Relationships & Virtues in Koryu
Updated: Feb 29
The Student-Teacher relationship is one of the defining traits in Classical Koryu. Originally, it serves the purpose of transmission of techniques designed to ensure victory (on the battlefield).
The mode of transmission may vary, but are generally through oral-transmission (coupled with guided teaching and practice within the Dojo setting) and written texts.
Historically, this mode and format of teaching is to, at the very least, help maintain some level of combat effectiveness (during peace-time) regarding the transmission and sustenance of techniques.
However, an equally, if not more important facet is the teaching/ learning of virtues of Bushido. On a deeper level, it includes the path towards finding and maintaining inner peace. As lofty as it sounds, a simpler interpretation is what it means to be human. There is no doubt that techniques of a Koryu can be taught/ learnt in isolation from above mentioned virtues. Yet any precepts of Koryu remains fundamentally grounded and rooted in these virtues till this day.
Indeed, what good is there without a moral compass to guide the actions of the practitioner?
This is why emphasis is always placed on the enlightenment of the heart and mind (Kokoro) of would-be practitioner over techniques. On personal development, the awareness of these virtues opens up the dimension to spiritual aspects of training and development. Examples of spiritual practices in Koryu includes mediation. It helps guides practitioners to look inwards and contemplate on concepts of compassion, emptiness, impermanence, etc towards building one's own moral compass.
It comes full circle when we think about the practitioner looking outwards on his/her relationships with the environment. - on connecting with other people, maintaining relationships and making contributions back to the society in his/her own way.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own.