Did you ever hear about Tengu-ryu Karatedo ? If not, here is a quick presentation, followed by a few doubts I have about this system.
Soke Roland Habersetzer is well known in the french-speaking countries as a pioneer of karate in France and as the author of about 30 books on karate, as well as others on Kung-Fu, Self-defense, Kobudo, etc. As a passionate traditionalist, he has always been very critical of the « downward slides » of modern karate. In 1974 he founded the CRB (Centre de Recherche Budo) in Strasbourg, France. 17 dojos from several countries including Russia and Canada are now part of the organisation. Over the years he has built his own vision of karatedo, which finally became incarnated in a new "school" : Tengu-ryu Karatedo. According to its founder, it is not really a school, but a « direction » that can fit any existing style.
Tengu-ryu promotes « a realistic state of mind that introduces the notion of stress in a fighting situation where survival is at stake, and the responsability of the chosen action ». Its central idea is « do not fight, do not suffer (in the sense of not passively enduring) ». Basically, Self-defense. Its practice is based on three katas, which really represent the core of this « Way » (Tengu-no-michi) :
1. Kumite-no-kata (created in 1974) : It is a serie of ten mini-fights, done with a partner, tori and uke switching each time. It is a « search for harmony through a dialogue of the classical techniques of karatedo ».
2. Kara-ho Tengu-no-kata (created in 2003) : It is a « behavior kata », much more based on principle than on technique. It is practiced in four directions, at three different ranges, and adaptable to kobudo weapons and to firearms (Ho-jutsu).
3. Tengu Goshin-no-kata (created in 2006) : A kata of personal protection, made of 10 series, done with a partner. It works on self-defense principles such as tunnel vision/ peripheral vision, color code, degrees of reactivity depending on the situation, scanning-searching, etc. The partner « is not considered as a karateka but as an aggressor such as could be encountered in the real world ».
Obviously the man has been around, and didn’t get his 9th dan in a treat cone. But still, here are a few points I find questionable:
• All the self-defense principles are part of a functional karate and can (should) be practiced using the existing techniques and katas, and I wonder if there is a need to reinvent the wheel.
• The guard (tengu-no-kamae) is highly debatable. If we’re talking self-defense, you are not going to take such an obvious guard (you probably won’t take any), and for fighting…well, it’s just bad. The first movement is literally the drawing of a gun, since the kata is meant to be adaptable for weapons ! (see video and website)
• The kumite-no-kata was created in a spirit of « harmony », somewhat like aïkido. It’s a nice idea in itself, but we’re talking about practical martial art here. It seems to be in direct opposition to « a realistic state of mind that introduces the notion of stress in a fighting situation where survival is at stake »
• Others points that are a bit too specific to be discussed here.
I’d be really happy to know your thoughts about this. Did you know about Tengu-ryu? Do you see a particular value in this approach? Do you see any other weird or questionable things?
I made this presentation as compact as I could. If you want any further information, see the links bellow.
Quotes are all from Roland Habersetzer’s « Les trois katas fondamentaux du Tengu-ryu Karatedo » (my translation).
Link to videos of the kumite-no-kata : http://karate-crb.com/kumite_video.htm
Link to the CRB website : http://www.tengu.fr/index13.html
(There is an english version)
Video about a CRB dojo (sorry, it's in French) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNLbrhpZeWQ
All the best,