Kaze Arashi Ryu is a complex, integrated martial arts system comprised of weapons and empty hand arts. Although the system is one art, the curriculum is split up into groups or divisions for ease of learning.
Aiki Ju Jutsu (the art of receiving and redirecting an opponent’s energy through throws, joint manipulation and other principles of body mechanics and movement)
Atemi Jutsu (the art of striking to vital targets and pressure points with the hands, arms, feet and other body parts);
Ken Jutsu (the art of fighting with blades, including all lengths of swords and knives)
Jo Jutsu, (the art of fighting with staves, or sticks, of all lengths, bladed or non-bladed)
At higher levels different weapons are used against each other in different divisions. In addition to the above four ‘pillars’ of the system there are other, supportive arts such as Tessen Jutsu (the art of fighting and communicating with a metal fan) and Obi Tai Waza (the art of restraining and controlling an attacker by means of a strap and/or a rope) which are fundamental to the system.
Five Fundamental Principles of Kaze Arashi Ryu
Most martial arts are based on a number or series of techniques per grade; for example, 5 for white belt, 10 for yellow belt, 15 for green belt etc. In contrast, Kaze Arashi Ryu is based on a set of five fundamental principles that weave through every art of the system. The techniques then become a variation or demonstration of how the principles are applied.
The first is Ryu Ha, which is the principle of strategic planning, both from an individual and group perspective and this is the fundamental principle upon which the system is based. For example, if you are faced with multiple attackers, Ryu Ha suggests the strategy to adopt. Where do you attack? How do you attack? When do you attack? These are only a few of the questions that are considered on a situational basis. The goal of Ryu Ha is to help you ‘paint a picture’ of the landscape so you can very quickly understand the best strategy to use.
Toate no Jutsu
As the confrontation progresses, Toate no Jutsu (the art of physically and mentally affecting an opponent to put him in a state of unbalance) becomes extremely important. Toate no Jutsu includes methods to connect or communicate intent and positions that weaken the opponent’s body, preparing it to be subdued. How you position a person’s body before applying a technique is the difference between muscle and grace.
The third principle, Tai Ichi, refers to ‘body as one’. It is the art of starting from and moving through your ‘centre’ to ensure you are always in balance and able to move from one position to another, with or without a weapon. In Kaze Arashi Ryu we always assume there are multiple attackers and so our movements reflect eliminating one attacker while preparing to attack or defend against the next. Proper balance and position are critical to success.
Taisabaki, (the fourth principle – body movement and positioning), enables you to move from one circle to another without interrupting the flow of energy. In Kaze Arashi Ryu we have 10 angles of attack and defence. These angles of attack and defence are the same, no matter whether you have a sword, a staff or nothing in your hand. When you see attack numbers 3 and 4, for example, these are straight thrusts to the middle of the body. So if you are attacking with your fist, it’s obviously a basic straight punch which is similar to karate. If you had a staff in your hand it’s a straight thrust with the staff; if you had a sword in your hand, it’s a straight thrust with the sword. If you were talking about attack numbers 5 and 6, these are mainly over head attacks with a fist, sword, beer bottle or whatever! It’s still that same angle of attack. So once you know what the angles of attack are, you can pick up any weapon and you will automatically have a certain degree of proficiency in it.
In Yo Ho
Last but not least is ‘In Yo Ho’. Commonly referred to as ‘Yin/Yang’, this principle involves the use of opposing forces that, when combined together, maximize the effectiveness of the technique. Often in our techniques we are pulling the body in one direction while attacking in the other or hyperextending a joint while exerting force in an adjacent direction to maximize the effect. An example of this principle in other arts is the ‘pull while you’re being pushed’ approach to defending oneself.
Take a movement that karateka would be familiar with, the Uchi Ude Uke or inside block at middle level (chudan). In Kaze Arashi Ryu that same movement could be a wrist release, it could be a strike or a throw, it could be lots of things. What’s important is the principle behind the movement, and there are only so many ways of moving the human body, so a lot of the principles are the same whether you perform them hard and strong in a karate type fashion, or soft and flowing in an aiki fashion; the principle is still the same.
Process of Learning Kaze Arashi Ryu
A new practitioner starts out learning form so that he/she can start to internalise the principles. The form is like the trunk of a tree, and the techniques you see in the dojo being practised are the ‘branches’ or manifestations of the principles. Once a student obtains a certain level of proficiency, he/she starts to learn to apply the principles in practice. So, a student would never just learn the forms simply for their own sake, but would learn a form for the purpose of becoming aware of what could happen when you move the body in a certain way, or how an opponent’s body reacts in certain circumstances. It’s a means to an end. The form only serves to reinforce and help a student to internalise principles of movement as a means to become a proficient warrior, because that was what was important in feudal times. You notice I didn’t say fighter. A fighter normally faces one person and the contest may last from a few seconds to several minutes. Whereas a warrior could be on the battlefield for a prolonged period of time and may have to fight a greater amount of people. Application of principles will mean the difference between life and death.
You can learn Kaze Arashi Ryu techniques individually, but you may find a similarity of those techniques in various other systems. No one system has a monopoly on techniques. We would never say “This is a Kaze Arashi Ryu technique”; we will say, “this is a technique that may be in many other systems, but in Kaze Arashi Ryu, this is the way we do it”.
Kaze Arashi Ryu Tradition Explained
Kaze Arashi Ryu is a beautiful tradition to practise. The defensive parries (they’re more of a parry than a block) are very much like an internal Chinese art. When we move we have a constantly flowing energy. Aiki is a constantly flowing energy. It doesn’t have the ‘stop, start’ features of, say, karate and that is one of the things that makes Kaze Arashi Ryu a beautiful art to practise. However in reality, it is a deadly art as some of the techniques are very vicious. Its function as a fighting art is to be “combat effective” and everything we do, even while learning the principles is with combat efficiency in mind. However, the other side of the art is that it is a beautiful art requiring grace and poise to practise. In reality, Ken Jutsu develops power, Jo Jutsu promotes coordination and Tessen Jutsu builds grace and fluidity. The blend of combat effectiveness and elegance, combined with a fundamental principle base makes Kaze Arashi Ryu a unique tradition to practise.