and "paralyzing" or "disabling" effects rather than those that deal permanent or mortal damage (look up Chin Na for examples). Many of these styles also utilized non-violent tools as weapons of defense (look up the use of gardening spades), and would lend themselves nicely to a transition into using a sturdy and powerful piece of bamboo. (I would note here that my sifu, a traditional Kung fu and Tai Chi master saw my instrument for the first time and remarked that it was "very strong bamboo, you could club someone right over the head with this" he then jokingly offered to design a fighting form for me that would use my shaku)

This is a heavily abbreviated version of a rich and complicated (and much argued) history, but I hope it can help at least a bit to answer this portion of your question.


All Presence is born of Absence

Offline

 

#12 2009-01-30 23:57:48

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Zen has been a component of Budo/Bujitsu for some time.

In terms of more recent history, this is of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War

Some interesting perspectives on Zen and war can be found in Soyen Shaku's ZEN FOR AMERICANS: http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/index.htm

Specifically these lectures:
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa22.htm
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa23.htm
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa24.htm

Shaku was D.T. Sukuki's Sensei.

Also, regarding Watazumi, I've read that he had his own method of excercise/martial art using the jo staff, but I am very curious, what other martial arts did he train in? What method of fighting did he teach in WWII? Was he active in Nationalist circles?


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#13 2009-01-31 00:06:45

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

ABRAXAS wrote:

Zen has been a component of Budo/Bujitsu for some time.

In terms of more recent history, this is of interest: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen_at_War

Some interesting perspectives on Zen and war can be found in Soyen Shaku's ZEN FOR AMERICANS: http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/index.htm

Specifically these lectures:
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa22.htm
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa23.htm
http://sacred-texts.com/bud/zfa/zfa24.htm

Shaku was D.T. Sukuki's Sensei.

Also, regarding Watazumi, I've read that he had his own method of excercise/martial art using the jo staff, but I am very curious, what other martial arts did he train in? What method of fighting did he teach in WWII? Was he active in Nationalist circles?

You could also say Japanese Buddhism at war anyway since all sects HAD the obligation to praise and justify the ware in some way.

Now back to Watazumi. He was a student at the Budo Senmon Gakko which was a modern millitary school of Budo for young guys.So he had to learn jujitsu Kendo, Iai, Juken/ bayoentte etc.

Anyway my teacher knew him ad said he was a prime asshole.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

Offline

 

#14 2009-01-31 00:11:32

Tairaku 太楽
Administrator/Performer
From: Tasmania
Registered: 2005-10-07
Posts: 3222
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Gishin wrote:

Anyway my teacher knew him ad said he was a prime asshole.

Pray tell!


'Progress means simplifying, not complicating' : Bruno Munari

http://www.myspace.com/tairakubrianritchie

Offline

 

#15 2009-01-31 00:14:18

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

This is very interesting to me, thank you for your response!

Do you know what specific jujutsu ryu Watazumi trained in?

Did your teacher elaborate in what sense he was a "prime asshole"?

All mere trivia, I know, but interesting trivia.

Also, the Shaku essay/lectures are in specific reference to the Russo-Japanese war and are about Zen, Buddhism, and War in general.

Last edited by ABRAXAS (2009-01-31 00:16:00)


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#16 2009-01-31 00:15:14

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Tairaku wrote:

Gishin wrote:

Anyway my teacher knew him ad said he was a prime asshole.

Pray tell!

Well as far as I know asshole= in Japanese feel to be too much of an individualist and not helping serving the people. I can write more details story etc this weekend, But I can leave you on this one. One other teacher told me that my iai teacher slapped him around on a Budo senmon reunion in the 80's when he was drunk. Must have been funny to see 2 old farts going at it drunk.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

Offline

 

#17 2009-01-31 00:24:59

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

I was actually greatly relieved to find a strong historical militarist connection to the Shakuhachi, it goes a long way toward washing off the western hippy connotations. Like Buddhism and Eastern thought in general, the more you peel off the insipid "1960s" western cultural baggage clinging to it, the better it is. But that may just be my personal quirk.


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#18 2009-01-31 00:55:08

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

ABRAXAS wrote:

I was actually greatly relieved to find a strong historical militarist connection to the Shakuhachi, it goes a long way toward washing off the western hippy connotations. Like Buddhism and Eastern thought in general, the more you peel off the insipid "1960s" western cultural baggage clinging to it, the better it is. But that may just be my personal quirk.

Well I am 34 years old and so far I had to fight off most of the crap that came from those days and was deemed to be accurate interpretation here in North-America.

