On Enthalpy by H. Weill

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

Young sensei and young arnaud at the Italian Taikai

Dear Arnaud sensei,

Thank you for sharing your thought with us. The idea of enthalpy is interesting, as a chemist myself I appreciate your vision.
I would like to suggest also my opinion.
Hatsumi Sensei speaks firstly on the idea of high sensitivity that is mentioned in the words “all of the Uke’s actions are immediately felt once they are expressed.Then it is easy to defeat the attacker as long as we are “zero””.

The concept may come from the idea that it is by far simpler to recognise a small signal when the level of the noise around it is near. It is a physical concept for signal identification that is called signal to noise ration (SNR) (1). In practice, this is the reason one can hear the weakest whisper in the silence of the night. Or why fluorescence spectroscopy (that looks for a light signal in the dark) (2) is orders of magnitude more sensitive than UV-vis spectroscopy (the looks for the reduction of an intensity of light source) (3).

To my opinion, at least in part of Hatsumi Sensei words, he talks about creating a subdimension of spacetime (4), a silent mini-universe in which one traps his opponent separately from the noisy universe we exist in. Thus enabling him to feel Uke’s actions immediately even when the sensory signatures that he makes are infinitesimally small (5). Somewhat similar to the way a spider while being totally motionless feels the action of its prey that was caught in its web.
Also, I feel that Soke speaks about controlling the reality that Uke perceives.

One should remember that what we call “reality” is a processed reconstruction of spacetime that is built upon the information collected by our sensory system (6). In other words perception (7) and what we learn with time. To do something (e.g. strike with our fist) we calculate the needed force and the length of time of its application to create the correct trajectory in spacetime. During the performance of the action, our brain receives feedback information from the sensory systems and tries to calculate any needed corrections at that given period of time.
Here we go back to the term of SNR. The sensory system is eventually a collection of sensors that each one has its one unique SNR – the ability to determine statistically if a reading received is a meaningful signal or just an unimportant noise (1).

To my opinion Soke teaches us to make our signal to be as close as possible to zero to the visual and somatosensory systems (6) of Uke – this idea is manifested through the concepts of Ku and Kozushi. The first deals, mainly, with Uke’s visual system and the latter with the somatosensory system (touch and proprioception). When one masters the two concepts, he is able to avoid the Uke’s sensory systems thus creating a new reality for him, an illusionary one. An illusion that the caster disappears altogether or appears where he is not. Thus disabling Uke from calculating the correct trajectories needed for his actions. With that, we can go back to Sokes words: “all of the Uke’s actions are immediately felt once they are expressed.Then it is easy to defeat the attacker as long as we are “zero””.

This is in my opinion what stands for the kanji of Bujinkan – the term Bu Kami – the warrior god/god of war, a god that creates a new universe at will in the context of the art of war.

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal-to-noise_ratio
(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fluorescence_spectroscopy
(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultraviolet%E2%80%93visible_spectroscopy
(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacetime
(5) http://www.dictionary.com/browse/infinitesimally
(6) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sensory_system
(7) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception

Tama, The Sphere Of Zero

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

img_20161201_120325Gyokko Ryû is an excellent school, profoundly related to the new theme for 2017 of “controlling the space”.

Let me explain. In Sensei’s last class, he spoke about Tama, the Sphere. Tama is also read Gyoku, and Gyoku is the “pearl” find in the name Gyokko. (1)

We read on the Internet that Gyokko is the “jewel tiger”. This is incorrect, Gyokko is the “tiger Pearl” or the “Tiger sphere”.

When we say “zero” we see a circle. But what if “Zero” is not a flat circle, Maru (2), but in fact symbolises the sphere of the controlled space that Sensei is speaking about?

We leave the world of the second dimension of Nijigen no Sekai for the Sanjigen no Sekai, and the sphere of controlled space is created. (3)

My feeling is that this is what Sensei wants is to understand. We are at the centre of this sphere, this is why “zero” he keeps saying that “zero” is not empty.

But as it is often the case in Japanese, there’s more.

Zero is also Mu (4), and Mu is nothingness. Nothingness is the secret to playing in the controlled space. In this space, everything is possible because we are not emitting anything. We are Mushin, free from obstructive thoughts. (5). We do not try to win, we play with the attacker’s intentions. This is Asobi, being playful. (6)

While walking in Kashiwa yesterday, the sign “OIOI” caught my eyes. “OIOI” is a Japanese department store on the platform next to the station. It is pronounced “Marui, marui”, spherical. (7)

Was it a sign from the gods?

