Uchû Sayû: Mastering The Space-time Continuum  

The concept of “Kannin Dokuson” (1), the Mutō Dori of 2017 involves the control of the center of space.

Since Albert Einstein, we know that time and space are interconnected. They are like inyō. There is no duality, only a space-time unity.

Sayû, the well-known Bujinkan principle of “left-right”, also means “control”. Once again, it is similar to “inyō” (the Japanese “yinyang”). Therefore controlling the space is to control the unified interaction of yinyang within time. (2)

Last November, Sensei said the Kaname was to control the centre of the space delimited by the two opponents. (3) 

A few months later, I understand it better. He was preparing us to get the simple complexity of “Kannin Dokuson”: “mutual respect, self-respect, respect of the attacker”. 

The moment you control the space between, and around, the two opponents, you are capable to control Time itself. Therefore we can see Uchû Sayû (宇左右), the “control of space-time” (4) , as Uchû Sayû (裏中左右), “to control the invisible center of a situation”. (5)


1. 貫忍 独尊 Kannin Dokuson

Kan 貫/ 貴ぶ/tattobu/to value; to prize; to esteem; to respect

Nin 忍/nin/endurance; forbearance; patience; self-restraint

Dokuson 独り/hitori/one person|alone; unmarried; solitary and

Son 尊ぶ/tattobu/to value; to prize; to esteem; to respect

2. 左右/sayû/left and right|influence; control; domination

3. 要/kaname/pivot|vital point; cornerstone; keystone

4. 宇宙/uchû/universe; cosmos; space

5. 裏中 U-chû 

裏/u-/ura/bottom (or another side that is hidden from view); undersurface; opposite side; reverse side|rear; back; behind (the house)

中/chuu/medium; average; middle|moderation. 

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Push Your Limits

While in Dubai, we had a nice discussion after the Sakki test. The new Dubai Shidōshi, was telling me that when I came him for the test, he thought his heart was going to explode. He was scared to death. 

But we all know, the only risk is a bump in the top of the head. There’s no need to be afraid. Tense, yes. But far, no. 

We are afraid when don’t know. Training, the Sakki test, is only a question of knowing. The more we learn, and the more we know. The more we know , and the more we push our self  imposed limits. 

Life is about pushing these limits. When you are afraid of something, the best attitude (Kamae) is to face it, to see what is the origin of your fear. 

Many people have fears they never confronted. To me this is not the path of a true Bujinkan practitioner. Learning the Bujinkan way is to accept those challenges and situations. 

All my life I have faced my fears: heights, depths, speaking to large groups, etc. This is why I did skydiving, mountain climbing, Scuba  diving, and big seminars. 

Everytime I found out that there was no logical reasons for my fears. Our fears exist prior to the experience. They are simply a mental construction that has no real foundation. They come from our reluctance to changes. 

After so many years in the Bujinkan, I can say that one of the most interesting aspects of sensei’s teachings is to develop this ability to survive and to push our limits. 

Instead of being afraid of the unknown, face it and tame it. It’s easier than you think. 

When I called Hatsumi sensei right after the Fukushima catastrophe, and asked him if he was planning to leave, his answer was “Banpen Fugyō”. To me this is the answer to any fear: Ten thousand changes, no surprise! 

Do not accept your limits, free yourself from fear itself be recognizing  it for what it is: an illusion. 

You want to be happy? Push your limits, because if you don’t, they will become your true limits. 

Ps: congratulations to the first shidōshi made in UAE. 
Paris Taikai 2017 registration

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Train Large And Slow

Many wonder why we train slowly in the Bujinkan. They criticize it, saying that real Martial Arts (understand Sports martial arts here) are better because they have fights. They love the fact that there is always a winner and a loser. “It makes it easier to know who is good and who is not”, they say.

They are right! Sport is a fantastic pedagogical tool, it is a perfect system to develop your body, your reflexes and you should do sports until the end, that is until you are too old to compete.

And at what age is that? I would say around thirty. That’s nice but what do you do for the rest of your life? You quit? No. You train real martial arts.

This age problem didn’t exist in the past. First, you would hardly live past fifty. Actual combat was making sure of that.

Second in Feudal Japan, there was no sport (it was the same in Europe). Sport as we know it, is a modern thing created after WWII. Before, it was reserved to the nobles. Why? because they didn’t have to work six or seven days a week to eat. Getting bored, they developed the concept of sport. The Marquess of Queensbury defined some rules that are still valid today, the Baron of Coubertin reinstaured the Olympics. But that was only at the end of the 19th century. Before that sport is non-existent. 

In sport martial arts, the champions of today lose the world title one year, and get it back on the next year. This was not the case in actual battle, you always died when you lost the encounter. 

What we train in the Bujinkan is based on History. It is the result of actual battlefield combat. The winners being able to transmit what worked, the nine fighting systems taught in the Bujinkan are regrouping only techniques that were tested in real fight. To learn these techniques, you need to do it in a special way. You have to repeat them slowly.

When training in Japan with Nagato sensei, you can often hear him say: “train slowly, only stupid people train fast.”

Training slowly allows the body and the brain to create specific conexions that upgrade our standard “human survival kit” with which we are born. To develop these new abilities, it is also important to use large movements. Doing large movements helps to learn correctness. 

