Is 2022 A Dive Into The Abyss?

From Shiro Kuma by kumablog

Happy Shinnen to all!

This 新年 (shinnen) is the Japanese for “New Year”. (1) This became a particular date only when humans began counting time. But this cosmic event has been going on for more than 4.5 billion years.

So if humans put so much weight on this date, I guess it is to get a new start every 365 days. In the Bujinkan, this fresh start always coincided with a new study theme. Sōke Hatsumi would give it at Daikōmyōsai. Since the first official theme in 1993, it represented a new start for us. And each year, we would discover a new way to fight or think. The “non-Bujinkan” new year is the same, and it is about beginning anew. There is a Japanese Shintō tradition to do a misogi to cleanse the body and the mind around the lunar new year. (2) Whatever the culture, the turn of the year is an excellent excuse to change our behaviours for the better. 

That is why we make resolutions for the new year. I’m sure that many of you did it even if we know that most of these decisions will fail. But that’s the game we play every year on new year’s eve. In these times of world pandemic, the temptation to do nothing would be wrong. We have to act and avoid depression. The world situation will end one day, so we should be prepared and ready never to give up. 

Budō is about patience, but patience is not stillness. You have to set new goals, come to the dōjō, and train to be ready when all this is behind us. Since March 2020, my Paris dōjō has been empty. I think students used Covid as an excuse to procrastinate. It is easy to give up on adversity, but this is far from the Budō attitude taught by Sensei all these years. If you give up now, I see that as a betrayal of his teachings. Did you forget the meaning of “banpen fugyō”, “10000 attacks, no surprise”? (3)

No one planned a world pandemic. Covid is here, and there is nothing you can do about it. So use your Bujinkan knowledge and adapt your life to it. There is no need to fight it. It is like crossing a big river, don’t fight the heavy stream, float in the water and go with it until you reach the other bank. It would be best to return to the training hall to make you feel better. 

What makes us humans is social contact, not social media. If you let yourself submerged by negativity, you turn “Shinnen” into “Shinen” (深淵 “the abyss”). (4) When you dive into the abyss, there is no hope, only an endless fall into oblivion. The abyss is tempting and easy. The Budō path is more challenging but will force you to react! The resolutions for 2022 should be: stop complaining. Refuse Shinen and welcome change. Go to the dōjō and train more. 

Life is not easy, and reacting will not make it easier. You are in charge of your own life. Whatever the obstacles on your way, you have to adapt. I learned one thing in Japan over the last thirty years, and it is never to give up. If your dōjō is not open because of covid, train your Sanshin no Kata, train your weapons and keep your skills to their best. If you have the chance to have an open dōjō, go there and study. Budō is life; choose to live, not to die. Only those with a surviving spirit will make it. 

There is always hope ahead of us; get ready for it. In Japanese, the spring season also means “new year.” Another translation of “Haru” is “new hope” (5). There is always hope in the future; things should improve very soon.

On February 4th, we enter the year of the yang water tiger. The water tiger is full of energy; use it to your best. The “Water Tiger of 2022 implies caution, growth, development, challenge, creation, and planning.” (6)

My conviction of a better future lies in the fact that I believe in life, so should you. This faith in the future is also 信念 Shinnen in Japanese. (7)

________________________________

1 新年 Shinnen, New Year
2 Misogi: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXaJbh9e-Po
3 One of the mottos of Gyokko Ryū
4 深淵 Shinen: abyss
5 春 Haru: spring, new year 
6 Water tiger: https://www.chinesefortunecalendar.com/2022/default.htm 
7 信念 shinnen: belief, faith, conviction

Bujinkan Tees and goodies

Yeo Ho Ho Merrry Christmas with Simon Yeo!

From Ninjutsu in the World by Paul Masse

Simon has been training in the Bujinkan for many many years and studies with the best and brightest in BBJ world as well.  He is a successful business man and has lots to share with us about his journey and how the teachings of Hatsumi Sensei influenced his life. but don`t take my word for it,  just listen!! Ps love this picture of Simon, a Shaolin Monk, and a Krav Maga master walking down the street and a poor unsuspecting mugger! 

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SWORD FIGHTING fundamental postures with MATS HJELM

From Budoshop.se by BUDOSHOP.SE

SWORD FIGHTING fundamental postures with MATS HJELM. These “Kamae” is not simply a static posture you can learn from looking at a picture. Each Kamae is studied by practicing the whole movement. All Kamae have a complete technique from start to finish connected to it. The whole technique becomes the Kamae and help us understand the posture better.