1. 玉/tama/ball; sphere; globe; orb|bead (of sweat, dew, etc.); drop; droplet|ball (in sports)|pile (of noodles, etc.)|bullet|bulb (i.e. a light bulb)|lens (of glasses, etc.)|bead (of an abacus)|ball (i.e. a testicle)|gem; jewel (esp. spherical; sometimes used figuratively); pearl
2. 〇/maru/circle (sometimes used for zero)|’correct’ (when marking)
3. 二次元/nijigen/two dimensions vs 三次元/sanjigen/three dimensions; three-dimensional; 3D; 3-D|(joc) real world; IRL (in real life) +
世界/Sekai/the world; society; the universe|sphere; circle; world|renowned; world-famous; well-known outside of Japan|realm governed by one Buddha; space
4. 無/mu/nothing; naught; nought; nil; zero|un-; non-
5. 無心/mushin/innocence|free from obstructive thoughts
6. 遊び/asobi/playing|play (margin between on and off, gap before pressing button or lever has an effect)
7. 円い/marui/round; circular; spherical|harmonious; calm


Zero Style Budō

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

A bear carving of 1947

The last class with Hatsumi Sensei was so intense that I dreamt of it all night long. In my dreams, what he showed and taught made more sense, I will do my best to explain now what I got out of it.

To control the space with mutō dori, you have to be zero.
To be zero, you have to be one.
To be one, you have to be complete.
To be complete, you have to be sanshin (3).
To be sanshin, you have to know your basics.
To know your basics, you have to enter the dōjō.

When we begin our training, we are formless. We have expectations and no knowledge. The teacher shows the basics, and with practice, we are starting to move in the appropriate form. Then we have to acquire the basics of the Tenchijin.
When we begin to understand the simple complexity of the Tenchijin we are three. This is the sanshin of the Ten, the Chi, and the Jin. There is no unity yet in our movements, and our taijutsu looks like robotic movements. With time, the differentiation of the three parts of the Tenchijin vanishes, and we start having a more unified way of moving.
When this process is complete, we can enter the world if the Ryûha and to study the weapons. After some time, we mix the Waza, the Buki, the basics, and a nice body flow emerges. We are complete.
But the hard work doesn’t stop here, as it is only the beginning. Give it a little more time, and you become “one”. Only when this state of “being one” is achieved, that you can start the long path of becoming “zero”.

It is a long process because you have to get rid of everything you have learned to be “zero”. Sensei said that “there are no techniques”. What I understood is that at this level, techniques are useless, you have to forget them. And you can do that only because you spent at least twenty years learning them (1). Again, you can only forget something you have learned.

Gradually, you can become zero and ride on uke’s intentions. Because you have no expectations, because you do not try to win, you are in control of the space. Uke’s attacks originate from the same point in space that you can now clearly see. Controlling this point defeats uke. Sensei said that whether attacks using taijutsu or weapons, there is a common point, and it is always the same. As you fill the space of battle, you can see this point. Control it, and things are easy. Sensei insisted twice on the importance of Kokyû, respiration. (2) He said that if you are out of breath at the end of the exchange, it is because you are still trying to do something. But you don’t have it.

When you are finally capable to ride uke’s attacks, to dodge them, and still be relaxed, it is the proof that you are zero.

Once again here is the path to follow:
Learn and study the basics,
Learn and study the Tenchijin,
Become three.
Learn and study the Ryûha and the weapons,
Become One.
Unlearn and forget everything,
Be Zero and control the space.

“Zero is not empty. There’s a point in the middle”, Hatsumi sensei, July 2016.

1. I write “twenty years” here, but it might be thirty. In just beginning to grab it after more than thirty years in the Bujinkan. But I guess some are more gifted than me. On the other hand, if you have been training less than twenty years, and have achieved a high rank in the Bujinkan, I am confident that this will require some more years of training. Rank doesn’t mean competence.
2. 呼吸/Kokyû /breath; respiration|knack; trick; secret (of doing something)

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Ukeire: The Tao Of Bujinkan

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

The last class was about “zero style”. To be zero, you have to be one, body and mind. Sensei’s movements are so simple that it is impossible to repeat them. Sensei was magic and full of energy, and we saw how far we are all of his level of understanding.

After class, I went for dinner with Philippe, the Mitrou brothers, and a few students. We all felt drained as if emptied of our energy (maybe he sucked it out from all of us). The dinner didn’t last long; we went to bed rapidly.

Once again, this magic of Sensei reminded of the Taoteking: “Accept, and you become whole, once whole, the world is as your home.” (§22 Taoteking)

Sensei wants us to be “zero”, but zero is not nothing. Last July he said that “at the centre of zero, there’s one”. To achieve this zero state, we first, must become “one”. And for me, this “one” is the same as this “whole” depicted in the Tao. The “wholeness” is the result of acceptance and receiving. In Japanese, it can be translated by “Ukeire”. (1) Ukeire also has the meaning of receiving as in Uke Nagashi. (2)

It means that when you accept (receive) the attack of your opponent, you trap him in the space you control, and you can play with him. There were a few references to “Asobi”, playfulness, during the last classes. (3) This control of space is similar to a spider web. Tori is the spider, and Uke, the fly. He has no chance to win once wholeness is achieved.

