Art for your Happy New Year!

From Kasumi An Study Center  霞庵 スタディセンター by Kasumi An Study Center

This year`s training started at the honbu with Sensei unveiling his latest art acquisitions. As Sensei often remarks the greatest martial artists are inevitable great painters and proficient in many fields of art. In a recent conversation over lunch, Sensei generously invited my visiting sister and I to lunch, he spoke of how, when he was a young man, he studied with a famous film director in Tokyo and had dreams of becoming a director himself. As well, after the end of World War II, he played the steel guitar in a music band. They were so poor that they had to make their own instruments and play together.
I remember a time, Sensei was not satisfied with the pictures being taken by the photographers for one of his books and decided to take matters into his own hands. He brought in a ladder and a collection of his cameras. Someya San was up on the ladder with the camera and Sensei was giving him a hard time yelling things like, `next increase aperture and decrease shutter speed!` `rotate the camera as you shoot` `time your arms to my movement and move the camera as you shot`. And poor Someya San was having all sorts of trouble trying to keep up. Those photos eventually made it into one of his books. He says he uses all the arts as reference to deepen his study and practice of the martial arts.
Of course we all know that Sensei is a very prolific painter. I watch him on a weekly basis whip out up to 100 pieces of calligraphy in less then thirty minutes as presents for his visiting students. His teacher Takamatsu Sensei was also a brilliant painter. But did you know that Miyamoto Musashi, the swordsman famous for his use of the two swords, was also a great painter? My first introduction to Musashi`s work was thru my 90 year old ink painting teacher who is from the same town as Musashi. Musashi was famous for his Daruma, Hotei and bird paintings among other compositions. He seems to like to create tension with the birds by having them intent on a nearby insect. Either staring at the insect or perched with a patient air as the insect unknowing crawls closer. musashi
Sensei unveiled a copy of one such painting. Here you can see the bird patiently waiting on the branch above. At first glance, you may not notice the tiny caterpillar (which could be mistaken as a leaf or unrelated scribble) crawling his way up the branch. As explained, it is important to look at a scene and see or sense the subtleties or you may miss the whole essence of the situation. In life as well, if you can not sense these small things at a glance, you may end up putting yourself unknowingly in great danger or life threatening situations.
Further Sensei also unveiled at the first few trainings of the new year a great collection of `room dividers` with the beautiful calligraphy of Yamaoka Tesshu. Yamaoka Tesshu was a famous swordsman of Japan know as a Master of the Sword, Zen, and the Brush. He also founded the sword linage the School of No Sword. I truly enjoy spending time in appreciation of their art and often try to copy their works. It is my sincere hope that you too can use these great artists a reference for the deepening or your practice as well. 1937216_10207120131775658_6125079003358590059_n

Thank you Doug Wilson for this picture! You may also want to check out this book dedicated to the art of Miyamoto Musashi.musashibook

Art for your Happy New Year!

From Kasumi An Study Center  霞庵 スタディセンター by Kasumi An Study Center

This year`s training started at the honbu with Sensei unveiling his latest art acquisitions. As Sensei often remarks the greatest martial artists are inevitable great painters and proficient in many fields of art. In a recent conversation over lunch, Sensei generously invited my visiting sister and I to lunch, he spoke of how, when he was a young man, he studied with a famous film director in Tokyo and had dreams of becoming a director himself. As well, after the end of World War II, he played the steel guitar in a music band. They were so poor that they had to make their own instruments and play together.
I remember a time, Sensei was not satisfied with the pictures being taken by the photographers for one of his books and decided to take matters into his own hands. He brought in a ladder and a collection of his cameras. Someya San was up on the ladder with the camera and Sensei was giving him a hard time yelling things like, `next increase aperture and decrease shutter speed!` `rotate the camera as you shoot` `time your arms to my movement and move the camera as you shot`. And poor Someya San was having all sorts of trouble trying to keep up. Those photos eventually made it into one of his books. He says he uses all the arts as reference to deepen his study and practice of the martial arts.
Of course we all know that Sensei is a very prolific painter. I watch him on a weekly basis whip out up to 100 pieces of calligraphy in less then thirty minutes as presents for his visiting students. His teacher Takamatsu Sensei was also a brilliant painter. But did you know that Miyamoto Musashi, the swordsman famous for his use of the two swords, was also a great painter? My first introduction to Musashi`s work was thru my 90 year old ink painting teacher who is from the same town as Musashi. Musashi was famous for his Daruma, Hotei and bird painting among others. He seems to like to create tension with the birds by having them intent on a nearby insect. Either staring at the insect or perched with a patient air as the insect unknowing crawls closer. musashi
Sensei unveiled a copy of one such painting. Here you can see the bird patiently waiting on the branch above. At first glance, you may not notice the tiny caterpillar (which could be mistaken as a leaf or unrelated scribble) crawling his way up the branch. As explained, it is important to look at a scene and see or sense the subtleties or you may miss the whole essence of the situation. In life as well, if you can not sense these small things at a glance, you may end up putting yourself unknowingly in great danger or life threatening situations.
Further Sensei also unveiled the first few trainings of the new year a great collection of `room dividers` with the beautiful calligraphy of Yamaoka Tesshu. Yamaoka was a famous swordsman of Japan know as a Master of the Sword, Zen, and the Brush. He also founded the sword linage the School of No Sword. I love spending time in appreciation of their work and often try to copy their works. It is my sincere hope that you too can use these great artists a reference for the deepening or your practice as well. 1937216_10207120131775658_6125079003358590059_n

