Ishiyama-ryū is a unique American expression of traditional Japanese swordsmanship created by Russell McCartney Sensei, the Chief Instructor of Ishiyama-ryū. The style was developed after over several decades of research, personal insight, and practice in Toyama Ryu, Nakamura Ryu, Ryuseiken, Muso Shinden Ryu, Aikido and Aikijutsu, Karate-do, Wing Chun, and Tai chi. Ishiyama-ryū is an eclectic style that not only draws upon several martial traditions, but is also inspired by the patterns and rhythms of nature. The result is an art form characterized by dynamic and fluid movements which utilize multiple angles of engagement while cultivating a unification of body, breath, mind, instrument, and spirit.
Why We Train
The kind of dynamic level of active training to which we aspire is meant to simulate real encounters. As we heighten our senses of observation and response time to a level of reaction speed, our whole being benefits from the experience. Vigorous training must start slowly. Little by little, our bodies readily accept this format. Movement is what the physical body was made to do. Psychologically, the mind sharpens its awareness in all of its processes and tasks. We literally begin to think more clearly. This symbiosis of mind and body nourishes one's whole being.
How The Practice Works
This kind of training is so vitally important because in real situations of attack and defense, one must be able to respond naturally, like spontaneously running from a falling rock. We train vigorously to simulate that occurrence. If one only trains casually and slowly without focus and precise direction, the mind becomes relaxed and loses sharpness and keen awareness. For the one applying technique (the Tori, which also means gateway)--when entering quickly and applying a crisp technique--a heightened sense of awareness is necessary to control one's actions. This, too, simulates a real encounter. Yet because we are protecting our partner, we maintain the safest of margins. Because the partner (the one receiving technique) realizes the other is entering crisply and strongly regardless of the technique being used, they, too, must develop the same crispness in their role as attacker and use the appropriate movements to maintain their safety. The result is a dynamic connectedness of graceful power between the practitioners.
In the ultimate sense, great focus is required for this activity. When both people approach training in this way, the mind of the beginner is transformed. The heightened sense of control necessary to maintain safety by both parties sharpens the mind and is likened to the sharpening of the sword. The person training is moved from an unrefined, undisciplined and casual appearance to a state of shining brilliance through the crisp dynamic movement of technique.
Apart from the physical benefits of conditioning, the individual's character gains substance. The stronger and more controlled the training, the greater the individual's ability to handle emotion and the psychology of their life and interpersonal situations. This gift received from training is an art form that increases physical conditioning, mental stability, and encourages a calm, resolved and compassionate approach to life. This heightened sense of awareness in the self and all things in your surroundings is also the most effective form of self-defense. This is paired training for Battojutsu. Compassion and protection is the tone of the exchange during training. Through this exchange, the principles of fair play, trust and compassion filter into life beyond the training floor.
The Psychology and Philosophy of Change
This is the difference between our success and the failure of well-meaning yet negatively motivated agendas. Good habits are the key to success; bad habits the unlocked door to failure. Not simply the physical mechanics of right action, but a mind conscious of right. This concept forms a path referred to as "the way". That which is neither pro nor con for the sake of personal gain, but one which instills a directive of greater good.