Each time I attack Sensei with the intention of getting him, I don’t succeed. In fact, the harder I try, and the faster he traps me. Sensei is like a spider waiting for a bug to glue into his spider web. It is quiet and efficient. Uke is unable to think properly, and to surpass his defences.

At some point, Sensei referred (again) to the bug held in the space of your hands and being unable to bite: Amo isshun no tamamushi. (4) As a bug, you cannot decide what to do. It is scary. You see your defeat the moment you launch the attack. There’s nothing you can do to avoid it. Sensei repeated a few times “Tatakai Janai”, don’t fight. (5) In fact, there is no fight per se. As you are the only one trying to fight, you end up fighting yourself.

Being the receiver, he doesn’t need to hurry, as the Uke, I am delivering myself to him. Whatever the type of attack, he waits for it, receives it, and weaves his actions on the many elements I’m giving. He has no intention of winning; he simply doesn’t lose. He controls the space; there is no fight. Being united as a whole, he receives and accepts my attack, and “the world is as his home”, I’m just a bug for him to play.

The ancients said, “Accept, and you become whole”, Once whole, the world is as your home. (§22 Taoteking)

This is Ukeire, the Tao of the Bujinkan.


1. 受け入れ/ukeire/receiving; acceptance
2. 受け流す/ukenagasu/to ward off; to elude; to turn aside (a joke)
3. 遊び/asobi/playing|play (margin between on and off, gap before pressing button or lever has an effect)
4. Amo isshun no tamamushi
中一瞬 の 吉丁虫
中 amo: centre, inside, during
一瞬 isshun: one moment
吉丁虫 tamamushi: jewel beetle
5. 戦い/tatakai/battle; fight; struggle; conflict

Kaitatsu Gairyoku: Indirect Transmission

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

img_20161127_130403Hatsumi sensei said in class that “you cannot be good doing Bujinkan, if you’re good, you are not doing Bujinkan”. It reminded me of Salvador Dali’s quote: “Don’t be afraid of perfection, you’ll never reach it”. This quote could summarise what we are training these days. Don’t try to be perfect.
The essence of controlling the space is not to do a perfect movement. We move in a way that is a simple answer to Uke’s intentions; that is all. It doesn’t have to be pretty; it has to be “good enough”. Too many practitioners try perfection, by doing so, they meet defeat as they cannot adjust their moves to the ever-changing situation.
The idea is to derive power from indirect and forceless movements. What you do, the way you react makes it impossible for Uke to guess what is coming next, and therefore it keeps you alive. Sensei called this concept “Kaitatsu Gairyoku”, indirect strength or indirect transmission. (1) (2) (3)
Indirect strength is using no force at all. And when you use no power, Chikara or Ryaku (4), Uke cannot use it against you as leverage.
“A perfect technique gets you killed”, added Sensei, “because when you try to do a technique you are trapped mentally”. You can be lucky once, maybe twice, but in a real fight, it is about staying alive. The Tao Te King means that when it says “don’t do anything, and nothing will be left undone”. (6) The water flowing downstream doesn’t think the many rocks it encounters, nor does the water try to avoid them. The water is not trying to do anything; it flows naturally and reaches the sea. It is as simple as that.
And as Kary Mullis Nobel Prize 1993, said about DNA duplication, “it is very complicated to make (things) simple.” (7)
When you watch Hatsumi sensei doing Kaitatsu Gairyoku, it seems very simple, but it is extremely complicated to do.
If you don’t come to Japan regularly, you will never get the actual depth of the Bujinkan martial arts.
You can fly to Tokyo with a “direct” or an “indirect” flight to receive your transmission…
1. 回り/kai/mawari/circumference; perimeter; edge|surroundings; locality; neighborhood|rotation; circulation +
経つ/tatsu/to pass; to lapse
2. 回経/kaitatsu/indirect
3. 外力/gairyoku/external force/transmission
4. 力/chikara/force; strength; might; vigour (vigor);
energy|capability; ability; proficiency; capacity; faculty|efficacy; effect|effort; endeavours (endeavors); exertions|power; authority; influence; good offices; agency|support; help; aid; assistance|stress; emphasis|means; resources.
5. 力じゃない /chikara janai/there is no strength
6. Taoteking or Tao Te Ching: modern translation by François Jullien §37, 48 in “le traité de l’efficacité”, (French edition).
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