- tsuki komi, tsuki gake, kiri age
- kiri sage, kinshi, kochô gaeshi
- shi hô giri, happô giri, tsuki no wa
Each one of these basic techniques is then completed by a set of 9 sayû* gyaku; and a set of 9 henka. Which makes a theoretical total of 27.
What I understood last year in April when training with sensei is that we can see the sayû gyaku (左右逆 - left right reversing forms) as how to apply the basic form to the left or to the right of the opponent. Each sayû gyaku contains in fact more than one or two forms. Then the henka (変化 - beginning of change/end of change) is how to apply the basic form while moving forward or backward. Here again you have more than two ways of doing each one of them.
So from the 9 basic forms listed above with the added sets of sayû gyaku and of henka, we get an infinity of possibilities to adjust the technique to the fighting conditions. Maybe this is the reason why Toda sensei told Takamatsu going to challenge Ishitani, sôke of the kukishin: “don’t use sword techniques against Ishitani sensei as his kukishin biken jutsu is much more powerful than our togakure happô biken”.
The reason why I separated the basic forms into three sets is that if you study these techniques carefully you will notice that they do not apply on the same timeline. The first set is used when you react after the attack begins (nijigen no sekai); the second set while the attack begins (sanjigen no sekai); and the third one before the attack begins (yûgen no sekai).
Also in each group you will see that the first technique of each group is a ten (going up); the second one a chi (going down); and the third one, a jin (going to the opponent). These groups (tenchijin and up/down/forward) actually define a matrix of actions that can be adapted through the sayû gyaku set and/or the henka set.
Maybe this is what sensei meant also by naming it “kukishin ryû happô biken”.
- Biken jutsu (2 dvds basic and kukishin)
- Tachi waza (3 dvds)
The Japanese people are very found about numerology and sensei being Japanese I was not surprised yesterday night when he said “the sanshin no kata is the kihon happô”.
- Sui (Chinese) is Mizu (Japanese). The Chinese humidity of the air is opposed to the Japanese water in the river.
- Hi (Chinese) is Ka (Japanese). The Chinese sun is opposed to the Japanese bonfire.
- Fû (Chinese) is Kaze (Japanese). The Chinese atmosphere is opposed to the Japanese wind.
On Sunday I did a technique at the opening of the class that sensei used to teach us the shizen karada – the natural body movement.
Karada – body ( 自然 体) is a often used by sensei during his classes as everything we do is based on a body or “non body” movement.
On a ryôte dori ( 両手取 り) slide your arms inside Uke’s arms and take his balance. When sensei did it to me I felt nothing he just vanished (melted?) in my grab in such a natural way that I had the feeling that my grip was returned against me.
There was so much softness in his counter action that there was no way for me to counter it or to think on how to react to it.
This feeling is quite strange and happens every time you have the chance to be his Uke. There is power within softness.
To achieve that Hatsumi sensei was simply joining his shoulders between my arms as if he had no bone structure, no rib cage in the middle! By moving the shoulders in a wave action back and forth he slide himself in between my grip and took my balance. The naturalness of his body movement was amazing as nothing could be done to avoid it. Using the karada (体) without chikara – force, strength (力), he then used the gan shi nankotsu (眼指軟骨) to inflict excruciating pain to my eyes and mouth, forcing me to bend backward and therefore to lose my balance.
I can understand it what he did to me but I wasn’t able to reproduce it. As always it is one thing to understand and another one to be able to do it.
When sensei was in between my arms I felt I was facing a wall advancing towards me and I couldn’t avoid it as I was stupidly still grabbing his lapels. Funnily I know I could have let it go but I didn’t. He was controlling my body and my brain together. The only thing I could do was watching my demise. Using the whole body is not moving the body it is being one with your body and Uke’s body at the same time so no free space is available for you to escape.
If I try to describe the feeling a little more it is like there is no strength at all opposing yours and then nothing to fight against. The simple shoulder wave movement together with a body that has been polished for tens of years is what is doing it. Once again, your rank doesn’t prevent you from training and you have to train for a very long time in order to get this ease in action that comes from pure consciousness.
