Monday, June 7, 2010

Introducing "Mu Ryu"

A week ago or so we ran a piece about training in public parks, and the reaction of people who watch you train. I joked that I saw a tv comedian say that he asked a guy practicing Tai Chi in the park "How many dead people do you have in your freezer?".
Well, much as in the "Dog Brothers" stick-fighting tradition, these guys in the "Mu Ryu" club pull out all the stops.
They train at The Labyrinth Hall at Col. Summers Park in Portland, Oregon. The Labyrinth gives the training a cool Gothic feel, and mixed weapons are used.
Here's from the FAQ on their website:

"Mu Ryu?
Mu Ryu means “No School”.
The flesh is the student. The sword is the teacher. The fight is the test.

Duel with What?
Our swords and armor are modified to be heretically practical. So what about tradition - why do what people did just because they did it? Do what works. Don’t do what’s been done. Fuck what was just because it was.

Mu Ryu Swords:
Bamboo swords called shinai, used in Kendo, are given thickened tips to prevent injuries and add additional weight forward on that sword which helps make the sword heavier like a steel sword, which forces real body-mechanics - swords should swing and slash, not snap and flick.

Other customizations include swords modified with cut down handles to turn "katanas" to "sabers". Others have moved their guard midway to the hilt for a "longsword". Handles and pommels have been thickened while others have been modified to have custom hilts like Western bell guards.

Mu Ryu Spears:
Spears & halberds are made from pvc & padding. [production cost <$5]

Mu Ryu Knives:
Knives are made from dowel rods, cardboard & tape. [production cost <$2]

Other Weapons used:
Axes, whipchains, shorts swords, etc.

Mu Ryu Armor:
People who fight can opt to wear the following armor: lacrosse helmets, lacrosse gloves, cheap & great soccer shin guards for forearm, and guards for the knees/shins. Helmets are mandatory must be used for any full contact fighting. Additional armor is encouraged. Almost everybody wears gloves.

Is this fencing or kendo?
No. Unlike fencing or kendo, Mu Ryu doesn't dictate anything or limit targets and techniques. Fencers and kendoists are welcome to fight and are welcome to shed their sports' restrictions. We don't have them and won't submit to them."

(D.R.)-- These guys are spirited and it looks like they have a ton of fun. I'm not sure if any of them have had formal training in other martial arts, but they reference everything from Irish traditional to Kendo, Bagua Palms and Tai Chi sword. This would be a good proving ground for people who have some formal weapons training to go up against these scrappers and test their skills.
The Mu Ryu group takes their lumps and bruises, but they show good sportsmanship and I'll bet they learn what works and doesn't work pretty quickly.

If you are in the Portland area and want to train with them, contact by Email
You can find additional information on their website LINKED HERE.

If you have an informal training group and want to send pictures and videos, leave a comment and link in the comments section or contact us at


Sean C. Ledig said...

I wanna fight that dude who wears his pants down at his knees.

Sensei Strange said...

While it looks like fun, calling it 'no school' might be accurate.

Ikigai said...

Sometimes those stodgy old styles can be helpful in learning how to actually fight with weapons. Controlling weapon centerline, for example, is something that traditional swordsmanship, kendo, and kobudo helped me learn.

I've always gone by the notion of learning what core concepts make weapons work, and what allows for advantages in weapons combat, and then experiment afterwards.

I do enjoy kobudo randori though, and they definitely have something like that going on.

Zacky Chan said...

That big dude who seems to do pretty well just pisses me off though. Someone should have done a better job of getting inside of him it seems. Still looks a lot like kendo despite it trying to be more realistic. It looks like they're just aiming to wack someone with the end of the stick. If it was a live blade, you can use the whole blade, getting close and slicing. But whatever, looks like fun.

daniele.perkele said...

I like the idea, but honestly, I've been in some amateur swordfighting and it looks like those guys know nothing about swords at all. I've seen totally untrained people using their weapons much better.

VIN said...

Some of the people in the video were fighting for the first time. We'd love to face more skilled swordsman. Here is a video with better fighting.