Distance and Time, Ma-Ai

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


The study of distance and time is essential in the martial arts. In Japan, there is a word “ma-ai” which could be said to be the study, application, or the use of distance and time. With distance and time all problems can be solved!

The once gleaming palaces for kings and queens now lay in rubble where only foxes play and birds sing in the trees that grow in the ruins.  The Kings and queens, for all their court affairs, have vanished. Evaporated into the air with distance and time. If you can correctly understand distance and time, your life can become easy and joyous like the foxes and birds.Screenshot_2020-06-16 All sizes Happy foxes playing Flickr - Photo Sharing

My teacher often called his art the martial arts of distance and time.  Ma Ai. It is written with the characters, space/gap 間, and the character 会, meaning to come together or meet. It conveys the space between two objects, and the timing involved in an interaction or aligning of the two.

The distance between two objects or opponents, although often quantified with measurements, can also be vague and elusive.

One meter can be made to appear farther than it is and conversely can also be made to appear closer than reality.   Movement can also appear to be very fast when, in fact, you are moving very slowly and, at the same time,  can appear to be slow when you are moving quickly.

Just as the passage of time can feel different depending upon the situation, time flies when you’re having fun.Time can also drag when things aren’t so happy. As a child, one hour of math class seemed an eternity.  But the hour for play seemed over before it started.

Now as a father every day passes in the blink of an eye and I wish it would slow down like those lazy childhood days.  Some people report a sensation of the slowing of time when in dangerous situations or accidents, as if they were in slow motion. (myself included)

Distance starts with knowing where you are in space. Take the surface of a ball, like a basketball, and use it to represent the universe.  Forgetting for a moment the mathematical inadequacies of the example, wherever you place your finger on the ball, can be the center of the surface of the ball. Understanding that every point can and will be the center of the universe is an interesting to place to start! With an appreciation that all objects have a gravitational pull, the space between two objects becomes full indeed. Space no longer seems empty but becomes an almost tangible and malleable substance. This manipulation of timing and space or, in Japanese jiki and kukan, can be considered an aspect of Ma Ai.  With an understanding of these aspects, the feeling of Ma Ai will start to thrive in you.

My teacher loved to play with words and puns. He often interchanged the Chinese characters to create more subtle nuances for greater understanding and contemplation.  Many years ago, he changed Ma to devil and Ai to love which could be translated, among other ways, as love of the devil. But it has nothing to do with good or evil but an appreciation of the dedicated effort one must make to see the Ma Ai and the bravery needed to enter and manipulate it.

Perhaps if you love your demons enough, their horns will drop off and they can become angels!

Secret Transmission,Togakure Ryu Ninpo!

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

To thank you all for your generosity during this pandemic.  To show my great appreciation, I will try to translate bits of this book by Hatsumi Sensei that stand out to me.   This is one of my favorite books by Hatsumi Sensei and continues to shine bright even after 40 years or so.  Wisdom has a timeless beauty and this book is packed with gems.

This is the very first passage in the book and sets the theme and tone of the book.  Therefore I have decided to start at the beginning.  If this brightens your day or gives you some new inspiration in your training and study, it will most certainly brighten my heart as well!  Feel free to join our chats as well.  Now, lets jump in!

Poster 1

Philosophy of the Martial Way, Philosophy of the Way of Nin

This chapter forms the basis and main theme of this book. Therefore I would be delighted if you read it several times to capture the essence of it.

The Philosophy of Budo, the martial way.

In a grander view, the martial arts are used for the protection of ones` country. In a smaller view, they are used for the protection of the people and for the protection of oneself.

It could be said that striking with a sword using technique and artistry is martial arts. If you were to say that simply striking relying on brute strength in the arms and body is martial arts, then one could foolishly assert that chopping wood is a marital art!

The art of the sword is the study of the proper place, timing, truth of the, way to strike. Just as knowing the manner of wood or way in which a log can be split would be considered true wood chopping.

