Is Magic, Really Magic?

From Shiro Kuma by kumablog

Last Friday, we continued the study of the Tenchijin. We trained some basic Gyaku waza movements. After two years of pandemics, our dōjō is still trying to survive. Our training group is so small that it feels like beginning a new dōjō. We might rename the Kuma dōjō the dōjō of the phoenix! 

I teach beginners, intermediates, and advanced all at once. Teaching various levels is difficult as each student must learn a form matching their level. If you don’t do that, you lose your high ranks or beginners. Never forget that. In a multilevel class, beginners are also exposed to advanced forms. And they enjoy it.

I recently taught the “step by step” beginners’ form of Musō Dori. Then I moved the level up for the two Jūgodan and the Dai Shihan attending the class that night. After teaching the basic moves, I went up the technical ladder. I offered a more profound vision of Musō Dori to the group. This time I controlled Uke without force. And threw him onto the ground using his body reactions instead of my muscles. 

Then I heard “wow, it’s magic!” coming from the beginners’ side of the group.

Disclaimer: This post is about “magic” but there is no magic in Budō. There are only refined basics. Micro-movements are invisible to young practitioners. Locks and throws without grabbing always seem strange or magic to neophytes. This is “Kuki nage”, the Budō concept for “air throw.” (1)

It looks magic to the untrained eyes because the correct ability to see is not developed yet. Practitioners see it, but their interpretations and feelings come in the way. Emotions make them blind to reality. They can’t see the movement. It is invisible from their limited experience. A student of Budō needs years of practice to develop this capacity. Until he gets enough experience, Budō is a “mienai waza”, a technique that you cannot possibly see. (2) 

Reality is invisible to young students, who don’t have the level to see what is happening in front of them. That is why they call it “magic!” In fact, you should see a waza as being like an unpolished diamond. The gem’s value resides in the long polishing hours demanded to get the shiny stone. If you find a raw diamond on the ground today, you won’t recognize it, and only a trained geologist would know. Budō is the same.

“Magic” is the name you give to a movement before the long polishing work. When I went to Japan for the first time, each class was a “magical” show to me. Today this “magic” is gone because I learned to do what the Japanese do. It takes time. Magic is Genyō in Japanese. (3) 

Genyō is “an enchanting illusion” for beginners. But it is an “original life” (genyo) for the advanced student. (4)(5) Magic (Genyō) changes our perception of life. It turns this “alternative reality” (genyo) (6) into a “dream” (gensō). (7)

Magic doesn’t exist, and we call it “magic” to adjust the perception of reality to our limited understanding. 

Stop dreaming and go back to your basics if you want to become a magician one day!

_________________________________

1 見えない技, mienai waza: a technique that cannot be possible seen
2 空気, Kūki: air; atmosphere​; mood; situation​; someone with no presence; someone who doesn’t stand out at all​
3 幻妖, Genyō: magic
4 幻, Gen: phantom; vision; illusion; an apparition​; mythical thing; a scarce thing
5 妖, Yō (aya): mysterious; bewitching; alluring; enticing; enchanting
6 原原, Gen+yo: original; primitive; primary; fundamental. Raw​ + world; society; public​; life; lifetime; period; generation​; the times​
7 幻想, gensō: fantasy; illusion; vision; dream

Check http://www.koimartialart.com the Bujinkan streaming platform
160 Gb of videos covering all waza and weapons of the Bujinkan 

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. During March and April of 2022, we at Kaigozan Dojo studied the “short sword techniques” within our Bujinkan Dojo system transmitted from Masaaki Hatsumi Sōke to Mats Hjelm.

小太刀術 Kodachi-jutsu (Short Sword Techniques). There is three fundamental sword techniques from the Kukishin-ryū, school in the Bujinkan Dojo. Then we also have the Sanshin no Kata from Gyokko-ryu which all the weapons is connected to.

The Kodachi has been neglected by most Budō-ka and masters since it was a weapon carried by the higher ranked officials.

Masaaki Hatsumi

Download SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM

On this video Mats show all 5 Sword techniques from the Gyokko-ryu and the 3 techniques from the Kukishin-ryu in the Bujinkan system. We studied the basic forms with variations. We also studied Muto-dori and Tanto (knife fighting).

