What Did Hatsumi Sensei Say Four Times in the First Four Minutes of Training?

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

聖観世音菩薩立像 on top of 万人塚 Banninzuka. photo Michael Glenn
In December, during a Friday night class at the Bujinkan Honbu Dojo, Hatsumi Sensei repeated a word four times in the first four minutes of class. In fact, he said it both as a statement and a question as if we just didn’t get it. ゆっくりかな。 Yukkuri, kana?

First, he had Nagase Sensei stab at him and he said,
We’re not studying the form, we’re studying muto dori. ゆっくり。 (Yukkuri)
ゆっくり Yukkuri got translated as, “Go slowly or take your time.” But those words in English don’t capture the full idea.

A moment later Soke repeated,
The feeling is very important. ゆっくり。(Yukkuri). You can create this lock here on the elbow. Take the knife. It has to be connected like this. This kind of feeling is important. ゆっくりと。(Yukkuri to)
My training partner stabbed at me and I tried to use the feeling that Soke had just shared. But I saw Soke glance at me and he interrupted the entire class again to demonstrate,
This feeling. ゆっくりかな。
This was said like a question, "Yukkuri, kana?"

Well, I did wonder. The translation was to go slowly. But in the first four minutes of class Soke had used three or four different ukes and did several henka, all while stressing the importance of yukkuri. Not very slow at all.

Up until that moment, I had a slow day. I visited a memorial for the 明暦の大火 Meireki no taika,  also known as the Furisode fire.  Which was rumored to start from the burning of a teenager's cursed kimono.

Here I said a prayer at the 万人塚 Banninzuka. This mound of a million souls was set up by the Shogun to bury the many nameless victims of that great fire that killed more than 100,000 people. The gravesite is still a burial place for anyone who has no relatives to look after their funeral.

On the way to the dojo, I bought a coffee at the konbini in the train station. The store clerk was a middle aged man wearing a Santa hat. He asked if I needed a bag. I replied, シールでいいです。 He made a goofy smile as he stuck a piece of tape on the can.

Japanese is full of little phrases that have different meanings in context. Yukkuri is one that you will hear often in Hatsumi Sensei’s class. It can mean to move slowly. But a more subtle meaning is to move at your own pace, in a relaxed way.

You don’t want your opponent to set the tempo of the fight. One time Soke told us,
You don't have to move fast. Slowly, slowly… like a snake that is hunting its prey. You wrap him up with your own body.
And another time Tezuka-san stabbed and Soke faded back. He said,
Yukkuri. Keep it connected. With this feeling, you become almost like a (妖怪 youkai) spirit or a monster.
When you are able to move at your on pace, in this leisurely way, you draw power from all around. Hatsumi Sensei said that we Daishihan are always taking the Godan test. We must have this connection of the air and of the wind, a connection of the kukan. It is the same idea whether giving or taking the Godan test, where a kind of Divine connection is important.

That is where the power comes from.

Next to the 万人塚 Banninzuka where I said my prayer earlier in the day, there is another mound. It is called 力塚 Chikarazuka, a power mound. It was built as a memorial to past Sumo wrestlers. Now the young ones pray there to draw upon the power of their elders.

I didn’t pray there, because I draw power from Soke and my teachers at the Honbu dojo. We are lucky to have this living art that is not buried in mounds and monuments. I will continue to train Yukkuri, at ease and with my own pace.

STICK FIGHTING, traditional self defence techniques with MATS HJELM

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

Stick Fighting, traditional self defence techniques is a follow up on the old Stick Fighting, Techniques for Self Defence video released 9 years ago. This video cover the traditional aspect of Stick Fighting.

On this video Mats show all 16 Hanbō techniques from the nearly 700 year old school Kukishin-ryū in the Bujinkan system. In the first level there is nine techniques against someone armed with a short sword or knife. The second and third levels is against someone armed with a sword. The instructions are in English.

This video was recorded at a seminar done by Mats Hjelm in Tallinn, Estonia in February 25-26’th 2020. The seminar was organised by Bujinkan Estonia.

The standard 48 minute video shows all 16 basic techniques.

