文殊 MONJU – Bujinkan Theme 2018

文殊 MONJU (Guardian of the Law, Voice of the Law) is one of many meanings. Monju is considered the wisest of the Bodhisattva, and thus acts as the Voice (Expounder) of Buddhist Law.

Japanese sculptures of Monju often depict the deity sitting atop a roaring lion or shishi, which symbolizes the voice of Buddhist Law and the power of Buddhism to overcome all obstacles. Shishi are also commonly found guarding the entrance gate to shrines and temples. Monju typically holds the Sutra of Wisdom in the left hand and a sharp sword in the right, which Monju uses to cut through illusion and shed light on the unenlightened mind. In some artwork, Monju carries a lotus flower and sits atop a shishi (mythical lion).

Monju’s cult was introduced to Japan by Ennin 圓仁 (794-864 AD; also spelled 円仁), a Japanese monk who visited Wutaishan (a five-terraced mountain in China’s Shanxi Province that today is still a major center of the Monju cult) during his travels to China (838-847 AD).

Mañjuśrī is a bodhisattva associated with prajñā (insight) in Mahayana Buddhism. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is also a yidam. His name means “Gentle Glory” in Sanskrit.[1] Mañjuśrī is also known by the fuller name of Mañjuśrīkumārabhūta,[2] literally “Mañjuśrī, Still a Youth” or, less literally, “Prince Mañjuśrī”.

A mantra commonly associated with Mañjuśrī is the following:

oṃ arapacana dhīḥ
The Arapacana is a syllabary consisting of forty-two letters, and is named after the first five letters: a, ra, pa, ca, na

A is a door to the insight that all dharmas are unproduced from the very beginning (ādya-anutpannatvād).
RA is a door to the insight that all dharmas are without dirt (rajas).
PA is a door to the insight that all dharmas have been expounded in the ultimate sense (paramārtha).
CA is a door to the insight that the decrease (cyavana) or rebirth of any dharma cannot be apprehended, because all dharmas do not decrease, nor are they reborn.
NA is a door to the insight that the names (i.e. nāma) of all dharmas have vanished; the essential nature behind names cannot be gained or lost.

Tibetan pronunciation is slightly different and so the Tibetan characters read: oṃ a ra pa tsa na dhīḥ (Tibetan: ༀ་ཨ་ར་པ་ཙ་ན་དྷཱི༔, Wylie: om a ra pa tsa na d+hIH).[14] In Tibetan tradition, this mantra is believed to enhance wisdom and improve one’s skills in debating, memory, writing, and other literary abilities. “Dhīḥ” is the seed syllable of the mantra and is chanted with greater emphasis and also repeated a number of times as a decrescendo.

Bujinkan Keiko 2018
As far as the training goes, it is basically the same as previous years. A lot of Mūtō-dori against knife, sword and rokushakubō. Very often Sōke uses his fingers to “walk” across the hands, which finally captures a finger lock. He makes the attacker to forget he got a weapon in his hand and he just pick it out of the hand of the surprised Uke.

Even when it is Taijutsu, the concept of Mūtō-dori is the same principles used.

More about Monju.
More about Manjushri.

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三光稲荷 Sankō Inari

On the second training this year Sōke improved an old painting with a fox. He painted white hair on the Fox and added the kanji. Then he put it up on the left side of Shomen wall in Honbu Dōjō.

三光稲荷 SANKŌ INARI
(Three light rice load)

G00g1e translate isn’t much help. But I found interesting story on Wikipedia about Inari Ōkami is the Japanese kami of foxes, of fertility, rice, tea and sake, of agriculture and industry, of general prosperity and worldly success, and one of the principal kami of Shinto. In earlier Japan, Inari was also the patron of swordsmiths and merchants. Represented as male, female, or androgynous, Inari is sometimes seen as a collective of three or five individual kami. Inari appears to have been worshipped since the founding of a shrine at Inari Mountain in 711 AD, although some scholars believe that worship started in the late 5th century.

By the 16th century Inari had become the patron of blacksmiths and the protector of warriors, and worship of Inari spread across Japan in the [[Edo period]. Inari is a popular figure in both Shinto and Buddhist beliefs in Japan. More than one-third (32,000) of the Shinto shrines in Japan are dedicated to Inari. Modern corporations, such as cosmetic company Shiseido, continue to revere Inari as a patron kami, with shrines atop their corporate headquarters.


Inari and their fox spirits help the blacksmith Munechika forge the blade kogitsune-maru (Little Fox) in the late 10th century. This legend is the subject of the noh drama Sanjo Kokaji.

The fox and the wish-fulfilling jewel are prominent symbols of Inari. Other common elements in depictions of Inari, and sometimes of their kitsune, include a sickle, a sheaf or sack of rice, and a sword. Another belonging was their whip—although they were hardly known to use it, it was a powerful weapon that was used to burn people’s crops of rice.

Inari is a popular deity with shrines and Buddhist temples located throughout most of Japan. According to a 2007 report from Kokugakuin University, 2970 shrines are dedicated to Inari.

If you find one or usually many red Tori gates it is most likely a shrine dedicated to Inary deity.

So what does this mean for Bujinkan? I don’t know, it is an interesting part of Japanese culture. Maybe he just want us to look it up.

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Kaigozan Spring Seminar with Sveneric & Dean

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Hello.

