Waza Or Kankaku?

From Shiro Kuma by kumafr


Next weekend I have a sword seminar on Kukishin Biken Jutsu, and Togakure Happō Biken in Lugo (Spain). For the first time ever, I will teach them together, to see the differences and the similarities. If you join us, you will discover the value of our Bujinkan heritage.
Since the sword seminar in Finland, I have put a lot of thoughts into the value of “form” versus “free flow.”
This an important question, the form or the feel? Waza or Kankaku? (1) (2)
Searching the internet, I found out that musicians have the same issue. Here what I found.
“So here is the core of the matter: Playing with feel is not the opposite of playing with good technique, but is rather the outgrowth of having developed your technique to the point that it is no longer a barrier between you and self-expression.” (3)
This is the same idea in Budō. About ten years ago, a Japanese Dai Shihan gave a good explanation during class. He said “to walk you need two legs. In Budō, those legs are ‘waza and kankaku’. One leg is not enough to walk, you have to use both.” Our Budō teaches us how to walk like a human being. This is why Sensei insists on the importance of footwork.
Hatsumi Sensei spoke last year about Aidamaari. He said, “Aidamaari is the space between things.” (4) This space appears through the interaction of Waza and Kankaku. They are not opposed, they are complementary. When you can use Waza and Kankaku together, you develop natural movement.
Some Bujinkan teachers often privilege one leg or the other, and it is not right. Both legs are important as the secret of Mutō Dori lies in the mix of the two. 
Next weekend in Lugo, we will cover the two aspects of the two Ryū. (5)
We will first study the forms of the Kukishin Ryū on Saturday, and of the Togakure Ryū on Sunday. Then, develop the kankaku of each system. But without a good understanding of the technique, the feeling is only a loss of time. Train hard on your basics, it is the root of feeling.
I want to finish, with another quote from the text on music. “So … if you have been thinking that “feel is more important than technique”, try doing some spirited sport driving with the tires removed from your wheels. After you get out of the hospital then get back to metronome practice, and lot’s of it.” (3)
So, what do you think: Waza or Kankaku? 
  1. Waza; 技/waza/technique; art; skill
  2. Kankaku; 感覚/kankaku/sense; sensation; feeling; intuition
  3. Aidamaari; 間/aida/space (between); gap; interval; distance, time (between); pause; break, span (temporal or spatial); stretch; period (while), relationship (between, among), members (within, among), due to; because of.
    間合/maai/interval; distance; break; pause|suitable time; appropriate opportunity|distance between opponents (kendo).
    在り/ari/existing (at the present moment)|alright; acceptable; passable|to be (usu. of inanimate objects); to have
  4. Seminario Kukishin Biken Jutsu, and Togakure Happō Biken in Lugo: https://www.facebook.com/events/1490695807725786/

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IMHO: Bujinkan Biken Jutsu

From Shiro Kuma by kumafr

sword; helsinki; togakure
In my humble opinion, the Bujinkan Biken Jutsu is not taught enough in our classes. Japanese kanji are cool. Do you know that “biken” meaning “a hidden secret” (1), but another “biken,” means “in my humble opinion.” (2) It is a sign.

As you know, I’m a sword freak. I recently gave a seminar outdoor in Finland on Togakure Happō Biken with my friend Lauri. It was a great seminar. When I came back to my dōjō, I had to teach the Kukishin Biken Jutsu. And I thought it would nice to show both sword systems at the same time.

Next week, I will conduct a seminar in Lugo (Spain) on Biken Jutsu. With the seminar’s organizer, we thought that teaching the two systems would be great. It would give anyone a much better grasp of the rich aspects of sword fighting. Studying the logic of the two sets in the same weekend will provide each participant a good experience. Whether you are a beginner or not, you will get a fantastic understanding of what Biken Jutsu is about.

Teaching the Togakure AND the Kukishin sword techniques in a single seminar will be a “first” for me.

In the Bujinkan, we have nine fighting systems. Only two of them have a densho (3) detailing the waza of the Ryū: the Togakure Ryū Happō Biken, and the Kukishin Ryū Biken Jutsu.

Let me clarifies one thing, here. Each fighting system teaches war. All Ryūha had sword waza because in battle you carry weapons. For some reason, we do not have specific densho except for these two Ryū (or they are not transmitted to us yet).

At first glance, they look entirely different. But this is only an illusion.

