Hiden – Togakure Ryū – errata

From Wanderings in Budo by bujinshugyo

Thanks to George Ohashi for correcting me on the source of the article – it is not Hiden magazine (as I had always assumed) but Kakutōgi Tsuushin 格闘技通信, unarmed martial arts transmission (magazine), of May 1990.

The full info at the very bottom of the page is:
参考資料 • 武芸流派大事典 (東京コピー出版) 秘伝 • 戸隠流忍法体術 (新人物往来社/提供 • 若林太郎)
Reference material – martial arts school encyclopaedia (Tōkyō publication) Secret – Togakure Ryū Ninpō Taijutsu (Newcomers correspondence society/contributor – Wakabayashi Tarō)

If I have the name right then I am guessing Wakabayashi-san was the interviewer/reporter writing about the ‘Secret art of Togakure ryū’.  So in my defence at least Hiden is written there…

Kakutōgi 格闘技 – describes martial arts that don’t use weapons, fight one-to-one or as sports.

More to follow shortly.

Hiden – Togakure Ryū – article translation

From Wanderings in Budo by bujinshugyo

What follows a translation I have been mulling over for a time of a single sheet handed out by Hatsumi sensei at class in Ayase.

What his reasons were at the time for passing this around I do not know (most probably it was found buried under a pile of other books, weapons and objects in the Bujinkan office – that being the same situation for me when I rediscovered it a few months back). It is a photocopy of a page from the Japanese martial arts magazine Kakutogi Tsuushin 格闘技通信. The date written by hand at the bottom left is 平成25(the fifth month of the second year of the Heisei era) or May 1990.
(* 9 Jul – corrected source ref from Hiden to Kakutogi Tsuushin)

I have endeavoured to translate the text into English without much in the way of interpretation or rearrangement, some parts may therefore seem a little clumsy or confusing whilst reading. First I’ll present the Japanese text that I have had to write from scratch onto the laptop, then my translation paragraph by paragraph, followed by any notes or explanations that seem relevant. I will present this translation over several blog entries over the next few days or weeks.

To describe the page – after the heading and sub heading there is a genealogy chart that lists notable people and the styles or schools (ryū) demonstrating their connections and eventual merging together under Takamatsu Toshitsugu to be passed on to Hatsumi Masaaki. The text under the table is from an interview where Hatsumi sensei gives a summary of the different origins of the schools he has inherited, then some information on each of the 9 schools, concluding with a profile of Hatsumi sensei.

Title and Headings…


Togakure ryū ninpō taijutsu – the last part
Hidden village and sanctuary of Iga • mysteries nurtured in Kumano
As successor and inheritor Mr Hatsumi’s nine schools genealogy

Genealogy table image…

Main text…


In the martial arts that Mr Hatsumi has inherited there has not been much focus on the variety of densho. In other words, rather than to say clearly that this kind of art comes from a great variety or diversity (of sources) … because some have interpreted that it is something that is born spontaneously through the cultural exchange of a wide variety of styles/arts. If you think of this origin time then you have to go back to the 7th Century. At that time monks and magicians (puppeteers and illusionists) came over from the continent (China) and brought martial arts (kenpō) and magic (genjutsu). Also, at the same time there are changes brought to Esoteric Buddism and Shugendō appears.


Such early warriors, shugensha and monks began living a communal life secluded in the mountains. Iga is surrounded by mountains and ideal for their hidden villages, it was a kind of drifting together of cultures. In such a place where many arts gradually came together, eventually many martial arts schools were created. The block on the left side of the genealogy table illustrates this process.


In the kind of densho Mr Hatsumi holds, the description of the time of the origin is ambiguous/vague, when you think of it as a summary – a kind of model case – of the intricately intertwined course of history. I requested Mr Hatsumi “please show me the ancient techniques” and asked “what techniques have been around for all time?”.  The techniques and tactics are constantly changing depending on the cultural background of different eras. Written or recorded history and historical records are also important, however, each cultural period has continually transmitted the feeling of martial arts, with passionate people some of these have been handed down to the present day. He brings together wisdom from over hundreds of years.