Later during the class sensei used the image of the circle and of pi. Actually when continuing the movement your footwork should be in accordance together with uke’s movement of attack so that you pivot in a circle inside Uke’s attack at a 180° angle to go with him where his body is leading him. By doing so, Uke is not aware of where you are and loses his balance because nothing is opposing him. This pi application has been developed in many other martial arts like Aikidô for example but here in our case there is no grabbing of Uke. Sensei merely used the space created by this dynamic and natural body positioning to stick to Uke so close that he is invisible to Uke’s awareness. Sensei’s body moves like in cloud. It is at the same time a mienai waza, a kûkan and a nagare with nothing to stop Uke’s body but diabling him to perceive you. As they say in the Takagi Yôshin Ryû and the Kukishin Ryû: “ahead lies paradise”. As nothing prevents Uke’s movements Uke falls by only fighting his own strength.
To summarize the whole training that day sensei used a nice image. He said: “don’t be strong, don’t be weak, be zero and through this zero you can see the solution”. Saying that he put his hands in a circle and looked through them as if using a telescope.
Once again everything is linked. telescopes are used to see through sideral space and the stronger they are, the further back in time they can see. You should become a powerful telescope and see through time and space in order to be aware of what is coming next even before Uke knows about it.
Then gan shi nankotsu of this year (眼指軟骨) turns into gan shi nankotsu (眼 其 軟 骨) where shi (其) is oneself; nan (軟) is soft; kotsu (骨) is knack, skill, secret. The “eye, finger, cartilage” is now through our telescope a means to see through yourself, the secret of softness that will defeat the opponent.
Japan has suffered one of the biggest earthquakes in the last 140 years and after the destruction caused by the tsunami they expect at least 10000 casualties. But our media in Europe are only speaking about the possible nuclear catastrophe and rarely speak about the people in Japan who lost everything: a parent, a friend, their house, car etc. Some countries are even checking already the level of radioactivity of the Japanese products imported (sent before the earthquake because the Japanese industry is down), others are checking the air pollution even if they are located 3000 km away from Japan and not in the direction of the winds!
This treatment of information is revolting as it only emphasizes the human appetite for cataastrophe.
I am not trying to minimize the nuclear accident but I think that we have to focus primarily on what is important: the people in difficulty trying to survive after the tsunami.
Can we individually do anything about the nuclear problem? Can we seriously howl with the politicians and the media and use this accident as an excuse to stop our own nuclear plants?
We are behaving like a drunk driver blaming a tree for destroying his car after a crash. The nuclear problem is not the cause of the problem but a negative consequence of the tsunami so we must first do whatever we can to help the Japanese people.
- The moment it is dangerous to go to Tokyo because of the radiations, the airlines will stop their flights.
- The moment it will be risky for your health to go to Japan, the Japanese government and our own governments will prevent us to go there.
- The Japanese are the most experienced people to deal with nuclear problems.
So we must redefine our priorities:
- While the nuclear specialists (from Japan, the USA, the IAEA) do their best to contain the nuclear risks, our job is to support the victims of the tsunami.
In the last days I have seen many Bujinkan groups organizing seminars to collect money for Japan and one dôjô is going to give the benefits to the Japanese red cross. This is the Bujinkan I like.
- Whether nuclear power is “good” or “bad” is not of our concern. We must only do our best to live a happy life where we are.
We often have the feeling that our governments are not always telling us the truth, but there is nothing we can do about it. But as Bujinkan members we should listen to Sensei when he stresses the importance of being happy. So let’s recenter our lives to be happy and stop howling with the crowd.
- The nuclear catastrophe is only a scapegoat. We are the ones to blame because we were unable to develop (in the 20th century) a society fuelled by nuclear power (80% of the electricity in France). As long as we do not find a real alternative to nuclear power we have to live with it.
We are responsible. Accept that and move on as the Japanese did, do and will always do. Sensei was still teaching on Sunday (not on Tuesday as the Budôkan was closed) and I guess he will teach on Friday, so keep going!
As far as I am concerned, I will continue to support the Japanese as much as I can and I am still planning to train with Sôke next April.
If you want to actively help Japan, the best support you can give is to continue to travel to Japan as long as:
- Sensei is teaching his regular classes,
- the airlines are allowed to land at Narita airport,
- our governments let us travel to Tokyo.
The Bujinkan is teaching us to be ourselves and not to behave as a flock of sheeps. It is time to show the world that you didn’t train for nothing during all these years.
And remember that “tsunami” 津浪 is a Japanese word!
See you soon on the mats in Noda.