Bujinkan Theme for Spring 2019

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

Bujinkan 提灯 Chouchin, Hatsumi and Takamatsu Sensei's 位牌. photo by Michael Glenn
The Bujinkan theme for our Spring training is set. Please study the idea 千変万化 Senpen Banka. This theme of innumerable changes is what Hatsumi Sensei gave us earlier this month.

When I returned from Japan, we held the annual 春修業 Haru Shūgyō  All of the students were focused and trained hard to grow from this season’s theme. Here is a bit of what we studied.

We warmed up with 初心五型 Shoshin Gokei. Hatsumi Sensei has had a multi-year focus on 無刀捕 mutōdori, so we next did 五行の型 Gogyō no kata as mutōdori! If you’ve never studied this, it will really surprise you.

Hatsumi Sensei gave us perspective on this kind of 三心 sanshin. In the Hagakure, a famous quote says,
武士道といふは死ぬことと見つけたり The way of Bushido is found in death.
But Hatsumi Sensei told us this idea is often misunderstood. He said that in the Bujinkan we study the way of living, and to protect life. Soke said,
“武士道は生死生よう Bushido wa seishi seiyō”
This is similar to 生死一如 seishi'ichinyo which means that life and death are the same. But Soke added the third idea of rebirth.  He said humans are born, then die and are reborn. This is Sanshin.

Every practice of mutōdori should be like this. Especially the Godan test! You must die under the blade to do proper mutōdori, but then you are reborn when you survive the attack.

We explored these ideas further with the kata 奏者 Sōsha and 引脇差 Hikiwkizashi. And we even did some basic 歩き方 arukikata and 足運び ashihakobi with the katana. This led to weapon retention henka.

All of this was to come at one idea from different angles. Because Soke told us,
“Wrap him up in the 空気 kūki. That’s everyone’s study from now on.” 
We took a small break to have tea and springtime mochi (ひとくちすあま和生菓子). There was lots of silliness and dojo humor which I cannot share here! But this seemed to energize everyone for more training.

The students went hard with the kata 虎倒 Kotō. Everyone really got the spirit of what Hatsumi Sensei called 気合わせ kiawase. This is a matching or meeting of the attacker’s energy.

I shared my experience of attacking Hatsumi Sensei in Japan. He used the principle of 意識出す ishiki dasu. You remove your own intention from doing any technique. This is when the students said it felt like I disappeared!

Yep, that is how it feels to attack Soke.

Please study with us or go to Japan to keep your training fresh and up to date. If you are part of our dojo, or connected to us through Rojodojo, I think spending time with these Bujinkan themes during your Spring and early summer training will make you a better Budoka!

RSVP: the 夏修業 Natsu Shūgyō will be July 28, 2019

Yawara (or koppo stick)

From paart budo buki by buki stolar

friends of Martal arts, 

it's strange, I make this tool for a long time, (first Yawara I was meke year 2000 for Ninpo Kai Pakrac.) and somehow I simply forgot to write about it on this blog. I'm not going to debate much about the name of this tool, in book about stick's  Hatsumi sensei names him Yawara, but people also call it a Koppo stick, I'll use Soke's name for it.

For start some basic training versions, normaly this could be use in selfdefence, but main purpose was for trainig. Since they do not have sharp edges, and they look simple, the possibility of unintentional injury is reduced to a minimum. 





People make this tool from various materials and different types of wood. If we talk about training models it's good, however, if we know how to use Yawara and what is purpose of this kind tool, that is not good!

Why?

Yawara is a small weapon we use for self-defense, to be effective, for Yawara it is essential to be invisible!
So if you have black or shine metal yawara's, black plastic or  yawaras from exotic wood which is darker than your hands skin, it is like you say "here is my weapon". In that case, you have taken the element of surprise to your weapon, and therefore the chance to defend yourself from the attacker is minimal.

This is reason why I make my Yawara's from beech wood, and leave them in natural color of beech wood, which is similar to the skin of the hands.

Below is picture where Dean Sensei use beech wood(SPECWOG) yawara, you could see how hard is notice Yawara in his hand.