Thank you Doug Wilson for this picture!  You may also want to check out this book dedicated to the art of Miyamoto Musashi.musashibook

After You’ve Taught Everything, You are Left With 意識 Ishiki

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael Glenn

Hatsumi Sensei TV interview last month. Photo by Michael Glenn
Right now in the Bujinkan, we are starting from zero. Hatsumi Sensei  says he has taught us everything. What will come next will emerge out of zero.

Sometimes there is this weird incongruity when training with Soke. He tosses me around the Bujinkan honbu effortlessly and I am almost 40 years younger than he is. His mind and wit are quicker than most people I know. But the fact is, he is an old man. He himself remarked that “I'm kind of stupid so I didn't realize I was getting older.”

Last month when I was in one of Hatsumi Sensei’s classes, my friend Silvio Herasme asked Soke how does he feel right now?  Hatsumi Sensei said that right now he feels very satisfied or content.

He continued to say that he felt happy that Takamatsu taught him and he could experience this life of budo. He was content to be surrounded by many friends who have been studying for 20-30 years or more. Then he mentioned how dangerous it is to be Soke.

One of these dangers is the onset of age. when we are young, we just train and don’t really think about what is next. Soke has grown old and IS thinking about what comes next. And even though Soke can knock me over easily and put me in great pain, he recognizes his age. He said,
“of course my physical body is deteriorating and getting weaker, but my spirit is unbalanced with the flesh.” 
Hatsumi Sensei says his memories of the years of training with Takamatsu are like images in a dream. When he looks at old photos and the 8mm film of himself with Takamatsu Sensei, he recognizes how bad he was.

Hatsumi Sensei described these days of training,
“Takamatsu Sensei wasn't very specific or hung up on form. He probably saw that I was just so bad at form and I couldn't do anything so he didn't care about the form. Maybe so I wouldn't feel bad.” 
Can you imagine being a young man like Soke was then? Just training hard and fumbling through what his teacher was trying to share. Then suddenly, Soke said,
“About a year before he died he said I'll pass everything onto you. I was kind of disappointed when he did that to be honest.”
This must have been a strange time. One day you are just a clumsy student, the next… you are in charge of the entire legacy. Today Hatsumi Sensei reflects on this time with humility when he describes his younger self,
“They say if you flatter a pig he'll jump up a tree, but then he'll fall out again. That's like me. I'm sort of like that.”
We all burst with laughter. The whole dojo was amused by this country adage. But this great humility was coming from our Soke!

During my whole trip last month Hatsumi Sensei was very reflective on the past 42 years. He said it has taken him 42 years to internalize what Takamatsu Sensei taught him. During those years, he said he has taught us everything that was taught to him.

There’s nothing left to show. No more to teach. We are at zero again.

This brings us to an odd kind of reassurance from Soke. He says that within zero there’s 意識 ishiki. This awareness or consciousness will guide us forward. He speculated that maybe this comes from kami.

Moving forward in the Bujinkan, we are going to continue with this zero feeling. The important thing will be how to internalize that. If you do it with clarity, then what comes next will be born from that.