Because of the adrenalin rushing in our body, because of the impossibility to think or plan anything while caught in the middle of the battle, only your reflexes can save you. If you developed new reflexes by training large and slow, there is a chance that you can react adequately, and surpass your attacker.

Maybe it’s time to change the training habits. 

Reminder Paris Taikai registration is open 


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A Pattern 荒む Growing Wild: Bujinkan Strategies of control Part 5

Nezu Bamboo. photo by Michael Glenn
Have you ever leaned against a tree and felt the wind blowing the whole trunk? It is an interesting feeling because the trunk feels so solid, yet it sways in the wind. Even a small breeze can shift the whole thing.

One Tuesday night in the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo I felt this from Hatsumi Sensei. It was so soft and subtle that it would be easy to miss. And at this point, Soke said,
“Don't do too much. Whether it's in contact or not, you're moving away. But you're not trying to do it. 力を感じさせない chikara o kanji sasenai.”
Chikara o kanji sasenai. This means you don’t let the opponent feel your power.  You don’t let him feel any technique from you. Or any force, or power. You may use force and power, but you want to use it in a way that he cannot feel it! Then when it affects him, he has no idea where it comes from or how to counter it.

That afternoon I had spent some time in a bamboo grove near 関さんの森 Seki-san no mori. The breeze was quite strong. I stared in wonder at the movement of the very tall bamboo as they swayed and squeaked against each other in the sky above me. I placed my hand on one of the culms. I felt it move my palm softly.

In this way you do not telegraph or give away your intent. This is a fascinating way of using taijutsu. You are responsive to your opponent, but not fighting.

Hatsumi Sensei showed this again when his opponent grabbed his wrist. He told us,
 “He will have the tendency (勝ち gachi) to relax his grab so you wait for that. Then you move with 雅致 gachi (artistry or grace) to control with your feet. Study this connection.”
He then told us we should float the opponent in the kukan. What does that mean? Well, imagine a heavy object like a bundle of bamboo. It would be hard to push around with one finger. But if it were floating as a raft in the water, you could push and turn it through the water with very little force. Even if someone were sitting on it, you could still move it easily.

This is what happens to your opponent when you float him in the kukan. Hatsumi Sensei said that one of the themes for the Jugodans in this type of training was to be able to apply a technique without really doing it. He told us to not use any technique, yet have it happen anyway.

He described it as 荒むのパターン susamu no pataan. This is a pattern of wildness. There's no pattern but it's all connected.

This is challenging to get your mind around. If you think of a technique like omote gyaku, or ganseki nage, these are techniques that you normally have to do yourself. And we train hard to learn to apply them correctly. But for us Jugodans, we have to have these techniques happen without actually doing them ourselves.

One clue for how to do this was when Soke told us to break the balance in the space. You do this by becoming the kukan yourself. If you become the kukan, there is no pattern and you can be free. This is the kind of control he wants us to embody.
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Muto Dori With Marishiten

Michael Glenn 

at 摩利支天 徳大寺 Marishiten tokudaiji

The other night in Hatsumi Sensei's class I ran to grab a bokken from the weapon rack. When I returned, my training partner was waiting for my attack so he could try the muto Dori technique that Soke had just demonstrated.

When I cut down I had a great surprise. Hatsumi Sensei appeared from behind my training partner. He pushed my training partner aside so that I was cutting at Soke instead!

I thought that I hit something but Soke was beside me laughing. Somehow I missed. He said that I should learn this feeling.

This year one of the main themes of the training in Japan is Muto Dori. Anyone who has cut at Soke will tell you that he disappears or even splits in two. 

That was what I experienced this time. It was like there were two of him. I hit one but that was an illusion. 

I've often struggled to understand the reality behind this. Even though I can sometimes do this with my own students, the act remains elusive from any explanation.

But today I was lucky. Hatsumi Sensei gave us a big clue later on in the class. He showed a knife evasion and he said to move like the heat wave from  摩利支天 Marishiten. He said this as an aside to his uke and then he moved on. 

Marishiten is a goddess I have some familiarity with. One of the very first shrines I visited in Japan was  摩利支天徳大寺 Marishiten tokudaiji in Tokyo. This place is a bit hidden in the middle of a very urban market.

Marishiten is very important for warriors and for ninja. She protects because she uses illusion to help us disappear from our enemies. In Mikkyō (esoteric Buddhism), there are mantra and mudra which are said to make a warrior invisible.

Marishiten appears like a ray of light or mirage. Her image is like a shimmering heat that bends light. Under her protection, anyone who attacks us would be blinded by illusion.

The illusion comes in rays of shimmering light. When you look, it is like staring into the sun, and Marishiten charges from within this brilliance. 

When Soke said this a subtle light went off in my brain. This ineffable feeling he wanted me to understand was now more than just an odd experience I feel when I attack him.  You have to see more than the illusion.

Maybe my training is to grasp the nature of the mirage and illusion that arises from Marishiten. This is one aspect of Hatsumi Sensei's lesson to me. But an odd side effect of this knowledge it is that I can now learn to counter this. 

The mirage of Marishiten is a type of blindness. Once you can see and pierce through this veil, what lies beyond it grows clearer. I do not know what surprises Soke has waiting for me when I see past this layer, but I suspect it will open like the lotus blossom.

Marishiten is often depicted standing on a lotus. But her more angry form is shown standing on the back of a wild boar. Hopefully I will see flowers instead of beasts!
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