Contrast this with Kumano, a little south of Iga, that has been a sanctuary and Mecca for old Shintō. In this area martial arts that incorporate Shintō have been nurtured/cultivated/flourished. The block on the right side of the genealogy table illustrates this process. Also, they could boast of the Kumano navy known as the Kuki navy and also called pirates (one kind of maritime warrior group) that used the open sea around Kumano, I cannot miss out the martial arts they were raised in?


Also the 9 martial arts from Iga and Kumano are an important part of Japan’s cultural history and sports, combined into one by Takamatsu Toshitsugu and passed on to Mr Hatsumi. Mr Hatsumi said he was impressed to be given such an amazing thing. I do not know the old saying exactly, but please read the description of each school with that intention (bearing that in mind?)…

Japan Update: History & Training

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

Sensei at home Apr19th

Tuesday has been another fantastic day in Tokyo as sensei asked me on Sunday to meet him with Pedro and Kogure san (Quest videos) at his place at 5pm before training. The light rain and the cold weather that accompanied me from Kashiwa to Noda didn’t lower my pleasure of meeting sensei and my buyu brother Pedro.

When Pedro and I met in a Spanish Taikai more than 20 years ago we never suspected the particular tie that would bind us together during all these years. Even though I met Sôke at the London Taikai in 1987 (the first European Taikai in Europe organized by my other brother Peter King) and again in 1988 (Sweden Taikai organized by my other brother Sven), I want to thank Pedro again here to have introduced me to Sôke on my first trip to Japan. I think that without this special connection he has with our Sôke I wouldn’t have gone so far in the Bujinkan. Muchissimas gracias hermano!

And thank you also to the true friendship of my older Yûro Shi Tennô brothers Sven and Peter.

Sensei, Pedro and Arnaud

Anyway, at 5 pm Pedro, Miguel, Kogure san and myself met in Sôke’s house where he showed us some very rare documents including the original letter of surrender written and signed by Hiro Hito tennô and the 12 members of his government, the day before they officially surrendered. This document is so important that no financial value can be given to it. We also were honored to flip the pages of an history of the rulers of Japan realized for the tennô only with original ukiyoe print on a very special type of paper that resists all natural disasters so common to Japan: tsunami and earthquakes. A paper so special that a single blank page is worth 800 Euros… and they were more than 50 pages all printed with original ukiyoe… As a joke sensei said that this paper might be able to resist an atomic disaster… but was it a joke? He then showed us a 600 year old tachi (with a tsuka of 3 fists and a half).

Our budô is definitely not a sport and these few items he displayed especially for us is the proof that without this kind of knowledge your martial arts abilities are only a “puff of smoke” as they say in the Shinden fudô ryû. Sensei added that no Japanese were able to grasp that anymore, that this knowledge has disappeared today here in Japan and this is the reason why he is always referring to him as a “ufo” (since his first visit to the USA in the 80s). Japan has lost his history the forgotten the lessons it carried. To illustrate his point he told us that the technique to make the special paper that I spoke earlier of has been lost and that no one today in Japan knows how to do it anymore.

This introduction of our meeting was an excuse for him to tell us that if someone with the proper knowledge, connections, and structured organization was existing, he would give away everything he had to save this knowledge from disappearing. As you know sensei’s house is like a real museum and those documents he showed are far from being the most important things he has. Sensei said he also had in writings the fours parts of the Amatsu Tatara being like the four parts of the hearts or the stomach and that even that was not the best piece of his collection of historical data. But the most amazing to me was that he insisted that he would never sell it but was ready to give it for free if someone worth it was presented to him. Even Kogure san was surprised by all this. This was indeed a very special moment and thanks to Kogure san translations into English and Miguel’s ability to speak and understand Japanese, the connection between all of us was very good.


Then it was time for the class and we went to the Hombu where nearly 70 people were waiting for the class to begin. Senseis introduced the class by showing a special yari that he bought earlier on Tuesday on which a tube with hooks facing the tip is sliding on the pole allowing it to move faster when stabbing the opponent. It was another piece of historical teaching as sensei explained that when facing a weapon you have to understand the various (and sometimes illogical) ways of using it. In this particular case, he said that fisherman hooks known as hari (針) in Japanese could be attached to the sliding device in order to trap the skin or the yoroi of the attacker.

