Monday, April 6, 2009

SMAA Divisions

The SMAA has a number of separate divisions for many of the traditional Japanese martial arts. Each division is lead by one or more Directors, each of whom have 20 years or more martial arts experience and the minimum rank of sixth dan (or a classical equivalent).

Aikido Division
Aikido is a dynamic martial art and form of spiritual training that was created by Ueshiba Morihei Sensei (1883-1969). It focuses on nonviolent throwing and pinning techniques, and in some systems the use of the sword and staff is included as well. In many aikido schools, it is practiced in a noncompetitive environment.

Since Ueshiba Sensei’s death, a number of high ranking aikido experts have created their own versions of this martial art. The SMAA Aikido Division is open to all genuine forms of aikido with an authentic lineage that can be traced directly to a Japanese founder.

This popular division is lead by Karl Scott Sensei, SMAA Shihan and sixth dan. Scott Sensei studied aikido for many years under a number of notable and talented teachers, including Tohei Koichi Sensei (tenth dan), Kai Kuniyuki Sensei (ninth dan), Shiohira Hideki Sensei (seventh dan), Toyoda Fumio Sensei (sixth dan), and Walter Todd Sensei (sixth dan).

Goshin-jutsu Division
The SMAA Goshin-jutsu Division is focused on modern forms of self defense training (goshin-jutsu), which evolved from traditional Japanese martial arts like judo, jujutsu, karate-do, and aikido. Many martial systems today, which often indentify themselves as “jujutsu,” do not actually have a lineage traceable to this ancient Japanese martial art, and in Japan they would be known as goshin-jutsu.

The SMAA Goshin-jutsu Division allows SMAA members and the public, who have created a modern form of self defense, to receive ranking and teaching certification. Individuals offering rape prevention courses, military combative training, and police combat training classes may qualify for SMAA Goshin-jutsu Division certification. The SMAA, however, does not certify individuals practicing forms of goshin-jutsu derived from non-Japanese sources.

Iaido Division
Iaido focuses on the drawing and use of the traditional Japanese sword. It is widely regarded as a form of moving meditation, and it’s practiced in several different nations.

In the Bugei Ryuha Daijiten, Hayashizaki Jinsuke (Minamoto no) Shigenobu is credited with establishing an art in the sixteenth century that is practiced as iaido today. However, about a century before his birth, iaijutsu was developed by Iizasa Ienao, creator of Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu. Both older and modern forms of iaido and iaijutsu can be found within the SMAA Iaido Division, which is lead by Nicklaus Suino Sensei (Shihan and seventh dan) and Guy Power Sensei (Shihan and seventh dan). Suino Sensei and Power Sensei both lived in Japan for several years, where they studied under top iaido experts.

Suino Sensei’s background is in Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu, while Power Sensei practices Nakamura Ryu and Toyama Ryu. The SMAA Iaido Division, however, is open to any form of iaido with a legitimate lineage that can be traced to a Japanese founder. Among the prominent members of the SMAA Iaido Division are Mr. Dave Lowry (Yagyu Shinkage Ryu), Hunter Armstrong Sensei (Yagyu Shinkage Ryu), John Evans Sensei (Toyama Ryu and Nakamura Ryu), Wayne Murumoto Sensei (Takeuchi Ryu and Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu), Nyle Monday Sensei (Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu and Toyama Ryu), and Stephen Fabian Sensei (Hontai Yoshin Ryu and Toyama Ryu).

Judo Division
Kodokan judo, meaning “gentle and pliable way,” is a modern Japanese martial art and sport, which originated in the late nineteenth century. It was created by Kano Jigoro (1860-1938).

Its prominent feature is its competitive aspect, where the objective is to either throw the opponent, immobilize the opponent with a grappling technique, or cause the opponent to submit via locking the elbow or a chokehold. Strikes (with the hands and feet)—as well as weapon defenses—are included, but only in prearranged forms (kata), and they are illegal in competition.

Traditional judo, as advocated by the SMAA, encompasses all of these elements, along with a study of judo’s spiritual basis and its philosophical application to daily life. The SMAA Judo Division is lead by Nicklaus Suino Sensei, who began judo as a child, and who studied in Japan under several leading judo exponents. His judo lineage can be traced from Sato Shizuya Sensei (ninth dan) to Ito Kazuo Sensei (tenth dan) and Mifune Kyuzo Sensei (tenth dan), and finally to Kano Sensei himself.

Suino Sensei’s present SMAA judo rank in Shihan and sixth dan. The SMAA Judo Division has members throughout North America and in Japan. Prominent members include Mark Colby Sensei of the Kodokan and Ohsaki Jun Sensei, who has over 50 years of budo and judo experience.

Jujutsu Division
Jujutsu, the “art of yielding and gentleness,” is a collective name for Japanese martial systems including unarmed and armed methods. It is often regarded as the oldest Japanese martial art.

Jujutsu developed among the bushi, samurai warriors of feudal Japan, for defeating armed and armored opponents, predominantly without using weapons. Due to the ineffectiveness of striking an armored attacker, methods emphasized immobilizations, joint locks, chokes, and throws. These techniques used an attacker's energy against him, rather than fighting it.

There are numerous variations of jujutsu, with a variety of different approaches. Jujutsu ryu (“systems”), however, all utilize grappling to a greater or lesser degree. Along with jujutsu, many older styles (koryu) use weapons. Many jujutsu ryu also include philosophical and meditative aspects.

The SMAA Jujutsu Division is lead by Stephen Fabian Sensei (SMAA Shihan and sixth dan) and H. E. Davey Sensei (SMAA Shihan and seventh dan). Fabian Sensei lived in Japan for several years, where he studied Hontai Yoshin Ryu jujutsu directly under the 18th and 19th generation headmasters of this system. Davey Sensei began Saigo Ryu as a child and trained in Japan and the USA under top jujutsu experts. The SMAA Jujutsu Division is open to bona fide forms of traditional and ancient jujutsu, which have a lineage that can be traced to a Japanese founder. Senior members of this division include Wayne Muromoto Sensei, Kevin Heard Sensei, and Ohsaki Jun Sensei.

Karate-do Division
Karate-do is a martial art developed in Okinawa from indigenous fighting methods and Chinese martial systems. It is primarily a striking art using punching, kicking, as well as knee and elbow strikes. Grappling, joint locking, throws, and chokes are also taught in some styles (ryu). Karate-do means “the way of the empty hand,” although its original meaning was “Chinese hand.” Traditional karate-do contains elements of physical, mental, and spiritual training in most systems.

It was introduced to Japan by Funakoshi Gichin Sensei (1868-1957), where it developed sport aspects. Today, karate-do is practiced in nearly every nation, and a large number of Okinawan and Japanese versions have been developed.

The SMAA Karate-do Division is open to any form of classical karate-do, which has a linage that can be traced to a Japanese founder. This division is lead by Karl Scott Sensei (SMAA So-shihan and seventh dan). Scott Sensei has a lifetime of experience in Shorin Ryu and Shudokan karate-do. He trained in Okinawa under Shimabukuro Eizo Sensei (Shorin Ryu tenth dan), and in the USA under Ichikawa Isao Sensei (Doshinkan tenth dan) and Walter Todd Sensei (Wado Ryu, Shotokan, and Shudokan). Among the notable members of the SMAA Karate-do Division are Tom Kosslow Sensei, who holds as seventh dan in Wado Ryu, Joseph Rippy Sensei (Wado Ryu sixth dan), and Hunter Armstrong Sensei of the Goju Ryu.