HD1280x720 903,3Mb

The extended 100 minute video with additional variations and explanations.

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Here is an outline of all the stick fighting techniques in this school which was taught at this seminar.









Stick Fighting video cover

The standard 48 minute video shows all 16 basic techniques.

HD1280x720 903,3Mb

The extended 100 minute video with additional variations and explanations.

HD1280x720 1,85Gb

Bonus stick fighting video

At the last hour on the last day we finished off the training where the participants showed a Taijutsu technique of their choice, and Mats showed how the technique could be done with the Hanbo (stick fighting). This footage is not included in any of the download videos, it is only available at our Bitchute channel (download it for free from there). Create an account on Bitchute and subscribe to our channel.

About the instructor

Mats Hjelm started training in Bujinkan for the first time around 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986 he had the opportunity to start training more seriously under a Shidōshi. He has taught at numerous seminars all around the world, gone to Japan 3-5 times every year. Since he started training he never had a training break. He takes his budo training very seriously! If you want to sponsor a seminar or course, please don’t hesitate to contact him. For more information see his web site kesshi.com or come and train with him at Kaigozan Dojo.

Noguchi Sensei Surprised Us With Gikan Ryu

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

Noguchi Sensei Shares 40+ year old Gikan Ryu notes. photo by Michael Glenn

They love to crank up the heat in the Bujinkan Honbu. I find it too hot on most days. But today I had been doing photography out in the cold pouring rain, so I found myself ready to embrace the warmth of the dojo.

Noguchi Sensei greeted me when he arrived. He normally shares a few jokes with me, but today he seemed very focused.

Less than 20 students were waiting for him to bow in. He did so promptly as is his custom. Then he announced we were doing Gikan Ryu kata.

I was surprised. In more than 30 years I have not been shown these from any teacher. In between kata, Noguchi Sensei showed me a tattered notebook with the kata handwritten in a numbered sequence. He told me these were his actual notes from more than 40 years ago when Hatsumi Sensei taught these only to him.

if you are interested, I recorded a video of my experiences for 特訓 Tokkun members of Rojodojo: Bujinkan Kuden: Gikan Ryu with Noguchi Sensei

The class was quick and painful. This is koppojutsu after all. But Noguchi Sensei was precise and true to his notes with each initial demonstration of the kata. He even reread them and made corrections if he forgot something.

The heaters in the dojo were blowing strong. I was dripping sweat from the punishing attacks. But I did not care at all.

A feature of Gikan Ryu is lateral strikes. They hit the opponent in multiples. And the rhythm creates a new fist with each kyusho. Most of my body is marked or swollen right now reminding me of the targets.

There were taijutsu, daisho sabaki, and muto dori forms included in the text. And Noguchi Sensei even contributed some tessen henka.

After class, Sensei seemed very relaxed. I asked him what his plans were for that evening. He said he was going out drinking. He laughed and added that he did this on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays… etc.

I watched him pack up the blue 40 year old notebook and I waved goodnight. I toweled off the sweat because I had class with Soke in less than an hour.

Here’s What is Happening at Bujinkan 冬修業 Fuyu Shūgyō 2020

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

Leandro Erlich's "Port of Reflections" at 森美術館, photo by Michael Glenn
In my dojo, we set a theme for each season of training. In the upcoming seminar on January 19th we will explore this theme with a sincere and direct effort. The winter season hints at 平常心是道 heijō-shin kore dō, a calm heart is the way.

I encourage any teachers who want this extra dimension for their teaching to train with me when the season is right. If you have passed the Godan, you should be able to know the right season for these things. If you don’t yet have that skill, train with the right teacher!

The topics we cover come from my own training in Japan last month. You will be surprised by some rarely taught techniques. And we will take a cue from Wumen Huikai’s (1183-1260) expression of how to have a peaceful mind or a calm heart during every season:


“Hundreds of flowers in spring,
And in autumn, the moon.
A cool breeze in summer,
And in winter, the snow.
When useless things do not hang in one’s mind,
It is [always] a good season for [any] man.”

Don’t hang useless things in your mind! If you are a martial artist you must train. Don’t just think about it uselessly. For me, I don’t think about going to the dojo, I just go!

