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武神館有段者の案内所
YUDANSHA – BUJINKAN BLACK BELT GUIDE

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English, Perfect-bound Paperback, 184 pages richly illustrated with pictures and illustrations. (32 483 Words, 145 533 Characters)

This book is a comprehensive guide to understand the Taijutsu of the Bujinkan system as taught by Masaaki Hatsumi Soke. We have this concept of Shu-Ha-Ri which is three major processes to learn Budo. First, we learn the fundamentals, then how to break them up. Then you transcend to a state where you are totally free without even thinking of what you are doing. Needless to say, you can’t get to the last stage without knowing the first stage well. It is said that you should study each level for at least 10 years. This book is all about the first stage we call Shu. It is further divided into three levels.

  • 天略の巻 TEN RYAKU NO MAKI (The scroll of Heaven)
  • 地略の巻 CHI RYAKU NO MAKI (The scroll of Earth)
  • 人略の巻 JIN RYAKU NO MAKI (The scroll of Man)

About the Author: Mats have been training Bujinkan Budo-taijutsu since the early 1980’s. He travelled all around the world to train and teach Bujinkan Budo-taijutsu. http://YudanshaBook.com

Print details: 8.26″ x 11.69″ (EU Standard A4), perfect binding, white interior paper (60# weight), black and white interior ink, white exterior paper (90# weight), full-color exterior ink.

Hatsumi Sensei’s Use of 指先 Yubisaki

Hatsumi Sensei Directs Sayaka Oguri, photo by Michael Glenn

During one class in Japan I was shivering. It was so cold my teeth were chattering. We were indoors, training on a chilled hardwood floor, so my indoor tabi were little comfort to my feet.

Maybe that is why when Hatsumi Sensei smashed his opponent’s head to the floor, my frozen mind didn’t understand the very important lesson he shared with us. After my brain thawed out, I could grasp the message. He was teaching us about 指先 yubisaki, the fingertips.

I first wrote about this in my personal training notes which you can get here: http://eepurl.com/d0w_r

At that moment, my own fingertips were encased in gloves. And probably tucked under my armpits for the body heat. I watched Hatsumi Sensei’s uke twist on the floor in pain, exhaling vapor in the cold after each gasp.

Soke did henka from the kata 天地 tenchi. Heaven and Earth. But which comes first?

You strike low to 鈴 suzu, and this lifts your opponent to heaven! Then strike high with 手五指 te goshi to 顔面 ganmen. But with this strike, you slam him back down to Earth.

In my own experience, the kick delivers the opponent’s face to your fingertips. Then most people deliver this next strike like a 蝦蛄拳 shako ken. That does work, but Hatsumi Sensei shared a different strategy with us.

Soke constantly tells us to use the fingers to control (yubi osae). But this seems impossible when you have a strong opponent. Can one finger, or even all five, do very much? If you have ever been Hatsumi Sensei’s uke, you know he doesn’t do too much.

It is a very subtle thing. Hatsumi Sensei said 指取りをこみ仮り yubi-tori o komi kari, which is like placing a temporary hold with the fingers as an incentive. He applies a light touch or pressure that he interrupts with percussive strikes.

Soke also used the words 操り ayatsuri and あや取り ayatori. This suggests that he manipulates you like a puppet to line up each strike in quick succession. When Hatsumi Sensei does this to me, I never see the strikes coming, so my body is unprepared to receive them or defend in any way.

Each strike becomes more powerful. They arrive in an uninterrupted flow that you cannot escape. This is because Hatsumi Sensei steers you with his fingers!

But this use of the fingertips doesn’t end with striking. While grappling, Soke used the word 量るhakaru. This is when you size up your opponent. You estimate his strength and ability, as well as his balance or weakness.

Soke does this with subtle shifts in his hands or elbows while grappling. The fingertips control but also act like antennae. These light touches may or may not get the opponent’s attention.

Hatsumi Sensei chooses when he wants you to notice what he is doing. This is another form of control. He directs your attention even with his fingertips.

Soke does this often against a sword or knife. It looks crazy watching him manipulate the blade with his fingers. I think this is more 量るhakaru.

Once you find the measure of your enemy, his weakness will reveal itself. The feeling I get from Hatsumi Sensei when I cut at him with a knife is that he allows you to fall victim to your own weakness. He doesn’t need to do very much.

