Why we wrote Akban-wiki

By Yossi Sheriff

The AKBAN-wiki, an ongoing project of collecting martial knowledge

The purpose of the Akban-wiki - concisely

We wanted to document martial arts, martial sports and systems. We wanted to document it all. We wanted the documentation to be precise, conclusive and free from ego and show off. We were willing to compromise - we think that having documentation of a mediocre technique is better than no documentation. We need the participation of diverse practitioners, or else we will be only documenting the martial arts we do.

Now for an in-depth explanation of the thinking and effort that went behind the scene:

The benefits of sharing

Many fields have benefited from the sharing and distribution of safe knowledge and training methods. The huge amount of material practiced in our organization has forced us to find means to organize and validate the techniques we use. We found our knowledge to be lacking in some fields and our ability to perform all the martial techniques we are interested in, sometimes flawed.

Organizing visual materials in a semantic web

After years of trying to make a workable database with MS acess, we created this mash up between two user generated platforms: , youtube and at some point Kaltura, and discovered that it can help us reap even more benefits in three particular areas:

  1. Orientation in the vast field of Ninjutsu and related martial arts we practice.
  2. Gathering hidden connections. With our system to describe relations between techniques (example at the bottom of this article) we can learn many things we did not know because of a narrow focus point.
  3. Constant improvement - one of the main AKBAN themes. With this powerful tool we can hone and refine the techniques, get valuable feedback and improve.

We did this by:

  1. Tagging the video with categories and nestling the categories inside meta categories with the use of a logical tree. Since the techniques are not physical entities they can be "inserted" into many such trees. It so happens that some of the categories overlap and so we have Juji gatame residing in "Fighting from a position", in "BJJ by goal/submissions" and in "Ninjutsu/Ne waza".
  2. Making the techniques relate to each other and giving the connections an attributes.

This was done by using a semantic wiki. It allows us to think of ways that the techniques, the visuals, react with each other. examples of relations are:

  • What is the counter of the technique?
  • What moves does this technique react to?
  • Which techniques are similar to the current one?
  • What are the principles of performing this technique? (Tutorial)


Starting to organize martial knowledge

We had to find a way to start organizing and navigating in this vast data field. One of the problems was the visual element that goes with every martial technique, this visual element was impenetrable to search engines, so we thought of tagging. we thought about it many years before it happened on the web. Than we thought of nestling categories, we thought of hierarchies, we thought of the wisdom of the crowds, we thought of many things but we lacked the exact applications until the wonderful guys at the Wikipediaand wikimedia thought about it and found the solution. Thank you guys.

Mash up of the wikipedia with Youtube

We finally, after years of upgrading from text documents to MS access, had a suitable platform to start working with. And we had a vision: Veteran martial arts practitioners would upload video through popular services and a selected group of editors would tag these and leave only the cream of performances. This does not seem to be a problem in Karate for instance, where we have many excellent performances of kata, but it is a major headache finding good visual that is not copyrighted at martial arts where you have newly reconstituted kata, for example in western swordplay.

Why is it that we, in AKBAN, tried do attempt this?

Ninjutsu, the martial art that we practice in AKBAN, is a very special and traditional martial system - it collects and uses everything that is useful, it is eclectic.

Teachers in our line (Takamatsu den) have collected not only techniques but whole systems (Ryu). We continue to do the same while at the same time trying to keep the tradition accurate.

The movies, the Kata, the information, are all meant to be improved so they can be a useful reference in the future. We are not the only authority, you, if you are a practicing veteran, are too.

So, our agenda...

We mean to preserve and make accurate, we mean to add and share martial knowledge in a safe and professional environment.