Photon & Stardust: the Spirit of Movement

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

the essence of movement

Once again I would like to review  a metaphore used by sensei not long ago. He spoke about “photon & stardust” to me, it is the best way to explain how things should happen in the dôjô.

From our perspective, a photon is invisible. Stardust in space is also invisiable to us. A photon is moving at the speed of light in space and stardust is moving also at a permanent speed. Now until they meet there is o way for you to see them. When they collide a spark of light is created. This spark is the movement/technique. Both the photon and the stardust become visible when the spark of light appears. Before the collision they “are non existent” (to our senses), after they are not existent any more. When you fight your opponent what happens is identical.

In  ”l‘esprit du geste“* this is what I tried to explain. There is no thinking process, no intention, only a spark of light. In a fight, there is no technique there is only an opportunity of possibility. It is only a probability of occurrence. Adapt!

Chi does not think

Sui does not think

Ka does not think

does not think

does not think

So why do you think? the sixth element shiki (consciousness) appears, it is not the product of the analytical brain. It is given as everything in Nature, natural movement is only that.

*the book is now translated into English and  soon available.

Tachi Tips & tricks (6)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

No harm

Yesterday during my seminar, one student was waving his sword held to his wrist by the rope at the tsuka kashira and the ring at the end broke releasing the sword.

Training weapons are NOT real ones and might break easily. Do not get over excited while training and keep high security levels. There was no harm but an accident could have happened.

We are now training with metallic blades instead of padded ones. Therefore our ways of training should adapt accordingly. Permanent adaptation is not to be applied only during the techniques but should include all the elements of the class in the dôjô. Adaptation is what tachi kumiuchi is teaching us. Stop thinking always in the same ways. Last month sensei said: “don’t hold to what you know or you won’t improve your skills”. The key point is to adapt.

A weapon designed for training purpose is still a weapon. Please be careful. You can influence the actions of a sentient being during the fight but there is no possibility to affect an in-animated object.

Be aware of this.


Tachi Tips & Trick (5)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

various types of blades some being both...

When you get older your students get older too and you can learn from them!

Yesterday on tachi kumiuchi seminar at the Bujinkan France in Vincennes I learnt two things. One of my old students followed a few seminars to become a blacksmith.

I was teaching the particular way of waving the blade horizontally and was telling the students that the point of pivot is done around the first third of the blade. He told us that the sôri (curve) of the blade is not the same in a tachi and on a katana. The katana is balanced more or less at the middle of the blade but the tachi is often balanced at a point closer to the tsuba. The apex of the curve being closer to the hands it is logical (ans easier) to turn the blade from this point adding more momentum and speed to the blow. Remember that you do not cut with the blade but only try to get uke‘s balance. Also the burden of the yoroi makes it also easier to move the blade that way.

Rotate your blade  on itself and do not pivot from the kissaki (tip of the blade). A tachi is not a katana therefore your movements have to be different.

Also, you can find the same blade displayed with the katana mouting and the tachi mounting which confirms what I was writing in a previous post.


Did sensei meet Shakespeare?

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

William Shakespeare

Here is a speech taken from Shakespeare’s play “Henry V”. It carries some values that rings a bell to what Hatsumi sensei explained a few weeks ago (cf. post on chivalry below). Reading this text I wonder if sensei didn’t meet Shakespeare when we did the ’96 Taikai in UK in Stratford Upon Aven, Shakespeare hometown…

This is a text I really like and I thought you might be happy to read it. Enjoy!

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires.
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more methinks would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made,
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse;
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is call’d the feast of Crispian.
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispian’s day.’
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition;
    And gentlemen in England now-a-bed
    Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.


Tachi tips & tricks (4)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

tachi of different sizes but with the mounting

We have been training quite a lot with the tachi in the past weeks. When in Japan I was quite surprised to see that the blades used by sensei and the shihan were not that long after all.

I have a few tachi (long and normal) and I found that the qualificative of tachi only applies to the mounting (edge up / edge down) as it gives or close new angles in the drawing process.

For example the hontai nuki gata is given when using a tachi as the edge is aready down. Then the size of the blade doesn’t matter that much. In fact with a long blade the movement is as difficult as when using a regular size blade.

In tate nuki gata, the blade is used not vertically but a shield (tate) this can be done with both ways of wearing the sword but proves to be easier when having a koshiate (holster) hanging down from the belt as it gives more space to turn around the blade even if it stays totally or partly into the saya.

In my opinion the terminology defining the tachi as a long blade was added after the war period not when they were using the tachi but after during the peace time period.

One day I asked sensei about the size for a tachi: “Arnaud, size doesn’t matter as long as you can use your sword freely”.