On one side, the structure of the Kukishin consists of nine basic forms. They are then multiplied and duplicated into “9 Sayu Gyaku” (4) and “9 henka” (5). This turns the nine basics into twenty-seven forms creating an infinite series of combinations.

On the other side, the structure of the Togakure consists of “only ” seven waza. But, with the correct eye, you discover the same infinite possibility for combinations. To make a long story short, the seven waza are “nine + one.”

When you train one or the other system you cannot see the similarities, only the differences. When you put them side to side, their unity becomes visible. This is what we will do next week in Spain, I hope you can join us. (6)

As my former sword instructor used to say “ancient sword systems were all limited to nine waza. Peacetime created the sword schools of today”. (6) These techniques were then combined together to make surviving possible.

I hope that Jose Camino records the seminar on video. If he does, I will put it on www.koimartialart.com (it will be in Spanish). I have also decided to make a video recording in English next January when I’m in India with Shiva and his Bujinkan India team.

To complete that, I will make a kindle e-book summarizing the mix of these Ryū. (mid-2019). I have to write the ebook because the Japanese language is so creative that “ebook” is also called “densho.” (8)


1. Hiken (biken); 秘鍵: hidden mysteries; secret principle.
2. Hiken (biken): 卑見: my humble opinion.

3. Densho; 伝書: book or scroll that has been handed down through generations; a book of secrets.

4. Sayū Gyaku; Sayū; 左右: left and right, but also “control, domination,” or “relative direction.” And Gyaku; 逆: reverse, opposite

5. Henka; 変化; change; variation; alteration; mutation; transition; transformation; transfiguration; metamorphosis .

6. Seminar in Lugo (Spain), September 22nd-23rd: https://www.facebook.com/events/1490695807725786/

7. Nine waza: This French instructor lived in Japan for twenty years. Vice-world champion of Kendō. 7th dan Kendō. 7th dan Iaidō. 6th dan Battōdō. He taught Seitei Iai; Musō Shinden (over 70 kata); and new about 30 ancient styles of sword fighting. On top that, he was a Frenchman, member of the National Japanese Kendō team! He was outstanding and knew a lot.

8. Densho; 電書: electronic book; e-book; ebook.

Ninja: Unmasking the Myth By Stephen Turnbull

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Yes, I have read Turnbull and know his version but I have spent 15 years by Soke’s side hearing the wisdom that our art has brought us.

It reverberates deeply. It is not academic.

We are not looking to prove a direct lineage. At least I am not.

I am trying to explore the origin story of the Toda family’s art. I don’t care how old it really is. If the art was created in the Edo period by a bunch of Onmitsu and Oniwaban agents, then so be it.

To me, it is like the Masons picking up where the Templars left off. The Toda family were no doubt Takasho which have a strong connection to the Onmitsu and Oniwaban. I have continuously found records that prove the Toda family have worked as Torimi/Onmitsu agents and can prove that they came from the Iga-Shu sharpshooters.

The evidence is mounting high very quickly. It is just a matter of putting a label on it. Toda Sensei felt it should be called Togakure Ryu. Maybe it is just a remnant of the Iga Ryu giving credit to the story of Togakushi. Whatever, I am just interested in the ride through history that this origin story has provided us because without it I never would have had this personal adventure of discovery and excitement.

Seriously, every day I find more and more than just line up with Takamatsu’s story. I think we are just still stuck on what we do and do not call ninja and ninjutsu.

And I for one still prefer my Japanese resources. As great as a researcher as he is, I do not think he is the one to draw the line as to what is and what is not the truth about a very secretive Japanese art.

Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo

The BKR Interview  –   Part 1

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Originally, this was going to be a short essay that was going to discuss different aspects of a long discussion I had with some Bujinkan practitioners some time ago. However, after spending several hours just talking about Budo and my experiences in Japan and China with these students, it became evident that a simple essay would not be enough. To this end, a magazine series detailing different aspects of the discussion, along with additional material concerning the Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo (BKR), of which I created, seemed more appropriate. Hence, this series was born.