Also they say Zen at war because the book seems to be mostly linked with Zen school but in the war days of Japan most Buddhist schools had to somehow praise war the emperor etc.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

Offline

 

#19 2009-01-31 01:13:26

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

"Amen" and I agree to a great degree, but there are also many instances of surprising figures aligned with the nationalist/militarist trends long prior to WWII. Haku'un Yasutani was probably sincere in his nationalism and other "right wing" tendencies, and Morihei Ueshiba (not a Buddhist but popularly percieved to be a pacifist) for example also had long-standing involvement with nationalist, militarist, and right wing political activity in Japan. I'm not disagreeing with you, just pointing out there are cases for both sides.

There is an interesting photo on John Singer's site (I think) of Kamakaze pilots sitting around one of their own playing a shakuhachi. I would love to know the back-story to that photograph, and if shakuhachi was a "thing" in any sense of the term among Kamakazi.

History is fascinating.


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#20 2009-01-31 01:15:24

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

I also seem to recall reading reference to a prominent Japanese naval officer who played shakuhachi, but I forget at the moment where I read it.

This theme would be an interesting chapter in a shakuhachi history book.


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#21 2009-01-31 01:19:34

Priapus Le Zen M☮nk
Historical Zen Mod
From: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Registered: 2006-04-25
Posts: 612
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

ABRAXAS wrote:

"Amen" and I agree to a great degree, but there are also many instances of surprising figures aligned with the nationalist/militarist trends long prior to WWII. Haku'un Yasutani was probably sincere in his nationalism and other "right wing" tendencies, and Morihei Ueshiba (not a Buddhist but popularly percieved to be a pacifist) for example also had long-standing involvement with nationalist, militarist, and right wing political activity in Japan. I'm not disagreeing with you, just pointing out there are cases for both sides.

There is an interesting photo on John Singer's site (I think) of Kamakaze pilots sitting around one of their own playing a shakuhachi. I would love to know the back-story to that photograph, and if shakuhachi was a "thing" in any sense of the term among Kamakazi.

History is fascinating.

I would also say that it is a complicated chapter of Japanese modern history and each School and groups need to be studied separately and then seen has a ballpark theme/idea. the main issue is that people tend to study or read abotu the ballpark idea and apply what they have read to all of them too easily


As far as the navy picture thing I have a picture in an old Japanese book showing 2 Japanese navy officers sitting on a Ship and playing shakuhachi.


Sebastien 義真 Cyr
春風館道場 Shunpukan Dojo
St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
http://www.myspace.com/shunpukandojo

Offline

 

#22 2009-01-31 01:23:31

ABRAXAS
Member
Registered: 2009-01-17
Posts: 353

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Gishin wrote:

As far as the navy picture thing I have a picture in an old Japanese book showing 2 Japanese navy officers sitting on a Ship and playing shakuhachi.

VERY interesting! It would be great to put together some kind of collection of historical art and photographs of shakuhachi/players.

Last edited by ABRAXAS (2009-01-31 01:24:55)


"Shakuhachi music stirs up both gods and demons." -- Ikkyu.

Offline

 

#23 2010-01-05 09:00:45

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Weren't a number of weapons created for locations like the imperial palace because bloodshed is prohibited on hallowed ground? I think they developed weapons like the Kusari Fundo for this purpose (weighted chain) & if a ronin (Samurai without a master but *presumably* mindful of Bushido) were to convert or dress as Komuso;  that sounds like the kind of area they would inhabit.

Maybe I shouldn't mention this... when I purchased my Yuu online, the seller sent along a free shakuhachi that he had obviously been testing, there were different hole locations filled with cork. I brought it to my martial arts class back in November. It was too light to use as a club, you'd really have to take someone by surprise, but if you wedge it into the collar bone and scrape down the chest diagonally, it's magic; especially one like this with a slight curve. I think it's more suitable at causing sharp pain when scraped across or jammed up, on or in something which allows you to coax them off balance. I don't know about a club, but it's excellent for light use punishment.

It's effective when rolled up the Philtrum (Depending on diameter) or pushed into the temple. It's also great when you pinch skin between the chin rest and your thumb.

A bit of wood is less expensive, mind you.

Last edited by Vevolis (2010-01-05 09:06:14)

Offline

 

#24 2010-01-05 09:26:36

Josh
PhD
From: Grand Island, NY/Nara, Japan
Registered: 2005-11-14
Posts: 305
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

You could just play it and they might run away wink much less bloodshed

Offline

 

#25 2010-01-05 09:31:32

Vevolis
Member
From: Toronto, ON
Registered: 2007-12-24
Posts: 175
Website

Re: Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Josh wrote:

You could just play it and they might run away wink much less bloodshed

You've got to remember that many beginners have difficulty even getting a tone on a good day. Maybe if I had bad breath they'd run away. tongue

Offline

 
  • Index
  •  » History
  •  » Shakuhachi as a CLUB? Did they KILL people with it?

Board footer

Powered by PunBB
© Copyright 2002–2005 Rickard Andersson

Google