The main point in his class was the following: “be aware of what you cannot see, what you can see is easy to deal with, what you don’t see is what is really dangerous”. He uses the term “mienai” (見えない)which something that one cannot possibly see (in opposition to the “kakushi” term – 隠し). His point was to make us aware of the risk of invisible radiations these days.

We did many taijutsu and weapon techniques started by Pedro and Thomas and sensei insisted a lot on the importance for this year’s theme of the use of the fingers (Takagi Yôshin Ryû) to inflict pain in many different places. At one point we did a kind of ryô happa ken to the head changing rapidly the pain location by switching the intention from one finger to the other (below the jaw, above the ear, under the nose, inside the eyes etc). Another point is not to use strength so that uke is not able to use this strength of the hold to free himself from it.

On a choke attempt he showed how to move our shoulders in different ways (up/up, up/down) in order to change the size of the neck a technique we did 20 years ago during a daikomyô sai in Japan and where we all looked like little neck less dwarfs rocking sideways. This neck hiding technique is very useful when applying a kikaku ken (headbutt strike) as the shoulders protect the vertebra.

We also did a technique against a fist and kick (same side) attack in a kokû manner. The interesting point here was to apply the shutô to the attacking arm from inside at a 45° angle, then to receive the kick softly in the inside of the right elbow and sliding the body to the right to operate a kind of natural reversal of uke’s body by his trapped leg. Uke’s leg is captured inside your arm with your back to you and your hand can naturally grab uke’s belt. Sôke insisted on the importance of locking uke by the belt grab. Then sensei explained that we had to grab uke in the manner of an ice pick. The ice pick is hooking the ice but doesn’t go through it. From there uke is put down straight to the ground and locked there in pain by crushing his fingers with your fingers. This was the feeling we had to understand yesterday night.

On the sword henka of the techniques initiated by Pedro and Thomas, he showed us again how to draw the blade (nuku, 剣を抜く) from the scabbard without pulling it the hand but by using the tsuba to hook the attacking hand (grabbing or not) of uke. Sensei said that this was a very old way of drawing that has been lost like many other things in Japan warfare knowledge. At one point speaking of the yoroi, he said that a samurai would have at least 3 sets of yoroi depending on the seasons and that the winter yoroi would be covered with bear fur in the inside of it. And that also is not known by many gendai budô experts. Actually he was so critical on the sword abilities of modern practitioners in Japan that the camera had to be turned off!

We also did a very nice footwork technique where under a jodan kiri attack you do some kind of jûji aruki (not yoko aruki) turning your body nearly back to uke right side and rotating the blade (wrists are crossed) hitting uke directly in his attack. A very nice flow body flow quite hard to get in a crowded environment but saving a lot of space.

After going back to Kashiwa I had a meeting with Kogure san and while we were having dinner a very long (more than a minute) and soft earthquake shook the whole building. It was like having the metro passing under the floor… but we were on the 6th floor. Strange feeling.

As I said, another fantastic day in Japan indeed!

Pull Yourself Together With Bushinwa 武心和

From Bujinkan Santa Monica by Bujinkan Santa Monica

photo by ghindo
In the Densho for Gyokko Ryu Kosshijutsu, one of the 9 schools we study in the Bujinkan, there is a precept which is expressed like this:
 Bu Shin Wa O Toutonasu 武心和を尊 The heart of the warrior holds peace righteous, or, a warrior heart holds harmony as sacred. 
Of course the idea of Wa or harmony is vital to understanding the physical aspects of our training. But there is something deeper in this idea. An idea that is deeply Japanese and connects us to the roots of our art and the history of Japan itself.

Wa 倭 until the 8th century, when the Japanese replaced it with 和 is the oldest recorded name of Japan. The idea of harmony in Japan is expressed in art, the tea ceremony, philosophy and even in daily manners or enforced through law. Many of the codes of honor of the Samurai were the result of an attempt to preserve harmony.