My experience in the Bujinkan
I am often asked, “How long have you been studying Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu?”. My answer is complex because in the early days of the art in the USA there were not many schools or teachers. I first met our 34th Grandmaster Hatsumi Sensei in 1986 at the World Ninja Summit in Ohio. But for about two years before that, I was training with a man I will call JK. He was a Kyu a ranked student under Stephen K. Hayes when I first met him in 1984. By the time I had met Hatsumi Sensei, JK had earned his Shodan or “black belt” but he soon stopped his training shortly afterward for personal reasons.
 So another friend of mine, Chris Nardi, and I continued the local group in the Albany NY area until I left for Japan to go to University and continue my training with Hatsumi
SokeAs JK had stopped training and teaching, from 1986 onward I also trained with Jack Hoban, BudMalmstrom and Stephen K. Hayes. It was always seminar training events only; I was not a member of their dojos.
The only person I trained with regularly from 1986 to 1989 was Jack Hoban, and
that was on a monthly basis in neighboring New Jersey. I pretty much got my driver’s license as soon as I turned 16 just so I could drive the trip myself from NY to NJ and back, and not rely on others. Then, at the 1989 Tai Kai, I met Hatsumi Sensei for the second time, and I really began to take my training much more seriously.
This is also when I met the well-known American instructor, RalphSevere. I started flying down to Dallas Texas to train with Ralph, and my group and I brought him up to NY a couple of times for seminars as well. So that’s how it started for me, and how I moved to Japan in 1991 after my first trip in 1990.

What is the Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo?
It is not really different at all. The BKR is simply an association of teachers who all train under the same syllabus up to the 4th Dan, after that the student becomes a student of the headmaster inJapan under the guidance of their BKR instructor. The only real difference between us and your average Bujinkan Dojo is that we strongly encourage cross training with other systems and allow students to compete in various types of tournaments should they decide to do so. This is about the only thing different about my organization. We are a subset to the mainstream Bujinkan.
The training is not really different than training in with a Shihan in Japan, it’s basically the same, other than that I heavily incorporate the attitude, training techniques and fighting spirit that I received from my competition coach, Enson Inoue. I do make the training more “hard”– I like to make the training a physical workout. In my opinion, the BKR is like training the old way, before the way it is now. Hatsumi Sensei has often said that to get to his level, you have to train the way he did when he was younger. I also include a lot of Kosen Judo and MMA training as I feel they are great companions to our “Bujinkan skill set.”
If you look at the old purple Togakure Ryu Ninpo Taijutsu Book by Hatsumi Sensei, (handing it to one of the students to look at) at the beginning of the book he writes about proper diet, which Sensei takes very seriously. He discusses stretching, which you rarely see anybody does properly anymore. There are many dojos that don’t even stretch at the beginning of class. Sadly, they feel it is a “waste of dojo time”. So with the BKR, I try to cover all of this old material. I try to instill the basics.
This old book of sensei is said to be the required material up through the rank of Godan or the 5th-degree black belt (flipping through the pages of the book). I incorporate all of this, such as the Junan Taiso, which in some ways is very much like yoga. None of the stretchings is quick or fast, it is all slow and relaxed. As I mentioned above, another difference between my dojo and some Bujinkan dojo is the inclusion of contact sparring and competition in the 1960’s & 1970’s.
Hatsumi, Sensei incorporated sparring in the Bujinkan dojo training, it was called
yakusoku randori-geiko.
Anthony Netzler, my first roommate in Japan, and I had the chance to do this kind of training with Hatsumi Sensei in the park on many occasions. We were allowed to freely attack at Sensei it bonded us to him in a way. I strongly feel that this should be part of the training that I pass on to my students.”
Now that he is older, he does not do this so much anymore. Us few Tokyo and
 Noda-City residents at that time were very lucky, for by the time I arrived in Japan,
Sensei was already slowing down with this type of training. It usually happened spontaneously when we would help with walks with the dogs he had at the time. We would pass a park or an empty field and he would tie the dogs up and just start throwing us around. If it wasn’t for Anthony, I never would have had these opportunities. He always had a special relationship with Sensei and he got my foot in the door with him very early. I am ever grateful.
As for competition in the BKR, we consider it tradition…, Takamatsu Sensei
(our 33rd Grandmaster or Soke) was well known in the Japanese Martial Arts community in pre-WW2 Shanghai China as the “Moko no Tora” or the Mongolian Tiger. It is said he had over 100 competitive matches and never lost. Hatsumi Sensei was a competitive Judo player as well and has stated that his training in competitive Judo is what made him so strong and get him to the level of even being introduced to Takamatsu Soke.
Therefore, in the BKR the opportunity for competition is there for those who wish to pursue it with Bujinkan heart. There is resistance training and controlled sparring in all BKR session to develop each student’s ability to apply the techniques in actual situations. But there is no requirement to compete.
In my own opinion and experience, a lot of people who train in the Bujinkan may train for a year or two and earn their black belt. The problem is that they do not even know the Kihon Happoproperly. They don’t know what a proper omote gyaku is. They don’t really know what they should know. This is mainly because of Hatsumi Sensei judges a person’s rank based on “heart” and“feeling”, which is fine, that’s great.  But… if you get your Sandan in Bujinkan, then you should know that, “
Sensei sees in me that I am worth aSandan……someday.” They have to admit to themselves that they don’t know the techniques properly yet.  
In this case, Hatsumi Sensei says to go back and find a Shihan that will teach you because he is no longer teaching the basics and that’s what the BKR is really for. There are many 15th Danin the Bujinkan, but some have only been training for five or so years. It because Sensei sees in their heart that they are good people and he gives them these ranks prematurely because of their good heart. But their skill in Taijutsu
is still lacking. 
I am not Hatsumi Sensei and do not grade based on heart or feeling. If I give a student a BKR Shodan, that person will know everything that is required in the
Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki2, which Sensei wrote for Shodan.
They will know the material, they can do the material, and they can apply the material. That’s all it really is. It’s no different than what Sensei has taught me in my
over 15 years in Japan.” When I first went to Japan after high school in 1990, there were only a few hundred Godan in the world. Within 20 years, there were several thousand. Who knows how many there are now. Let’s just say Sensei has definitely sped up the process. 
Sensei always says that he is not really teaching, that he doesn’t like to teach, and doesn’t want to teach. He says these things about himself and then he says that Takamatsu Sensei was the same way. He says that for a person to learn this art, they have to steal it from him. You have to watch him, pick it up, go home, and practice it. He
won’t teach it to you, you have to figure it out yourself. That’s why I wrote the article jibun denarai (to learn on your own). I interviewed [Hatsumi] Sensei for that article.”
I do believe that it was different back in the early days. The original students are like family to Hatsumi Sensei, he loves them as his own.
So, I believe he taught them all with lots of love and care. Then it was time for him to continue with his job and grow the organization into the international group it has become. From that point on everyone needed to see the Shihan to learn the basics…
 but we had to go to Soke to learn the art. This may be a difficult thing to understand for some beginners.  In the BKR we also train with weapons quite frequently and I am often asked what I think is the correct phase to incorporate weapons into training. Once a student has learned how to do ukemishoshin or gogyo, and the Kihon Happo – 
 or once they get to a basic level, they should start right away with
bokken, and hanbo, and things like that.