小太刀術 KODACHI-JUTSU

SHORT SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. Each technique is demonstrated and explained from different camera angles. The instructions are in Swedish.

Gyokko-ryu

  1. 地 CHI
  2. 水 SUI
  3. 火 KA
  4. 風 FU
  5. 空 KU

Kukishin-ryu

  1. 飛鳥の剣 HICHŌ NO KEN
  2. 獅子撃 SHISHI GEKI
  3. 十字剣 JUJI-KEN

Click on the button above to buy the 32 minute video download

HD1280x720, MP4, QuickTime Text, AAC, H.264. Download size 823Mb

This video is from a Seminar in 2022. Recorded in Sundbyberg, Stockholm in April 9’th 2022. The seminar was organised by Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo.

About the instructor

Mats Hjelm started training in Bujinkan for the first time around 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 when he had the opportunity to start training more seriously under a Shidōshi. He has taught at numerous seminars all around the world, gone to Japan 3-5 times every year. After he started training he never had a training break. He takes his budo training very seriously! If you want to sponsor a seminar or course, please don’t hesitate to contact him. For more information see his web site kesshi.com or come and train with him at Kaigozan Dojo.

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. During the first two months of 2022, we at Kaigozan Dojo studied the “hidden secret sword techniques” within our Bujinkan Dojo system transmitted from Masaaki Hatsumi Sōke to Mats Hjelm.

秘剣術 Bikenjutsu (Hidden Sword Techniques). There is six fundamental sword techniques from the Togakure-ryū Ninpō-taijutsu school in the Bujinkan Dojo.

Happō-biken, eight directional secret sword means: generating an infinite secret sword from the posture of divine mind – divine eyes (心身心眼 SHIN SHIN SHIN GAN).

Masaaki Hatsumi

Download NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM

On this video Mats show all 6 Sword techniques from the Togakure-ryū in the Bujinkan system. The basic form, many variations and very important concepts in sword fighting was covered. These are the eight postures.

忍者秘剣術 NINJA BIKENJUTSU

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING techniques with MATS HJELM. Each technique is demonstrated and explained from different camera angles. The instructions are in English.

  1. 飛龍之剣 HIRYŪ NO KEN
  2. 霞之剣 KASUMI NO KEN
  3. 無想之剣 MUSŌ NO KEN
  4. 打扣之剣 DATŌ NO KEN
  5. 一閃之剣 ISSEN NO KEN
  6. 雷光之剣 RAIKŌ NO KEN
NINJA SWORD FIGHTING TECHNIQUES

Click on the button above to buy the 32 minute video download

HD1280x720, MP4, QuickTime Text, AAC, H.264. Download size 845Mb

This video is from a Seminar in 2022. Recorded in Sundbyberg, Stockholm in February 12’th 2022. The seminar was organised by Bujinkan Kaigozan Dojo.

About the instructor

Mats Hjelm started training in Bujinkan for the first time around 1983. It wasn’t until 1986 when he had the opportunity to start training more seriously under a Shidōshi. He has taught at numerous seminars all around the world, gone to Japan 3-5 times every year. After he started training he never had a training break. He takes his budo training very seriously! If you want to sponsor a seminar or course, please don’t hesitate to contact him. For more information see his web site kesshi.com or come and train with him at Kaigozan Dojo.

3 Tips for 大外掛 Ōsoto Gake You Should Start Using Now

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

3 Tips for 大外掛 Ōsoto Gake You Should Start Using Now
Bujinkan Honbu Masks, photo from same day by Michael Glenn

Tonight in my class we studied 夢落 yume otoshi. The last time I did this in Japan, Hatsumi Sensei gave us some insights that I want to share with you. He began by telling us 空間で嚮導 Kūkan de kyōdō, or lead the opponent in the kukan.

That was when I should have changed into a new gi. Because it was like a new life for an old ninja. I had a breakthrough for my understanding of taijutsu. But my day leading up to that experience gave no warning it would be special.

I trained for about 6 weeks in Japan every year. So not every day could be amazing. This particular Friday was cold, wet, and boring. I had only errands to keep me entertained before Hatsumi Sensei’s class.