And you may have heard me say, "I never regret going to training. But I always regret the training I missed!" So we will be clear minded about this and train sincerely all year.

Here are a few dates for 2020 if you’d like to train with me during this season

冬修業 Fuyu Shūgyō Jan 19
春修業 Haru Shugyo April 19
夏修業 Natsu Shūgyō July 26
秋修業 Aki Shūgyō Oct 18

text me if you are ready to go: (424) 272-6307

Don’t let the trivialities of life get in the way. Push aside any delusions that cloud the mind. Cut through the invisible barrier with the sword of 平常心 heijō-shin!

Omnia Causa Flunt

From Shiro Kuma by kumafr


Omnia causa flunt, “Everything happens for a reason.”

I like this Latin expression. This is precisely the same in Budō. We don’t do movements to look good, but to stay alive. If being elegant was the goal, we would be dead. At war, the only goal is to stay alive, to carry out the mission. In life, awareness will do the same. If you want to live a successful life, you have to accept the law of causality. Because whether you want it or not, “Everything happens for a reason.”

During the warring period of feudal Japan, the Samurai might have followed the same rule. Marshal Bugeaud, a French officer from the 19th century, said, “at war there are principles, but they are few.” It is the same in Budō and in life.

Hereunder are six basic principles that each practitioner should train and apply. Let’s review them together. They are suitable for Budō and for life.

Don’t fight!

That is the best principle of all. Often, speaking and communicating will get you out of a bad situation. But it will not work every time, and you will not be able to avoid the attacks. Then accept it, stay relaxed and let your training do it for you. The same applies to Budō and in life.

Don’t get hit

Don’t dream! In a fight, you will get hit, and it will be painful. Abandon any romantic vision displayed by the movies. You are not an actor in Hollywood, this is the real world. Wake up! Focus on the situation you are facing, and limit as much as you can, the efficiency of your opponent. The same applies to Budō and in life.

Keep a proper and correct distance.

This is the first thing to do. If you are out of reach, UUke will not touch you. Now don’t overestimate your chances. When you have a gun in a holster and him a knife in his hand, you cannot draw fast enough if he is at less than 8 meters. So instead of trying, move away from his line of attack. It is always better to avoid direct confrontation. The same applies to Budō and in life.

Move out of the line of attack.

To do so, you have to react by the lines of cutting, punching or kicking. Against a sword, visualise the plane of cutting and stay out of it. Training your distance and understanding the angles will keep you safe. Move where your attacker will not be expecting you. Every attack generates dead corners preventing the opponent from getting you. Learn these. Usually it is by putting the attacking fist or weapon between you and Uke’s body. His body will serve as a shield. Look at how Sensei is always well positioned. Don’t be a target. The same applies to Budō and in life.

Expect the moves

Expect Uke’s moves, understand the loss of balance consecutive to his actions. When you move at the right moment, the attacker is unable to change his direction and to adjust his actions in time. If he does, it will be detrimental to his balance. He will crash faster. The momentum of his movements will make him fail. Your ability to expect what is coming next is the key to your success. The same applies to Budō and in life.

Send false signals

Begin one thing and do something else. A deception is a vital tool in your arsenal. The body reacts before the brain has time to analyse what is happening. Thus any move out of the logic forces Uke to change his attack, but this is useless. The momentum of the initial steps will forbid him to change his movements. The same applies to Budō and in life.

When you look at this list, you have, more or less, the exact definition of the Mutō Dori we learn these days in Japan. What Hatsumi Sensei teaches is not mechanical anymore. It is a holistic understanding of life and Budō. This allows us to get the intelligence of the moment. His Mutō Dori is not limited to Budō, it is something that you can use in your everyday actions. Every move we learn was not created by chance. The waza are there because they are useful. When it comes to applying these techniques, everything is always “undecided.” This is how Sensei’s movements look so natural.

The reason why he moves the way he does is that his body has ingrained all movements. He expresses them now without thinking. He is Mutōsei, uncontrolled (1), and because of that, he can control the attackers.

Omnia Causa Flunt, “Everything happens for a reason.”


1 無統制, Mutōsei. Uncontrolled

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