There is no real “rank” point where it starts. 
With the BKR, there are no formal requirements for weapons until after Shodan. Sword katabo-kata,
etc. are in the ranks above Shodan. We train with weapons at every level, but it is not a required item on the syllabus until after Shodan.
In 2001 Hatsumi Sensei knew I had made the decision to move back home to the USA for a few years before returning to Japan, and we had discussed my training because of this. He said that I should go and teach the Ju-Godan the basics! That’s how the BKR got started. He endorsed my syllabus because he wanted me to teach. 
Sensei wants the world to know that he gives rank out based on heart, and nobility. The BKR is more about the ability. I don’t have the eyes to see everyone’s heart that’s what Hatsumi Sensei does. Once I got the feeling that I was going to be leaving Japan, I started to put together all of my notes – I have tons and tons of notes from the day I started training in Japan until the day I left – so I started to organize things together, making sure that I knew the Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki, and to make sure everything else that all of the teachers had taught me was together. My goal was not to create an organization where you pay money or anything like that, I don’t charge a fee to become
a member, there is no such thing.
When this magazine comes out, there will be a fee for that, but there is no fee to be a member. If you are a Sandan in the Bujinkan, and you want to have the BKR certification, there is no charge for the certification.
You just have to pass the tests.

1. The kihon happo, or “infinite basics”, along with the movements of the San Shin no Kata, are considered the basic techniques and movements of Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu.

2. The Ten Chi Jin Ryaku no Maki, or “The Outline Scrolls of Heaven, Earth, & Man”, is considered the first training curriculum Hatsumi Sensei prepared for his students.

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Togakure Ryu and Kukishin Ryu deeper

From Blog – Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo 武神館國際連光明道場 by bkronline

Is the link between the Togakure Ryu and Kukishin Ryu deeper than we thought???