Hatsumi Sōke taught us these Kamae very often without telling us what it was. He often started the Sunday morning class by taking a sword and teach one of these Kamae without explaining the origins of the technique. I as most others (I think) thought he just did something random without deeper thought behind it. I soon found out that I was wrong, it was these Kamae he was showing us. It was Ninja Happo-biken from Togakure-ryu.

This video covers Kamae no Kata, the postures and movements of traditional sword fighting techniques of Togakure-ryu.

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 SWORD FIGHTING fundamental postures with MATS HJELM

On this video Mats show all 8 Sword postures and techniques from the Togakure-ryū in the Bujinkan system. These are the eight postures.

忍者八方秘剣構 NINJA HAPPO BIKEN KAMAE

NINJA SWORD FIGHTING And the essential postures and movements with MATS HJELM. Each technique is demonstrated and explained from different camera angles. The instructions are in English.

  1. 一之構 ICHI NO KAMAE
  2. 正眼之構 SEIGAN NO KAMAE
  3. 中段之構 CHŪDAN NO KAMAE
  4. 下段之構 GEDAN NO KAMAE
  5. 棟水之構 TŌSUI NO KAMAE
  6. 八相之構 HASSŌ NO KAMAE
  7. 霞之構 KASUMI NO KAMAE
  8. 刀匿礮姿 TŌTOKU HYŌSHI
SWORD FIGHTING fundamental postures with MATS HJELM

Click on the button above to buy the 40 minute video download

HD1280x720, MP4, QuickTime Text, AAC, H.264. Download size 830Mb

This video is from a Seminar in 2021. Recorded in Sundbyberg, Stockholm in October 30’th 2021. 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 history with Sean Askew!

From Ninjutsu in the World by Paul Masse

Sean shares some of his insights into the history of Ninja and his martial arts journey.  Lots of interesting stories to dive into! 

Sean is also hosting a seminar with Noguchi Sensei in March of 2022 in Las Vegas and has his own dojo in Michigan.  Be sure to drop by and say hello if you are in the area!

https://www.bkrbudo.com/?fbclid=IwAR2tSAN-vCoc-FdnVrDq_mpnXbo5B79EcW8TXWGJcAtydIOEpIg64bUE6gw


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空打ち Karauchi: Striking Emptiness

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Michael

Michael Glenn Strikes Emptiness

Last night in my class one student said, “This is pretty basic.” I did a double take and said, “Really? You think so?” I told him that the kata was more advanced than it appeared.

We were studying 一文字 Ichimonji. This is a 無刀捕 mutōdori kata from 高木揚心流 Takagi Yoshin Ryū. And it does look simple. But mutōdori has so many levels.

One morning when Hatsumi Sensei taught this kata he said, 

You make him cut the air. This is mutōdori, like he’s practicing by himself and striking emptiness.

The question I posed to my students last night was, “How?” How do you get your opponent, ostensibly a competent swordsman, to just cut the air and miss you completely?

As an answer, I gave them three insights into advanced mutōdori that I received from Soke. If you are interested, I share these kind of tips for anyone who joins my mailing list, which you can do here: eepurl.com/d0w_r

First, give the enemy what he wants. He is seeking violence and destruction. Let him have it.

Offer him a target. If you try to evade, then you always take away the target. He will then try to reacquire a target. But it may not be one that you are prepared to defend. Give him what he wants, then let him strike emptiness.

In another class I had with Hatsumi Sensei, he did a mutōdori against Oguri Sensei. Soke asked Oguri to describe the feeling. He said he couldn’t get any clear focus on the target for his cut. He said he felt his own kamae collapse.

In response, Hatsumi Sensei said that this is not the movement of sport martial arts. It is a level above that. For Ninjutsu, Soke told us that techniques become “透明 tōmei,” or transparent.

Transparent technique means you have something that cannot be seen or countered. I suggested that my students not plan or decide on a technique before executing it. If you don’t know what technique you will do, your opponent cannot know either. It is difficult for your opponent to counter a technique that doesn’t yet exist.

He will strike blindly at emptiness...  At transparency...  At a Ninja who cannot be seen.

I finished our class with a third suggestion for mutōdori. It is related to 扞技扼 kangiyaku, a kiai which can be verbalized or expressed silently. This kiai calls the opponent to cut.

Hatsumi Sensei did it while holding a kodachi. His opponent tried to cut, but then he collapsed. Soke didn’t even need to hit him. He said,

Give the opponent the feeling to cut. Draw him in. Then your movement will disappear. Disappear from the opponent's perception.

We make him cut emptiness. 

When we finished class, the student who thought the kata looked simple now had a big smile. I could see that he was inspired by these ideas that I shared from my own experience with Hatsumi Sensei. I hope he can carry this forward in his own training and share it with future generations.