Grow Up, Size Does Matter!

toomas animation
Did you ever walk with shoes too small for your feet? It is painful, even if they look good.
Well, I see a similarity with the weapons we use in the Dōjō. Many of the weapons we use are undersized. Tradition is beautiful, but sometimes it can be counterproductive. I will explain why in this post.
  • First, what we call the “Japanese martial arts” developed out of necessity. Between the Heian period (1185), and the forced peace at Sekigahara battle (1600), Japan was at war. (1)
  • Second, Japanese people were small. The founders of Gendai Budō (Jūdō, Aikidō, Karatedō) were all three, around 150cm in height! (2) We can surmise that was the case for the majority of the Japanese people.
  • Third, in the Kanejaku system of measures, the central size is the Ken (6 Shaku, app. 182 cm), and every building in Japan follows this system of length. (3) Shakkanhō is the name of this global system of measures. (4)
A Ken being six shaku that gives a size of 6 x 30.3 cm = 181.81 cm (or 5.9652 feet)
For the sake of our demonstration, we will keep the value of 1 ken = 180 cm.
size jp
If the average Japanese man of the past was 150 cm tall (5), the Europeans of today are around 172 to 181 cm. (6) We have to adjust the sizes of the weapons we use.
Keep in mind that a soldier will always have a weapon he can use to defend himself. And about the long arms, the longer, the better to keep the opponent out of reach. Musashi did the same when fighting Kojiro. He used an oar as a bokken to match the length of his opponent’s Nodachi. (7)
The Japanese Bō is 180 cm. That means the size of the weapon is 20% longer than the body size. (8)
So the size of our Bō should be between 200 cm and 220 cm!
That is pure math, but you should consider training with weapons for your size. Keeping the “traditional” format for the weapons just doesn’t make any sense.
I am 176 cm tall; my Bō should be 210 cm. I use a Bō of 2 meters, and I find it correct to train. My Hanbō is 105 cm, and my Jō is 140 cm.
To sum up, many of you train with a Bō too small for them. Your Hanbō looks like a cane for old people, and your Jō is about 20 cm too short.
  • A Bō is six shaku + 20%
  • A Jō is four shaku + 20%
  • A Hanbō is three shaku + 20%
 When in Japan, I spoke with Toomas, the founder of Soft Hanbō Ltd. He creates and sells the best Europeans padded weapons we can use in the Bujinkan. The last trip, he gave a set of padded weapons to Sensei, who was so pleased that he gave him one of his iaitō in return!
After speaking together, he might create longer training weapons suiting our body size. Check with him on his new website. (10)
Here is a chart you can use to find your perfect weapon size:
weapon chart
 Test different sizes to see which one works for you. The dimensions here have to be adapted to your height, length of limbs, torso, etc. Find the perfect match for you.
I added the size of the Tsuka in the chart above. The blade is essential but what is even more important is the size of your Tsuka. Because of the Yoroi, the size of your Tsuka should be the width of your torso. With a long Tsuka, you do not injure the inner side of your arms. You can also extend your arms better. The small Tsuka we have on the bokken or swords is coming from the Edo period where the Yoroi was no more in use.
So, grow the size of your weapon, because you know now that size does matter!
________________
2. Gendai budō (現代武道): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gendai_bud%C5%8D
5. They began to grow in height during the 20th century. My first trip to Japan was in 1990. I am 176 cm, and I remember that on the train I was taller than most of the locals. Not anymore, regular proteins input changed that.
6. Average European Height for males: https://blog.cliniccompare.co.uk/tallest-men-in-europe
8. 150 cm x 1.2 = 180 cm
9. Modern European size for a Bō: 172 cm x 1.2 = 206.4 cm to 181 cm x 1.2 = 217 cm!

Buyūkai 2: More Details By Phil

IMG_20180309_213249Some changes are happening these days in the Bujinkan. Here is some more useful information by Phil Legare from Japan.

It takes some time to change to take place. The following text explains a few points I didn’t cover in my last post.

My friend Phil published that today on Facebook. But the “life-span” of news on Facebook being very short, I decided to share it on the blog. This text completes my last entry and interests the whole Bujinkan community,

A few things that Phil writes:

  1. It’s not mandatory for all or any of the Dai-Shihan to collect a membership fee.
  2. It’s up to the individual Dai-Shihan if they choose to or not.
  3. It’s also not mandatory to send promotions through a Dai-Shihan. But it helps the Admin to handle the orders if the Dai-Shihan are compiling many requests for others.
  4. Sōke is not taking recommendations anymore for Dai-Shihan for people who are not here.
  5. You should visit Honbu if you wish to receive Dai-Shihan.
  6. If you cannot visit Japan in the next few years, and you feel you must have this, then write Sōke a letter in Japanese.
  7. Add in a Dai-Shihan’s name who is willing to endorse you. Sōke may agree to give you a Dai-Shihan.
  8. Someday all orders may have to go through the Dai-Shihan. Since we have a Shidōshi title and Menkyo (Y20,000) that comes with Godan, Shidōshi can still process the orders and promotions from Sōke.
  9. As I said, if the Dai-Shihan regroup the orders, it helps the Admin.