In the middle ages, there was a very serious samurai practice to take written vows when undertaking the study of a military science, especially when the pupil is from outside of the family.

In the case of the Kukishin Ryu, the Kuki family to this day still preserves a document from 1532 CE that has been continuously added to until modern times. The document is the 2nd scroll in a set of two titled “Seiyakusho” (誓約書). It is a written oath that pupils sign upon formally entering the school or “Ryu”. It is a promise to uphold the true meaning and spirit of the martial arts (military arts) and that one promises to cultivate a great sense of justice. The signature is traditionally accompanied by a thumbprint in blood, vowing they will never reveal what they have been taught to others without the master’s permission.

In the book Kukishinden Zensho by Ago Kiyotaka in 1983 he writes that he could hold in his own hands and examine this original 1532 CE document carefully. He notes that the more recent portion of the document leading up to the modern times was re-written by Kuki Takaharu in 1904.

This list is a veritable all-star list of Japanese military commanders and master swordsmen. Including Yamamoto Kansuke (Red Star on pic), known to have studied Togakure Ryu ninjutsu from Fujibayashi Nagato no Kami. The list also includes Sanada Masayuki (Green Star), the father of Sanada Yukimura. Both men are recorded as hiring local shugenja from the Togakure and Iizuna regions as shinobi and “Kamari” commandos in their forces.

Takamatsu Toshitsugu (Yellow star), our current Soke’s master also signed this list in 1899, vowing his allegiance to the emperor and the nation and to protect the teachings of the Kukishin Ryu. His “Kohai” or junior training partner Iwami Nangaku signed the list in 1922.

As Kuki Takahiro (隆博) died in WWII he was the last signature on the list as the Kuki family has taken vows of peace and no longer are involved in the martial arts. They now run several successful businesses and corporations all over the country and still administrate the Kumano Grand Shrine.

The original document list begins in 1532 with the vows and signatures/stamps of;

Kuki Yagoro, 1532 CE

Yamamoto Kansuke, 1534 CE

Kuki Moritaka, 1573 CE

Kuki Yoshitaka, 1574 CE (Formed the Kuki Navy from various bands of pirates from the Shima region)

1 name omitted

Sanada Masayuki, 1577 CE (Father of the famous Sanada Yukimura who used Shinobi from Togakure)

Bessho Nagaharu, 1576 CE

2 names omitted

Itō Ittōsai, 1573 CE (Famous master swordsman, 2nd to only Miyamoto Musashi, 33 matches, no losses)

Kuki Shigetaka, 1576 CE (Son of Kuki Yoshitaka)

Kuki Takasue, 1597 CE (Son of Kuki Moritaka)

Miyamoto Musashi (Black star), 1494 CE (Here we have an enigma, the date is exactly 100 years too early but it is for the famous swordsman, the Kuki family claims that it is the same Miyamoto Musashi who wrote the book of 5 Rings and fought over 60 duels with only one loss, I think the date may be a typo and should read 1594 putting Musashi at around 10 years old, the normal age of taking these vows)

Chōsokabe Motochika, 1595 (Daimyo of the Chōsokabe Clan)

Takagi Oriemon (Blue star), 1616 CE (Founder of the Takagi Yoshin Ryu)

Kuki Takayuki, 1648 CE (Daimyo of the Tanba Ayabe Domain)

1 name omitted

Kuki Takanao, 1662 CE (3rd Daimyo of the Tanba Ayabe Domain, brought Kito Ryu into the Kuki family)

Kuki Takahide, 1683 CE (Son of Kuki Takanao)

Shibukawa Bangoro, 1625 CE (Founder of Shibukawa Ryu Jujutsu)

Kimura Ittosai, 1649 CE (no information on him at this time)

Kuki Takashin, 1712 CE (Founder of the Shima branch of the Kuki family)

Kuki Taka??, 1743 CE (no information at this time)

Kuki Takanori, 1773 CE (8th Daimyo Lord of the Tanba Ayabe Domain)

3 names omitted

Ishitani Matsutaro, 1868 CE (Takamatsu Sensei’s 2nd master)

Takamatsu Toshitsugu, 1899 CE (Hatsumi Sensei’s master)

Iwami Nangaku, 1921 CE (Takamatsu Sensei’s Kohai under Ishitani Sensei)

9 names omitted

Shiozaki Katsuo, 1923 CE (Student of Iwami Nangaku)

Essay by Sean Askew
Bujinkan Kokusai Renkoumyo

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