What is Ishi Yama Ryu?
Ishi Yama Ryu (stone-mountain school) is a school
of dynamic Japanese-style swordsmanship founded by Russel McCartney
Sensei. It is characterized by being the only style of swordsmanship
that addresses dynamic technique in multiple attack and directions
in the flow of movement. The highest level of this practice is tameshigiri
(target test cutting) where the swordsman cuts multiple targets
in multiple directions in the flow of movement with a symbiosis
of mind body breath and instrument.
Our motto for Ishi Yama Ryu:
Shu Mamoru -- to defend, protect, keep, observe, obey, abide by,
stick by, and be true to the teacher, the school, its members and
Why training with the sword is so important:
It is an instrument of great beauty, as well as a weapon in striking
down oppressors, thereby giving life to those who are oppressed.
Because the training leads to the use of real swords, this art form
requires the most sincere training. The power of focus and concentration
must be developed to the fullest to maintain safety. This is a universal
truth applicable to all situations. This also relates to katsujinken--the
sword that gives life.
As we practice we must envision those things which keep us from
performing at our optimum, i.e. greed, fear, ego, envy, jealousy
. . . whatever holds us back. These things are visualized as the
target in front of us and cutting through those things leads us
to a stronger sense of self, of who we are.This is a practice which
ultimately rids us of self deception, building spiritual strength.
Anzen dai ichi:
This means safety first. This thought must be with us always in
sword class and with our training partners in Aikijutsu, as well
as outside the school in our daily lives. As focus and concentration
improves, we are placed more closely to our inner selves. This harmony
-- achieved of mind and body -- expands to harmony and awareness
with our environment.
- Sensei Russell McCartney
The Style of Ishi Yama Ryu
Some "Japanese" systems do have certain spiritual practices
that are requirements of the training. In Yagyu Shinkage Ryu for
one example, there is a long list of precepts that work in conjunction
with the technical practice that moves the practitioner toward a
better outlook on and participation of living ones life. In IYR
the practice can enrich the connection with ones spiritual self
as well. In this way there are also some principles used as guides
to enrich and balance ones life. The sword is after all a metaphor
The way one practices their swordsmanship (their unique representation
of it) is usually associated with some level of their consciousness.
When a strong connection is achieved between the technical, physical,
spiritual, mental and visual, in that order, referred to as the
'Unified Movement Principle'. It is the balanced unification of
mind, body, breath, and instrument, also in this specific order.
For those of you who are paying attention you will notice that both
descriptions has an opposite order for each explanation of the same
thing. This is one of those phenomena where two opposite equally
correct approaches describe the same thing. This quite often is
a positive indicator of good balance in principle and technique
if conflicting descriptions and methods balance in the final analysis
of whether the techniques and strategy works or not.
IYRB is specifically designed for multiple encounter/attack/defend
situations and as such is the only Japanese 'style type' that does
so with consistent predictable results. Ultimately in the final
analysis and highest level of performance, there is no difference
in its execution that separates it from kata, tameshigiri, sparring
or combat. Though there are of course only eight basic cuts and
five basic attitudes positions in any Japanese based style, these
combinations produce innumerable variables that make up the vast
amount of Japanese based technique in the world today. Of those
of Japanese origin only two to three or at most four are typically
used in any kata sequence. And of that vast number of representations
there are precious few that are combatively practical and fewer
still that can cut a simple target at the same time much less those
that can make it happen in the flow of movement. The flow and multidirectional
aspect of the IYRB advanced forms are therefore unique in its approach
to the sword arts.
Why a Course Approach To "Begining" Technique
The details of ‘pre and post cut’ positioning are very
specific. By instilling these patterned positions in a students
muscle memory we lay a positive pattern of habitual action that
Its design is to provide time and opportunity for the ‘Beginning’
student to set the appropriate stance, posture, sword rotation and
grip in the ‘pre draw’ position. Next it accentuates
the details of opening the hips to the left (loading the spring
of the hips) through the drawing motion, pulling the sword into
the grip after the tip leaves the opening of the saya where the
initiating movement of the wrist trick with the ‘unloading’
of the allows one to cut through the target with hip power.
It concludes with pauses that continue to provide time to double
check that the stance, posture, triangulation lines, and the finishing
movements of the chiburi and noto are in place and where they should
Here is the beginning of ‘one continual movement’. The
‘segments’ are longer and another cut is added to the
pattern. This level also introduces the style of comportment forward
that resembles natural walking (the basic and general movement that
precipitates all kata before the sword is drawn.
This level also introduces the basic rule of this methodology that
“when the sword is in an upper middle position the feet are
always together”. In Course Two there are still some pauses
that provide time for the student to analyze their positioning from
‘pre draw/cut’ to Jodan kamae for a momentary pause
then on to Hasso kamae with another pause to check the ‘pre
cut’ position and then on to the additional cut of kesa giri
and it’s ‘post cut’ position. This is the end
of the ‘cut sequence’.
Throughout this sequential kata pattern the student continually
steps forward and at the conclusion of the sequence after ‘kiokske’,
there are three steps back to the beginning position of the kata.
This is the next progression of ‘one continual movement’
and the introduction of the ‘Three T’s’ (turning
timing and transition). Movement to an additional direction with
changing timing allows one to transition to the upper levels of
swordsmanship participation. Here too we introduce the ‘Triangulation
principle’ to our footwork along with ‘Offsetting movement’.
In this kata series the segments become longer between ‘defining
movements’ and changing timing brings more ‘kime bunkai’
to the pattern. The overall feeling from ‘post cut’
to ‘post cut’ should be flowing and each segment should
accelerate to a stop. At this level the overall context of the movements
should have the same quality of flow as the swing or ‘suriashi’
has. Return movements from the ‘kiokske’ to the finish
should angle back to the ‘point of origin’ for the kata.