If you want to attend this seminar you must sign up on the website now before Sunday 13’th.
http://kaigozan.se/seminarier/

If you don’t sign up now you should read my ranting below. I will have no tolerance for people not showing me respect for organising a seminar by following my simple requests…

More than two weeks ago I wrote on Facebook and Twitter that I needed x amount of people signed up for the seminar to decide if I need to rent a bigger dojo before yesterday. I thought I’ll use this news list and extend the time to this Sunday evening.

If you are interested to attend this seminar I want to know now, you need to sign up on the web site (I don’t accept sign ups by email, Facebook etc, only from the web site form). And you need to do it before Sunday to be guaranteed a place at the seminar.

If I don’t get more than 33 people by Sunday evening I will not be able to book a bigger dojo and accept more participants.

You need to understand that I’m taking the financial risks. The instructors will get paid from my own pocket if I can’t get exactly 33 paying members. And we can’t squeeze in more people in the dojo, it wouldn’t be fair to the people that did what I asked and signed up early.

If you decide you want to attend late we might have filled up all places because I didn’t book a bigger dojo. If you’re high ranking or friend doesn’t matter you caused me problems. If you come unannounced and expect to be welcome you take things for granted. You could stand there and cry, but it doesn’t help the situation. If the seminar is in my dojo we have limited places, and there will be no special treatments.

I’ve seen this trend more and more the past 20 years. The first seminars I organised we had ~50 people signed up three months ahead, ~10 more signed up late. Now it is the opposite which makes it difficult to plan things, and we need to change this trend back.

I know there are those who can’t decide until last week, it is the same for me sometimes. But if it is a seminar I really want to go to, I sign up immediately and make sure I can attend. The art of planning and commitment seems to be disappearing.

Sometimes I can’t decide until the last week, then I’ll check to see if I would be welcome. If not I wouldn’t blame the organisers or cry about it.

Alright sorry for ranting but I don’t think everybody understand or take things for granted. If I get enough people that it would pay the extra rent for a bigger dojo I have no problems, this time.

If I rent a bigger dojo we can accept up to ~70 people. I kinda promised free beer if there is more than 50 people.

Again please sign up now!
http://kaigozan.se/seminarier/

Happy trainings!

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Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu vs Bojutsu vs Kenjutsu…

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Cutting against his arm

This summer like most summers we train a lot more with long weapons since the dojo is too small to really use long weapons properly. This summer we train Bojutsu against Kenjutsu (long staff against sword). I think I teach and train a little different than most Bujinkan teachers out there, but I can’t really say maybe there is those who approach the training like I do. Let me explain.

Kote haneage followed by Haneage

Kote haneage followed by Haneage

First of all you learn how to use the staff, spinning and striking etc, this is mostly solo-training. Then you learn the Keiko Sabaki Kata (movement practice techniques) in my dojo we only practice one technique for the whole two hour class. Some students really have problems with coordination, others capture it quicker. In this first step I don’t mention distance, timing or anything except which strikes and blocks to make. This can also be solo-training and done alone against an imagined opponent.

Second I take the sword and we focus on how to handle the situation the best way with a sword. If he is attacking me with the staff I immediately counter him by stepping forward. I’m not gonna step backwards defending myself all the time, when he steps in to strike me in his preferred distance out of my reach; I boldly step in at the same time and block the staff and get even closer into my preferred distance so I can cut him with the sword. As I see it this is the only chance I have against a longer weapon, there is no point of running backwards.

Catching the staff and Tsuki

Catching the staff and Tsuki

Thirdly I take the staff again. I attack the kenjutsu-ka fully (not really, but almost) and make sure he does a good block, and as he block I don’t stay frozen or try to push harder on him. As I strike I’m already prepared for the next movement when he comes in and try to cut me, I move out to my distance and do the next strike.

Then I take the sword again and try to avoid being hit from this point in the technique, by blocking and countering again. I’m not really gonna give up or run away. If I can cut I will cut.

Then again I take the staff and try to deal with this really difficult opponent, I avoid his cut and counter him until the end of the technique where I make it impossible for him to do anything. Then the technique is finished without changing the sequences of the strikes, the only thing that is flexible is the distance and the timing. And this is where the true training comes in.

Then at the end of the class we record a short demo to video which will be available for download later. This is how we spend our two hour trainings at Kaigozan Dojo this summer.

No henka, no variations, true to the technique.

Kote haneage as he try to cut my left arm

Kote haneage as he try to cut my left arm

I always thought quality is better than quantity. It is amazing how cleverly these techniques is made up, it is so much more than executing the strikes rapidly against a rather passive opponent. If the opponent (sword-guy) is good and understand how to use the sword there is really not many options to change the technique and do something different, the possibility for henka becomes very narrow, what you can change is very small details. For me this is what henka means, you failed your initial technique and need to adapt because of miscalculation.

I know there are those out there only doing henka-training, but how do you do henka training only, henka of what? If you try to train yourself into intuition without basic foundation you are doing something I don’t understand. You weren’t born out from nowhere, someone did something very basic with someone and you was born. How do you henka anything into existence?

Victory ending of the technique

Victory ending of the technique

If anyone is interesting I’m doing three more one day Bojutsu mini-seminars this summer.

Happy Training!

/Mats

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