Even my lunch was uninspired. I hunkered down at the low budget family restaurant, Saizeriya in Nagareyama. I only wanted to get out of the cold rain for a bit and work on my training notes in a quiet booth.

Christmas music was already playing, but the holiday decor was only half done. There was a lone Christmas tree surrounded by traffic cones for some arcane reason known only to the カラーコーン fairies. I watched a broken, discarded umbrella blow across the plaza and crash into the soggy tree.

Lucky for me Soke had changed the start time of his classes to 6pm. His 米寿 beiju (88th birthday) was in a couple of weeks. And preparations were underway for his party.

It took almost his entire class to clear my head. I was training with an XXL guy from Finland and he didn’t allow any technique to be done easy. I was beginning to feel like that broken umbrella at the train station.

Then, Hatsumi Sensei showed how to do the 大外掛 Ōsoto gake from yume otoshi. It was only a couple of minutes until the end of training. But he made some wonderful points:

  • First, he said our foot placement was too wide. We should only allow enough space for the knee to come through. 
  • Second, Get the 姿勢 shisei, or posture right by expanding the chest and keeping the head up. 
  • And Third,「頭の向きは投げる方向」Where you look is where you will throw. But the ura side of this is getting the opponent to look in a direction so he throws himself!

Then Soke told us,

空間で嚮導 Kūkan de kyōdō, lead the opponent in the kukan.  You must study something beyond waza, beyond technique. Transcend waza. Without avoiding you move like this. Step slowly, then hold it like this. Let’s try that… that will be the end.
Now here I am two years later sharing these same tips with my students. I do my best to remember the feeling from Soke that night. I would like to take them in a time machine so we could all eat lunch at the Saizeriya and go to Hatsumi Sensei’s class together. But time travel is only in my head training with my memories.

Our 初稽古 Hatsugeiko: First Bujinkan Training for 2022

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

五條天神社で、お焚き上げ otakiage preparations at Gojoten jinja. photo Michael Glenn

Happy new year! This year makes more than 35 years in the Bujinkan for me. I am humbled by the many gifts training has given me during all these years. But I still feel excited for what the future holds. 

Our 初稽古 Hatsugeiko, or the first training of the new year, was a bit different this year. For one, we actually trained on January 1, 2022. This is a holiday for most people, but many of us choose the dojo for holidays anyway! I know many of you have used your vacation time to train in Japan. 

And second, I have reached that point in life where many important teachers and students that I trained with are no longer training at all. Some have died, some have quit training. Either way, I made my hatsugeiko in their honor. 

For our first training of the year, I put a strong focus on kihon. It was cold, so I didn’t have to convince anyone to warm up. We all trained hard and got sweaty. 

We warmed up with ukemi and taihenjutsu including: 前方廻転 zenpō kaiten; 後方廻転 kōhō kaiten; 側方廻転 sokuhō kaiten; 前方蛙廻転 zenpō kaeru kaiten; 後方蛙廻転 kōhō kaeru kaiten; 横転 ōten; and 無手横転 mute ōten. Then we did 初心五型 shoshin gokei, 基本八法 Kihon Happō and even found time for bōjutsu basics. 

The first training of the new year sets the tone for the rest of the year. It is important to approach it with sincerity and a focus that will bring you the results that you want from your training. As I told my students, I am not teaching you. I can show you things and act as an example of where you can go. But in the dojo and in life you are all teaching yourselves. 

Next, we continued our study of 投型 nage kata from last year with 逆投 Gyaku Nage. I worked off of my notes from my studies with Oguri Sensei in Japan. We must keep his taijutsu and training spirit alive even in 2022! I spent some time demonstrating important details for using a makikomi in this waza. Hatsumi Sensei gave us this advice,

Everyone moves with their head, but you have to move with your center here. 伸ばす nobasu, stretch him out then enter from the side.

It is interesting to move with your own center this way. Not ducking under. Not lifting the opponent’s arm. But changing your center to shape the kukan.

For me, Bujinkan training is a central part of my entire life. Maybe it is for you too. Maybe we can move with our center into the new year. This is a way to shape the future from a strong foundation.