Honor of a bushi was most important in this code. Abusive language was punished by confiscation of the samurai's weapons and property or even banishment. All because it could lead to an armed fight over honor that might end in death. Striking a bushi was such a grave insult, that the offender would pay with his life or serious physical injury.

Hatsumi Sensei says that this Bushinwa idea from the Gyokko Ryu Densho can be traced  back to ideas expressed by Shotoku Taishi (573-621, the Prince of Holy Virtue, a Japanese regent, statesman, and scholar) in his Jushichijo no Kempo. This was one of Prince Shotoku's most important written pieces, the so-called "Seventeen-Article Constitution" completed in 604 AD. The title "constitution" does not accurately describe Prince Shotoku's writing. But, Shotoku's document does set forth 17 specific laws or principles applied to nation-wide behavior.

Hatsumi Sensei says,
 Early Samurai were strongly influenced by the teaching of Shotoku Taishi.  The first phrase from Shotoku Taishi's Seventeen article constitution, "Cherish the harmony among people" is assimilated into the Gyokko Ryu idea that "Bushin (the warrior heart) cherishes the harmony among people."
Here is that first article from Prince Shotoku,
604 AD, 4th Month, 3rd day.
(1) Harmony should be valued and quarrels should be avoided. Everyone has his biases, and few men are far-sighted. Therefore some disobey their lords and fathers and keep up feuds with their neighbors. But when the superiors are in harmony with each other and the inferiors are friendly, then affairs are discussed quietly and the right view of matters prevails.
Shotoku was himself strongly influenced by Confucian and Buddhist writings. So this idea was basically an adaptation of one of the Confucian Analects:
When there are no stirrings of pleasure, anger, sorrow, or joy, the mind may be said to be in a state of equilibrium. When those feelings are stirred and act in their due degree, there ensues what may be called a state of harmony. Equilibrium is the great root from which grow all acts of humanity; harmony is the universal path that guides them.
Let the states of equilibrium and harmony exist in perfection, and a happy order will prevail throughout the heavens and earth, and all things will be nourished and flourish.
When Hatsumi Sensei says that we should not act out of personal desire, but learn how to fight to protect life, this is part of the depth behind those ideas. Peace, Harmony, and a better life for all! That's what the warrior's heart is all about.

As the old saying, " Bushiwa Aimi Tagai," puts it, it is customary with the Japanese samurai to understand and aid one another; and they even extend sympathy and aid to the enemy soldiers, killed or disabled in battle.
In the ego's world of illusion, all things are in flux. But continuous change is constant chaos. When the ego sees itself as the center of so much swirling activity, it cannot experience cosmic harmony.
-Han Shan

Bufû Ikkan

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

(version Française)

Sensei said that “the secret of budô is 武風一貫 bufû ikkan (translated in “unarmed fighting techniques of the samurai” p.51, by the way of war is survival*). This is the yang secret. In a fight the opponent is often aggressive (i.e. yin) therefore by opposing softness to hardness you can defeat the enemy. When facing a strong and violent opponent you have two options: be more aggressive and violent than him or be so soft that his own intentions and actions will defeat him. This is the secret of fighting.

It reminds me of the encounter between the yamabushi monk Benkei and the young Minamoto no Yoshitsune during the Hôgen disturbance (保元の乱, Hōgen-no-ran1156). Benkei was a fierce warrior monk who defeated 99 samurai crossing a bridge he was standing on. Benkei had made the wish to take a 100 swords from samurai and to give them to the Buddha. When the young Yoshitsune arrived at the bridge, Benkei had already won 99 swords. Yoshitsune, defending himself with a simple flute overcame the big giant who then became his disciple.
This is the typical example of how yin can defeat yang. In the bujinkan this technique is called goja dori and sensei details it in his book: “Togakure ryu ninpô taijutsu” (p.237).

Sensei insists also on developing 五心術 goshin jutsu instead of 護身術 goshin jutsu. We should develop the heart/spirit if we want to ensure a true self-protection for ourselves.

Brutal force is nothing compared to mental strength. In order to survive learn to use the yin within you.

* 武風一貫 means “the martial winds blow every day” but when written 武風一管 it means “martial wind (tone) of one flute” thus the connection with Yoshitsune. ;)