Using technique is an art. And the basis of art is in the heart. If the heart is not correct, there can be no progress. If the heart is not developed, there can be no understanding (of a proper way, greater truth). This understanding (of a proper way, greater truth) is similar to art. If actions are not proper (aligned with a greater truth and understanding), there can be no art.

True victory lies not with oneself but with the opponent. The opponent will naturally offer us the key to victory. Do not seek victory yourself but allow it come naturally to you. For it will come to you as surely as a spark is born when metal strikes flint.

It matters little if you are an Eighth degree black belt or a Master, it proves nothing. You must only taste deeply the essence of the most beautiful, subtle, and mysterious technique; If you think it exits, it does not. If you believe it is not, it is.

When the energy of the heart and the sword become one, this is the origin of the martial way.


I hope you enjoyed this! Thank you for all your support! and if you would like to make a contribution for the continuation of this work, please click the link below.


The autumn moon

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

By Tomoe Gozen

Take a look out the window tonight(October 4th) and you will see the Chushu no Meigetsu. The Japanese have an ancient tradition of gazing at this moon on this particular date. They like to eat snacks, sing songs and quietly contemplate.

According to the lunar calendar, Chushu, 中秋 which means in the middle of autumn, was the 15th of August. They also call this moon Juugoya, 十五夜、 the night of the fifteenth. It used to always be a full moon but since the Japanese no longer use the lunar calendar, sometimes it is not completely full. But if you have not taken some time to look at the moon recently, dont miss this opportunity to slow down and enjoy some nature beauty and moon rays. You will be glad you did!

Nikko(日光) Trip :Things not to miss in Japan

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

BY Tomoe Gozen

I really liked visiting Nikko Toshogu(日光東照宮). It has so many decorations of animals like monkeys, elephant, cats, horses, Kirin, Dragons…and so on!

Sleeping Cat

Three wise Mokeys

Dragon on the ceiling

Now I see how these places have perhaps influenced the way Hatsumi Sensei decorates the Bujinkan Honbu dojo and even how my husband, Paul, decorates the Kasumian Study Center.

They both really like using animals in the Dojo and offices. I honestly thought that Paul was putting too many animal statues and things at our study center. But I found out that each animal has a symbolic meaning or important mythological role.

I truly enjoyed listening to the stories about each animal. I grew up in Shiga/Kyoto or Koga region, famous for Ninja. You can find many Ninja related spots in my hometown. The temples in this area and Kyoto seem more simple and less decorated than Nikko Toshogun.

“Wabi Sabi” is the word for a more simple and austere Japanese aesthetic. And it is this Wabi Sabi that I am more accustomed to in the Kyoto, or Koga area.

This was my first trip to Nikko and it was very interesting to see the differences between Kyoto’s temples and Nikko which is 17th century’s architecture.

Thank you to Stephan from Germany and Ricky from the USA for joining me on this lovely day trip. If you have not visited Nikko, I highly recommend it. It is an easy day trip from Noda city and it’s beautiful temples and inspiring forest paths with towering sacred trees will certainly refresh you and nourish your spirit! I will definitely visit again.

Otakaraya Antique store in Yokohama

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

Otakaraya Antique store in Yokohama posted by Tomoe

Paul and I like to look around antique stores to find  good  old Japanese stuff. It is a truely joy to decorate our Kasumi An Study Center with old Japanese antiques. We have a few favorite antique stores, but we think this place is the best.

They sell western cups and arts on 1st floor. But upstairs they sell really ancient swords, scrolls, and other antiques. Every time we go there, we talk with the guy at shop(I forgot his name).  He gives very useful information about the swords and other antiques. We like this shop not only because their selection is so good, but also because he is such a nice guy.  His knowledge is deep and wide .He has more than 300 katana in his personal collection and he told us he must clean a few swords every day one by one just for maintenance!  Chatting with him is so much fun. Unfortunately he does not speak much English, if you can understand a little bit of Japanese, you will enjoy this shop very much!



Here is the photos from this store.