To Buko or not to Buko?
I have had several prospective students e-mail me saying they were interested in doing both Tatsumi ryu and Toda-ha Buko ryu. I always explain that I didn’t allow people to start in two koryu at the same time, and that they would have to make a choice. While some weapons overlap, there are enough technical differences to make your life as a beginner pretty miserable. In the case of students who are already doing one koryu with me, I require them to do three years of practice in one before applying to do the other as well.
I hope this list of questions and the table below comparing Toda-ha Buko ryu and Tatsumi ryu will help people decide. While nothing beats actually observing a style, here are a few questions to start you off. Nowadays you can see almost anything you care to research on Youtube. I’d encourage you to watch as many clips of Buko ryu and Tatsumi ryu as you can before coming to any decision.
Do you want a sword centred style, with lots of iai and kenjutsu? Then I would suggest Tatsumi ryu.
Or would you like to do a variety of weapons, including the sword, but you are not too bothered if the sword is not the main weapon? Go for Buko ryu.
Conversely, does iai bore you to tears? Cross Tatsumi ryu off your list. There’s a lot of iai, and it is done every lesson.
Or is your main interest in pole-arms, such as the glaive, halberd and spear? Buko ryu would be the way to go.
Would you want to do a style which had a strong close quarter combat component? Go for Tatsumi ryu. There are no such techniques in Buko ryu.
Are you already quite proficient in CQC, and wold prefer not to do another system? Then go for Buko ryu.
You really want to do a koryu, but your time is limited? Buko ryu has a smaller syllabus.
You are currently doing Kendo and are interested in its roots? Try Tatsumi ryu.
You are currently doing atarashi naginata and are looking for its roots? Try Buko ryu
Having said all that, logic can only take us so far. Your logical mind may indicate one style, but you may be blown away watching the other. And since we are in the business of developing and trusting our intuition, my advice would be to go with your gut instinct.
|TATSUMI RYU||TODA-HA BUKO RYU|
|Aim||Victory on battlefield or in duel||Victory on battlefield|
|Most recent location||Sakura City, Chiba-ken||Tokyo|
|Type of organisation||Headmaster||Independent Shihan|
|Training method||Both solo (iai) and pair-work||Pair-work only|
|Has sword program#||Yes||No*|
|Has naginata program#||No||Yes|
|Has spear program||Yes||No|
|Strategy||Constant Forward Pressure||Attack By Drawing|
*Ellis Amdur Shihan has come up with a set of kata under the name of Komochi ryu fill these gaps in the Buko ryu syllabus.
#The term ‘program’ here refers to have a specific and detailed program for teaching the skills necessary to use the weapon in question.