“Here we do things differently” is a marketing cliché. Most of the time the different thing is just the same thing with new wrapping, or different because it’s not actually the real thing at all but a shoddy counterfeit.
Valkyrie is one of the exceptions. This is a martial arts school shockingly absent of Orientalist trappings or black-and-camo “street” fauxthenticity, identifying itself not by the tropes but the substance of what it teaches – any given lesson, whatever lineage the subject matter has come from, looks and feels like the distillation of years of trying to understand the principles behind it. There are secret moves and tactics, but only in the sense that they are not known and must be discovered – the instructors are not their gatekeepers to us, but our guides to them.
When I was asked for a testimonial I had just read a piece by David Clayton about several contemporary Russian iconographers. One paragraph immediately reminded me of something about David’s approach to martial arts that I’ve admired long before Valkyrie was founded, and of which what we do at Valkyrie is a faithful continuation:
“This flexibility is the sign of a vibrant living tradition, one in which individual expression is allowed, but always in conformity to the principles that define it. As a result, the tradition reinvents itself with each new generation and so is able to connect with the people of its day. No tradition can rely exclusively on its canon of past works to maintain its relevance; it must always create anew, or else it will die.”
The paragraph that follows that is also relevant, and speaks to the aggressive, unapologetic inclusivity that is pervasive throughout Valkyrie’s approach, but to quote that and comment would make this testimonial much too long.