On my side I would remind you that:

  • There is no obligation to get a Dai Shihan diploma. It is not a rank, only a distinction.
  • In case you desire to get one, you are expected to donate (no amount is given) to the Honbu Dōjō.

 

Buyūkai, Buyukai, And Other Clarifications

IMG_20180311_162925This Sunday in Japan, was the first meeting of the Buyūkai. (1) That is a new change in the Bujinkan.Until this day, the Shidōshikai was regrouping the teachers of the Bujinkan. The Shidōshikai doesn’t exist anymore in Japan. The Buyūkai replaces it.

This Buyūkai meeting was a very happy moment. Sensei exposed the goal of this new organization. The Buyūkai is “to develop friendship and peace amongst the Bujinkan members. With the help of the hundreds of Dai Shihan present in 55 countries.” (2)(3). The significant change of 2018 is the generalization of the Dai Shihan title. Since the end of 2017 and to this day, Sensei is awarding lots of Dai Shihan diplomas. You are eligible for this new award if you have been in the Bujinkan for about twenty years and had a Jūgodan, Sensei wants the Dai Shihan group to work together and to take care of the Bujinkan.

To this effect, and since January 2018 the rules have changed. Sensei wants the Dai Shihan to deal with the Shidōshikai and regular memberships (the yellow card). Each Dai Shihan can establish his cards with the pricing he deems correct.

That means two things for the Bujinkan community.

  1. First, you now get your cards from your Dai Shihan. (Bujinkan membership card, Shidōshikai membership card).
    You have to choose a Dai Shihan. It doesn’t have to be the one living next door. He or she can be from another country. Your only obligation, like it was the case until now, is to get a valid membership each year.
  2. Second, concerning the ranks, nothing change. All grades are ordered in Japan at the Honbu Office like we have been doing it until now. The only modification is the cards.
    Some prices (Shidōshi Menkyō, Jūdan, and Jūgodan) have changed. (4)
    In the last weeks on social media, I have read many things that are not true. Remember that Facebook is not the Honbu.

I read that “any Dōjō can issue the ranks before Godan”: NO. That is not true!
All ranks from 9th Kyū to Jūgodan are issued in Japan by Sōke only. No change.

I read that “any Dōjō can issue their membership cards.” NO. That is not true!
Only the Dai Shihan can issue the cards. Shidōshi or Yūshū Shihan cannot establish the cards.

During the Buyūkai, Sensei awarded the “Buyūshō” to Phil Legare, for his long-term commitment, and friendship. Let me repeat what Sensei said: “the Buyūkai is to develop friendship amongst the Bujinkan members.”
As always with our Sōke, each word he uses (crafts?) has many meanings.
Buyū is the qualificative for bravery. (5)
Yūjō means friendship. (6)
Hatsumi Sensei has combined these two words “武勇” and “友情” to create “武友”; martial friends. He is brilliant!
The Buyūkai is the association of the “martial friends.” (7) That is why the objective is to promote friendship, love, peace, and justice about the Gojō (check my recent post on the subject). (8)

The Buyūshō given to Phil is an “award of martial friendship” for his many years in the Bujinkan. (9)(10)
There will be one Buyūkai meeting every 3 to 4 months.

This first Buyūkai was very informal, and we had a lot of fun. I understand that the Buyūkai is also Buyukai, a “club for happiness.” (11)(12)(13)

Be happy!
______________________________________
1. 武友会, Buyūkai: The association of the martial friends
2. For Koi members: You can listen to sensei’s speech on Koi at https://www.koimartialart.com/courses/enrolled/175400
3. Dai Shihan diploma: Furuta sensei told me last week that from now on, a “donation to the Honbu” from the new Dai Shihan would be greatly appreciated. The amount is the one you want.
4. You can contact me via email if you want the new forms, I will not put them online.
5. 武勇, Buyū: bravery; military prowess; valour; valour
6. 友情, Yūjō, friendship
7. 会, kai: meeting; assembly; party; association; club
8. In “Advanced stick fighting” (48), Hatsumi Sensei lists the Gojō as:
滅の不施, Fumetsu no Fuse, endless giving
真道の持戒, Mamichi no Jikai, awareness, right path of self-justice
自然の忍にく, Shizen no Ninniku, perseverance, forbearance
光明の悟り, Komyō no Satori, the light of enlightenment
自然の超越, Shizen no Choetsu, natural transcendence
9. 賞, Shō, Award: An award is something given to a person or a group of people to recognize their excellence in a particular field; a certificate of excellence.
10. 武友賞, Buyūshō: award of Martial friendship
11. 部, Bu: club
12. 愉快, Yukai: pleasant; delightful; enjoyable; joyful; cheerful; amusing; happy
13. 部愉快, Buyukai: the club of happiness.

PARIS TAIKAI 2018