Using Tōate To Control Space

From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

img_20161125_210544_1Sensei speaks a lot about controlling these days (see previous entry in this blog). But during his last class, he detailed it a little more.
Controlling the space in Mutō Dori should be the theme of the study for next year, he said, this is why I will try here to share with you what I understood.

The control he is speaking about is the control of space with Mutō Dori. Technically, it is the theme of this year with a deeper understanding. Managing the space is mainly done with the legs. As always, footwork is important.

Proper footwork will give you the perfect distance needed to control the space. Not too far, and not too close.
This control is done at the physical level as well as the mental level. Sensei spoke about Tōate a lot during the class, in both taijutsu and weapons. Tōate is the ability to influence uke’s perception by throwing your determined mental attitude onto him (1). Tōate impacts uke’s perception of distance and gives Tori more space to move during the exchange.
This way of controlling affects the space at the physical level but also the attacker’s brain. Uke’s senses are unable to deal with the movements he perceives.

Sensei insisted that to control uke, you have first to control yourself. To control yourself you must be “zero and one” at the same time. You emit nothing, and you have no preconceived idea of what to do. You are “one”, body and mind, and you move freely, surfing on the movements of the opponent in this controlled space you have generated. The outcome of the encounter doesn’t matter. It is irrelevant. Sensei said that at this level “there are no techniques” (2). It is the flow of your movements that make things turn out positively for you. Controlling the space in battle, you also control the time within this space. You react swiftly but without any precipitation.

You occupy the space with your body, walking around uke to create the perfect distance. You shouldn’t be focused on ending the technique, simply the first step matters.

When space is controlled, then your Taijutsu and your techniques with weapons are the same. This is the superior level of Mutō Dori.
In a sword against sword attack, Sensei said you block by avoiding only, with body movement (footwork). “Don’t do sword techniques” the waza will pop up and apart into the controlled space by itself.
Later, against a Dō kiri knife attack, the Kaeshi was simply to hit happa Ken on the driving hand. Timing and distance were paramount.

This ability to control the space of Mutō Dori was hard to get. I hope that in the next classes, I will be able to get a better feeling about it.

Stay tuned.
1. 投/tō/throw/ (Kun-Yomi = nage) +
宛/ate/aim; object; purpose; end|expectations; prospects; hopes|something that can be relied upon
2. When sensei says there are no techniques, it didn’t mean you don’t have to learn them. This is a common mistake amongst young teachers. Forgetting the techniques means that you spent time learning them. The only way to forget something is to have learned it in the first place.

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From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr


When I arrived in Kashiwa yesterday, I met my friend Philippe from France, and his students for dinner.

They have been here for a few days now, and speaking of sensei’s latest classes; Philippe said that Sensei was emphasising a lot about control.
During the last years, we’ve been mainly focusing on zero and Mutō Dori. How can we link these concepts to self-control?
As always in Japanese, there are many words to express “control”, but Philippe explained that Sensei was referring to self-control.
When we parted, I tried to put some thinking to it. As I have not attended any class yet, the following is only possible interpretation.
Amongst many other meanings, self-control can be either Kokki (1), Gaman (2), or Jisei (3).
Kokki only means “to overcome the self”. Gaman goes a little deeper adding to it the Bujinkan concepts of patience, endurance, and perseverance.
But the one that makes more sense to me is “Jisei”.
Jisei with the idea of self-restraint seems to be the summary of Kokki and Gaman. By adding the idea of self-restraint, you are zero. Like in the Mutō Dori, you are in control of yourself. You do not emit intention; you monitor the situation until it is time to react, and you do so by not overdoing it. In Jisei, you are “zero and one”. Remember what sensei told us last July “zero is not nothing”, well, my guess is that this Jisei state is exactly that. Your attitude is matching uke’s intentions, and like with Ishitobashi (4), the skipping stone, you surf on uke’s movements until you finish him. It requires a lot of self-control to do that.
You act like a magnet, invisibly pulling uke into your reality, to destroy him.
Jisei (the control you have) is the result of Jisei, your magnetism (5). Remember that magnetism is one of the three aspects of the Gyokko Ryû.
Anyway, I’ll know more tonight when I go to train at the Honbu.
1. 克己/kokki/self-denial; self-control
2. 我慢/gaman/patience; endurance; perseverance; tolerance; self-control; self-denial
3. 自制/jisei/self-control; self-restraint
4. 石飛ばし/ishitobashi/skipping stones (on a body of water); skimming stones
5. 磁性/jisei/magnetism
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From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr

doshinAs often, before I return for training in Japan, I like to read the notes taken during previous trips. I don’t understand everything that I wrote, but I’m not the only one.