Now few Yawar's that I make special for Dean Rostohar's SPECWOG combat sistem, is "SPECWOG" yawara. This version is special design for combat, it is create to causes maximum pain, as you see there is a lot sharp ends. 
Nine years of research was spent on this design, so I took care of the smallest detail, such as the thickness of the human skin (by the way, the dimensions of the grooves on the yawara were made according to information on human skin).
I also make them into four different sizes, so each person can choose yawara according to his size of palm. If you remember before I say that Yawara need to be hidden by the color but also by size, after all Yawara is  sneaky "toy". 



soon more info

Bujinkan 急所丸 Kyūsho Maru

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael Glenn

A Point in Ueno Sation. photo by Michael Glenn
I have had the fortune of training with Hatsumi Sensei outdoors on a number of occasions. Each time it was unique, but on this day Soke waved his hand toward the students and told us today would be a test for the Jugodans.

It was a cool morning under the Japanese maples, so Hatsumi Sensei wore  a quilted 羽織 haori which was the color of pearl. I don’t know if anyone else heard him, but he muttered the phrase “open sesame!” Because we were about to open a gate to hidden treasures.

One of those treasures arrived when Soke broke the attack of his opponent, causing his spine to arch back. Sensei hooked into his eyes with one finger. Then he dropped away to release the tension.

At this moment, he caught the fall of his uke with the position of his body. This had the effect of completely twisting the limbs and spine. And crushing like a trash compactor.

Hatsumi Sensei looked at all of us and said,
“全体駄目 zentai dame, or when everything is hopeless, there is that one point, 点眼 tengan, which is the kyūsho of taijutsu.”
I had never heard of tengan, but lucky for me, Soke explained by gesturing with his finger. Tengan is like when you use an eyedropper. It's like dropping a spot in the middle of an eye.

But tengan is a play on words. Change the kanji to 天眼, and it means the eyes of heaven, or divine eye. This is a Buddhist concept that suggests you can see in the darkness, or are clairvoyant. Harness perception that is almost supernatural.

The eye of heaven can see everything. The future, the past. It can see into your enemy’s mind. Now it is easy to predict his strategy or find his weakness.

Hatsumi Sensei drew a circle around that point in the air. He continued to explain,
“It’s not a point on the body. This is 急所丸 kyūsho maru. This is not something written in a scroll anywhere. This is for the jugodans. Please discover (発見 hakken) the kyūsho within the movement. You need to discover that for yourself.”
Since that day, I have been working to study kyūsho maru. It is an idea that ripples across all of my training like a drop in a pond. Here are a few of the ripples to consider.

The kanji for 急所丸 kyūsho maru can start us off. Kyūsho means a vital point, or an essential point. Maru means round, but like a true circle, it implies perfection. The kanji itself is 9 (九) plus one stroke.  As Hatsumi Sensei is fond of saying, this equals 10 which is perfect in Japanese numerology.

So kyūsho maru is the “perfect kyūsho” for the moment. This kyūsho might be on the opponent’s body. But it can be anywhere in the kukan. When you consider that possibility, the implications for your training grow from that point.

At a basic level, I find the weak point in the kukan and attack it. But as I wrote in Kukan no Kyūshō 空間の九勝: Twisting Around a Moment in Space, you might use that kyūsho to pivot. You move around it in a state of flux. There is no fixed coordinate, no set technique.

These kyūsho are in the space itself, the kukan. They are in the emptiness. When you can attack those points, the results will be bigger than your own ability or your own strength.

Kashiwa Plaza Hotel Selfie
Some Jugodans will understand this, and some will not. I wrote before that kihon is the heart of an infinite circle. Kihon is a point in the middle of a circle, or in the middle of infinity.

Later that afternoon, as the sun broke through the gray clouds, Hatsumi Sensei described capturing these points,
“Within the flow of the kukan (kukan no nagare), you want to control these very small points such as the fingers, the eyes, or the breath. You’re taking those points, but in a way that it is difficult for the opponent to perceive what’s happening in that flow. This is what we’re studying.”
What was the test for us Jugodans? There is no easy answer to that. I am still testing.

Hatsumi Sensei had us all face the sun and bow to wrap up the day of training. I felt the warmth on my face. But the sun is just a bright point in infinity, hanging in emptiness.