So, I was reading notes taken in July 2014 during my 55th trip.

In one class Sensei spoke about Dōshin Ikkan Suru or “keeping/ make everything with a child mind”. (1)

Dōshin Ikkan Suru is another way to express the Sanshin of a 3-year old kid (2). If there is one secret in the Bujinkan, well, this is that. When you move with a child mind, you do not think; you only react to the outside. In fact, you do not know what you will be doing next. When you reach this state, you are “zero”.

Zero, as Sensei explained last August, zero is not nothing, it is full. To be entirely yourself you have to be empty and have no intentions. Zero is the secret. It is not hidden. It is right in front of you, but you don’t see it because you “want” to do a technique; because you “want” to win. There is no such thing as winning or losing repeats Hatsumi sensei quite often. Many practitioners hear it, but they don’t get it. (I’m not saying it is easy though)

This Dōshin Ikkan Suru is the key to the Mutō Dori of this year. “Sanshin”, “zero”, “no intention”, is the result of your evolution as a martial artist, and as a human being. Values like honesty, resilience, commitment, honour, morality are the aspects of your Budō personality. Maybe this is why Sensei used this secret formula of “Dōshin Ikkan Suru”. Because when you change the Dōshin 童心 for Dōshin 道心, the sentence then become “keeping/ make everything with a moral sense”. (3)


1. Dōshin 童心, child’s mind; childlike innocence; naivete / Ikkan 一貫, consistency; coherence / Suru 為る, to do, to make,
2. 三心 mind, heart, spirit; by extension, the mind of a 3-year old
3. Dōshin 道心, moral sense

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From Shiro Kuma's Blog by kumafr


achs2016.jpgDear friends, I just created a new website where to find my next seminars for 2016 and 2017.

This year again, I will be travelling a lot.

Tokyo (3 times), Dubai (2 times – UAE), Paris (5 times), Annecy (FR), Bangalore (3 times-  IN), Berlin (GER), Gottingen (GER), Budapest (HON), Buenos Aires (ARG), Fortaleza (BR), Bogota (COL), Lugo (SP)…

This list is not complete and more dates will be added soon.


A Fantastic Day (part 3)

From Shiro Kuma's Weblog by kumafr

hsajc2013dkmsThis post was originally posted directly on my Facebook page on December 2nd in Japan.
It follows
Right after the class some of us “Jurassic Ninja ” were invited by Sensei. Noguchi, Pedro, Jack, Sheila, Moti, Gillian, Doug, Christian and a few others.
Having lunch with sensei is always fun and the mix of beer, Sake and whisky made it even more memorable.

Sensei spoke a lot of the future of the bujinkan. The year 2014 is a new beginning, the beginning of a new 42-year cycle. This is why sensei announced that he will be with us until he reaches 120 years of age.

I am sure that Sensei will explain in the next months what he has in mind, so I let him explain it when the time comes. It will mainly concern the new honbu, a new office dealing with the bujinkan paperwork, the time for the jugodan to take responsibility for our organization.

But the main subject he unveiled is the necessity to befriend our fellow buyu from all over the world.

The bujinkan  has been spreading in many countries over the past 42 years and there are no border. Bujinkan is a human art and humans are the same all over the world. Nationalism is not part of the bujinkan, we are all members of the same world.

As Sensei said last year: “Bujinkan Budô is made in human”, please don’t forget it.
At the end of the lunch we were all very “happy” including our host.

On the way back to Kashiwa we stopped at Starbucks for a few coffees and cakes with Pedro, Sheila, Gillian, Christian and many others. And here again there was a lot of happiness.

Thank you sensei for this fantastic day and for the depth of your teachings making us more adult and human.

Happy Birthday!

Read the previous parts of this entry: